Fiona Patten MLC has moved a series of historic amendments to the Child Pornography & Other Matters Bill in the Victorian Parliament.

The first one would have removed all references to the words “Child Pornography” in the Victorian statute and changed the description of that appalling depiction to exactly what it is – “Child Sexual Abuse Material”. This view of what to call the material is now held by many law enforcement agencies in other countries including Interpol and many women’s and feminist groups. Her argument was that by conflating it in any way with adult ‘pornography’, which is watched by a very wide section of the community, the terrible effects that it has on and for children are severely diminished.

Incredibly, her amendment was voted down by Labor, Liberal, The Greens, Shooters & Fishers and the DLP. The only person who supported it was the independent cross bencher, James Purcell. Fiona says she is not deterred in the slightest and will continue to push for Victoria to come into line with modern thinking on this topic.

Fiona also sought a second amendment that concerned X rated material that related to the potential for Eros members and others in the industry to be charged with an offence relating to child sex abuse films . Currently in all states of Australia it is a defence to a charge relating to a child sex abuse film that the film was classified. This is as it should be. It would be incredible if someone was to get a film classified by the Australian Classification Board and then be charged with an offence over it. However, in all states the X rating is exempted from the exemption. This means that if you get a film classified X you can still potentially face a child porn charge for selling it.

Fiona’s amendment was to treat the X rating the same as all other ratings when it came to this exemption. In fact she argued that because the X rating was the only one that by definition did not include any depictions of minors or even those dressed as minors, it was less likely than an R or an MA rated film to be conflated with child sex abuse material. On this amendment Fiona received unanimous support from the parliament and Victoria became the first state in Australia to do this.

The South Australian parliament are considering a similar bill there in the next few weeks and Eros will be lobbying to have the same amendments adopted across the country.