Creative legal minds in North Queensland have turned to YouTube and humour to spread a serious message about dating app safety for older women.
The North Queensland Women’s Legal Service (NQWLS), and the Creative Arts, Law and Criminology departments at Central Queensland University (CQU), collaborated for about seven months on the Dating App Safety Project, which released its work online last month.
The three short videos – Red Flags, Show Us Your Bits, and The Dos and Don’ts of Dating – provide information on the prevention and reporting of technology-facilitated violence and harassment (TFVH).
The videos focus on topics including unsolicited sexualised photos; distribution, or threats to distribute intimate images; harassment or ongoing unwanted contact; misuse of apps to stalk victims; and sexual assaults when meeting in person.
Dr Emma Turley, a psychologist and senior lecturer in Criminology at CQU, was a key member of the project.
Emma said the videos were aimed at women returning to, or new to, the dating scene, and the use of slang and familiar social situations made the videos instantly relatable to the intended audience.
“Working in the legal sphere often we can get a bit preoccupied with language and making sure things sound formal an academic and official, but when you’re trying to get this really important information out to members of the public, you need to lose all of that and make sure that it’s language that people use every day,” she said.
Scenes from the YouTube videos produced by NQWLS and CQU.
Emma said the idea for the project was sparked when she and fellow researchers examined literature about violence related to dating apps and social media, and discovered there was a dearth of resources for older women.
They approached NQWLS, which was only too happy to provide real-world legal experience to the project.
Solicitor Ashleigh Lawrence, who represented the service, said TFVH was a bigger problem than most people realised.
She pointed to research from the Australian Institute of Criminology released in October last year, which found three in four people using dating apps or websites experienced some form of sexual violence facilitated by these platforms, in the five years to 2021.
The project, which was funded by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, was launched on 14 August at Cairns’ Tanks Arts Centre, and the video posted on YouTube the following day.
Ashleigh said the actors for the videos were drawn from Cairns’ thriving creative community, and the videos were designed to have a “distinctly Far North Queensland feel”.
She said NQWLS had begun to disseminate the videos through its networks “from Cooktown to Brisbane”, which included community legal centres, domestic violence resource centres and women’s centres.
She said the impact of the videos would be monitored, and project participants hoped there would be further funding to create more resources.
Visit the Dating App Safety Project YouTube page here.