15.1 Many serious invasions of privacy also amount to harassment. Harassment involves a pattern of behaviour or a course of conduct pursued by an individual with the intention of intimidating and distressing another person. Harassment often involves intruding into someone’s private space and affairs, and perhaps misusing their personal information. Laws that target harassment will therefore often also serve to protect people’s privacy.

15.2 In this chapter, the ALRC recommends that if a privacy tort is not enacted, the states and territories should enact a statutory tort of harassment, to provide those subjected to harassment with a means of civil redress.

15.3 Harassment legislation would provide Australians with protection similar to that in other countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Singapore.

15.4 Further consideration of the detailed design of a harassment tort will be necessary. Generally, a new harassment tort should capture a course of conduct that is genuinely oppressive and vexatious, not merely irritating or annoying. The tort should be confined to conduct that is intentionally designed to harm or demean another individual.

15.5 A harassment tort should also be the same throughout the country. The states and territories should therefore enact uniform legislation, if the Commonwealth does not have the Constitutional power to enact a harassment tort.

15.6 This chapter also highlights some gaps and inconsistencies in existing criminal laws concerning harassment, as well as some challenges for their enforcement.