Friends launch Charlotte's Law petition

Last updated 12:49 24/02/2014

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An online petition calling for the creation of "Charlotte's Law" against online bullying has been launched following the death of Charlotte Dawson.

The petition, launched on the Change.org website by Dawson's friend Em Mastronardi, had received 15,000 signatures by Monday midday.

The Charlotte's Law - Tougher Cyber Bullying Legislation petition calls on the federal and state governments to take a tougher stance on cyber bullying and for greater accountability from social media companies.

Mastronardi says the model and TV personality fought hard against cyber bullying and had dreamed of eradicating negativity from social media.

She says Dawson's death shouldn't be in vain and the petition is a way of continuing the battle.

"We ask that the Australian Government and the state governments enforce the existing anti-bullying and harassment laws, and take action against those who violate them.

"We ask that Social Media companies take a more active role in the prevention of cyber bullying, and take more responsibility in monitoring posts of 'hate'.

"We ask that together we unite to change the cyber bullying platform," Mastronardi says on the website.

Dawson, 47, was outspoken about her depression and in 2012 publicly waged war on so-called Twitter trolls.

The New Zealand-born star eventually took her own life and was found dead in her Woolloomooloo apartment in Sydney on Saturday morning.

Parliamentary secretary for communications Paul Fletcher said Dawson's death was "tragic" but the government considered child victims of cyber-bullying its top priority.

"In our society there are a range of areas where we put in place extra protections for children in recognition of the fact that they are not necessarily able to make judgments or protect themselves in the same way that adults are," he said.

"There's always a dividing line to be drawn at some point."

But former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson, who is leading a charge for national laws to tackle all forms of bullying, said new laws should protect all online users.

"I don't think we can stop at children," he told AAP on Sunday.

"There's a bit of the old concept that, 'Oh yes, we were all bullied at school, and we got over it' ...

"This is a much more serious problem than we've ever accepted."

Dawson's sister Vicky, who lives in New Zealand, will reportedly arrive in Australia on Monday to make funeral arrangements.

WHERE TO FIND HELP

If you or someone you know needs to talk, these are 24-hour helplines:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

If it is an emergency call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz

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