In Australia, there is no national consensus on what constitutes bullying, which hampers efforts to fight the problem. The most commonly used measure of bullying behavior is the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Recently over 20,000 students in Australian schools, aged 8 to 14, completed surveys about bullying. The results were published in the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study. Not all cases are reported because many students feel that nothing can be done, so the true figures would be even more disturbing. It showed almost 30% of students were bullied every few weeks or more during a term of school and that frequent bullying was most commonly reported by younger students. The statistics also show that girls are more likely to bully in covert ways, with students beginning this behavior as early as Year 3 in school.
In the adult world, incidents of cyber harassment are recognized under definitions in Australian legislation relating specifically to the use of internet and electronic technologies to communicate in an intimidating manner or to publish offensive material. However, in most circumstances, it is rare that these ever reach the stage of prosecution. Cyber harassment, including cyber bullying and stalking, may be considered assault under the Southern Australian Criminal Law Consolidation Act if there is a threat of physical harm to the victim or if it can be proven that the perpetrator is in a position to carry out the threat and intends to do so, but the anonymous nature of cyber behavior makes it very difficult to prove. Also, according to law, there must be at least two proven instances of the behavior as well as the mental element of intention to cause harm or create fear. Meeting these criteria make it very difficult for victims to find legal remedy in the Australian courts. Australia ranks third in the world for cyber bullying and harassment, but unlike China or Singapore, they are still at a stage where action is not being taken to really address the problem.