Petition for Photographer's rights! (Australia)

Started Mar 11, 2007 | Discussions thread
kjhein New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Petition for Photographer's rights! (Australia)

For those who took time to read and sign, thanks. As the photographer escorted from the beach by the police, let me clear up some of the misinformation that seems to arise when this topic is discussed. First, it is perfectly legal to photograph at the beach, no question as it is a public place. Those that have tried to prevent this one way or another over time like councils have failed.

However, there are circumstances where photographing will lead to legal action which as you might expect surround privacy, places where there is an expectation of privacy like changerooms, toilets etc., and essentially cover the "upskirting" issue. No problem there.

Where the issue arises is where uninformed persons declare that photography on the beach is illegal and approach someone taking a photo and these may be members of the public, officials of the Surf Lifesaving Clubs or other persons. I have been told directly by someone who should know better that you can be removed from the beach for having a camera so it is not rhetorical information. Of course they are wrong, however the misinformation exists and is causing problems.

In the instance of the Surf Lifesaving Association, they are very protective of their youth members having in the past found pedophiles in their midst and having pictures of youth members taken at a carnival turn up on a questionable web site. To counter this they have framed guidelines to ensure club photographers have a blue card (screened and approved to work with children) however anyone can still take a picture at a carnival from a public place.

Now if the SLC receive a complaint from a member of the public that they feel "uncomfortable" about seeing a photographer on the beach the SLC will investigate (how they do this has never been explained) and if warranted (also unexplained), call the police who are bound to investigate.

In my case, I was standing in plain view under a tree on a walkway near the beach with a long lens photographing surfers at one end of the beach while there were nippers at the other end of the beach. Police appear at my shoulder and because my id is in the car, I have to leave the beach with them. They check out my camera and the pictures on it, I let them check out the car, they take details, this is the nature of their job. Not happy but it was all handled professionally and courteously. I am advised "with suggestion" that it would be best if I don't go back with the camera.

In trying to find out what happened from the SLC, the story changed a few times as to how and why the police were called but make no mistake, the SLC will call the police if they wish and there is not much you can do about it. They are unaccountable in this regard.

Now the SLC has made an application to the Attorney's General in respect to privacy issues as have a number of other organisation both for and against. The intent of the Petition is to provide a show of numbers to organisations who propose that cameras should be banned at places like the beach. Some folks have approached their local MP citing the support shown in the petition as evidence that concern exists in the community about the direction the AG review of privacy issues may go if not properly considered.

So sign the petition and share with your friends and colleagues if you are concerned or don't if you are not. Write a letter to your MP and express concern if you feel strongly about this. And if you are photographing at the beach as I was make sure you approach the patrol captain and introduce yourself. It may save an unexpected visit from the police.

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