Is it safe to send a headless nude photo in Australia?

Controversy around a new book, Welcome To Sex has left experts asking, Is it safe to send a headless nude photo in Australia?

And the answer is a definite no when you look into the law, but also a big no when it comes to common sense and protecting your image, reputation and even self esteem – especially if you are a minor.

Welcome To Sex is a new book by Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes and it has a lot of Australians talking, and not necessarily for the right reasons.

Melinda Tankard Reist from Collective Shout is leading the argument trying to let minors know even a nude photo sent to someone with no head in an attempt to remain unidentifiable is still extremely dangerous in Australia.

She says boys have been known to put heads of multiple women on multiple bodies and send them to each other (which is against the law and a criminal offence) but which can cause extreme stress for girls.

Is it safe to send topless nudes that cannot identify the person?

Texting nudes or semi nudes has become part of relationship culture in almost every part of the world. 

Couples young, old, and all over the globe are engaging in this popular relationship trend, especially when apart.

But for minors – and for anyone really, it is a grey area fraught with potential problems.

The new book, ‘Welcome to Sex’ is causing controversy over their so-called expert advice on what is and is not safe to send via text or social media in Australia – and a group of people are protesting about aspects of the content, and an open letter has been written to the publishers, Hardie Grant. 

Cropping a head out of a nude image is not the answer to safe text.

The protest letter has so far been signed by 1,237 individuals including leading adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg and cyber-safety expert and former police officer Susan McLean. 

The letter claims the book could put children at risk who may misunderstand the information in the book.

The letter makes interesting reading and clarifies some of the dangers of sending nude photographs to partners, even with the head taken off in an attempt to remain anonymous.

The best way top stay safe is not with headless nudes but not send them at all.

This is part of the letter to Hardie Grant: 

In the section titled ‘Nudes, texting and online sex’, the authors write (p.174) 

“If we were talking to our own kids, we’d tell them to always crop their heads out of any photos, just in case…”

Australian laws make it a crime to possess, produce or distribute sexual images of minors. 

In some cases, there may be some limited exceptions and defences – but your readers, acting on the advice on headless nudes, may risk being charged with very serious criminal offences.

Criminal charges are not the only risk. There is evidence to suggest that boys in Australian schools play at guessing who the headless nude belongs to, causing distress among girls who fear they may be wrongly identified as the sender. In this context, boys play ‘swap the head’, superimposing a preferred head onto the image and sharing it among their groups.

We are also concerned about advice on p.175, “If you send a nude with someone you’re being intimate with, they aren’t allowed to share it with anyone else without your consent, and vice-versa – it can be a crime.” 

This advice is also misleading. In these cases, ‘consent’ may not be recognised as a defence or exception in criminal law.

We believe there is a significant risk that you have inadvertently published advice which may lead to the commission of an offence.

Children and young people – especially those skimming the book in school libraries without mediation of an adult who may understand the risks – cannot be expected to be across the legal ramifications.

For these reasons we call on you to remove this section of your title prior to the next reprint.

Headless nudes or even unidentifiable nudes are still illegal as well as controversial in Australia for minors..
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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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