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Nadia Bartel: some shaming is a good thing

By Rob Cover - posted Monday, 6 September 2021

Widespread public criticism of influencer Nadia Bartel for her breaches of COVID-safety and public health orders has been justified. More importantly, it is good for the community but needs to avoid turning into a public shaming pile-on.

Video footage was widely circulated on Friday showing Nadia Bartel appearing to consume recreational drugs at a party of friends.

Bartel, the former wife of Geelong Cats player Jimmy Bartel and well known as a model, clothes designer, Instagram influencer and ambassador for popular brands including Mecca and JSHealth, has been well-positioned as a media personality, style icon and influencer.


While Aussie Rules players' WAGs (wives and girlfriends) have long been subject to public attention, influencers have recently come under additional public scrutiny this year after the Australian Association of National Advertisers tightened their code of conduct on social media celebrities' disclosure of commercial arrangements.

Although the AANA code of ethics does not require social media influencers to be upstanding citizens or adhere to a moral code, the added public concern has meant that those who earn funds from their public profile are increasingly required to recognise their obligations to align their behaviour with community standards.

The scandal, however, is not that Bartel slipped up, possibly took drugs or partied with friends during a period in which visitors to the home are restricted. The footage was always going to result in a police investigation into a breach of Victoria's lockdown rules, much as social media footage of an engagement party in Caulfield North in August attracted fines and widespread public condemnation.

However, where Bartel is in apologising to the public and then breaching the rules again. On 3 September, Bartel circulated an apology on Instagram reading:

Hi Everyone,

I have let you all down by my actions.


I take full responsibility and I am committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure I make better choices in future.

To my family and friends, my business partners and the public health workers trying to keep us all safe, I am embarrassed and remorseful.

I am truly and deeply sorry. I hope I can earn your forgiveness and, in time, your trust.

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About the Author

Rob Cover is Professor of Digital Communication at RMIT University, Melbourne where he researches contemporary media cultures. The author of six books, his most recent are Flirting in the era of #MeToo: Negotiating Intimacy (with Alison Bartlett and Kyra Clarke) and Population, Mobility and Belonging.

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