Friday, 23 December 2016

Commission makes submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech

The Commission has today made a submission into the Federal Parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech in Australia, calling for the existing federal racial discrimination laws to be maintained and protected.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, Kristen Hilton, said it is important that all people are able to live their lives free from intimidation and discrimination on the basis of their race.

"Every day we see first-hand the harmful individual and collective impacts of discrimination. The many stories we have heard show that experiences of racist speech and behaviour can have profound consequences on a person’s physical and mental health, their ability to work and their sense of belonging.

"In a democratic and diverse society, rights will rub against each other. In this case, it is the right to free speech and the right to be from discrimination on the basis of race. In our view, the current provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 strike the appropriate balance between free speech and limitations on speech where that speech is discriminatory," Ms Hilton said.

"Weakening the protections that 18C offers sends the wrong message to all parts of the Australian community, which has historically prided itself on tolerance, diversity and 'the fair go'. The reality is that racism does occur in our society. Our current legal framework is an important part of saying that racism is not acceptable."

Read the Commission’s submission 

Media contact

Adam Pulford
Mobile: 0459 114 657
Email: adam.pulford@veohrc.vic.gov.au