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The 26 January marks a defining moment for Australia as a nation. But in recent years, there’s been a growing acknowledgement that for Australia’s First Nations peoples, the date is layered with pain and sadness. It marks the beginning of a period in which their communities experienced the loss of many lives and the erosion of culture and traditions. 

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Distressing news reports emerged earlier this week about a Nazi flag flying above a house in regional Victoria.

The symbols on that flag are more than just lines and colours – they represent hate and trauma for so many people around the world, including the members of Victoria’s Jewish community. To display that flag publicly is reprehensible – it runs counter to community values and the importance Victorians place on inclusion and diversity. It has no place in this state.

Woman holding sign at rally - what lessens one of us lessens all of us

There is a clear message in yesterday’s County Court’s decision to uphold Victoria’s first conviction under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act – that there is no place in Victoria for hateful conduct that incites ridicule and contempt for members of our community because of how they look, where they are from or what they believe.

For many in modern Australia, it’s easy to imagine that our human rights and freedoms are well protected. But some Australians have less assurance of this - young people navigating the youth justice system, vulnerable individuals and families relying daily on public housing, disability services or social security, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities seeking to uphold their cultural rights.

The Gender Equality Bill being introduced to Parliament today promises better opportunities for women in the public sector and fairer, more equitable workplaces.

Victoria’s public servants recognise the value of human rights, and there are positive signs that public authorities are engaging the community in decisions that affect their rights, according to a new report from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Today is the beginning of Human Rights Week – an annual celebration of the human rights and freedoms that are inherent to all of us, regardless of our background, culture, gender, age or belief. And there are opportunities throughout the week for every Victorian to show their support!

Disability, race and sex were the most common types of discrimination reported to the Commission in the last 12 months, as outlined in our Annual Report for 2018–19.

Every Victorian should feel welcome and valued in the place they call home – and that’s why media reports this week of a neo-Nazi concert planned for Melbourne should alarm all of us.

No Victorian student should be harassed, bullied or discriminated against because of his or her religious beliefs.

Disturbing news reports of rising antisemitism in Victorian schools highlight the importance of parents, educators and the broader community condemning such behaviour and educating young people about the serious and lasting impact of antisemitic attacks on members of Victoria’s Jewish community.

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