Thursday, 27 March 2014 10:27

Statement from the Commission on proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, Section18C

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission supports protection from racial and religious vilification in the community. Research has documented the detrimental impact experiences of racism have on individuals and the community, including experiences of violence, feelings of safety, levels of community engagement and mental health outcomes.

Under the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (RRTA), vilification is behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

The proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 have similarities to the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.

The Commission is in a unique position to share with the federal Government the Victorian experience of how vilification provisions have been applied in practice and how we believe the proposed new laws would impact the Australian community.

The Government has sought submissions from all stakeholders on its proposed reforms by 30 April 2014.

We encourage interested people and organisations to take this opportunity to express your feedback about these proposed reforms.

Submissions can be emailed to s18cconsultation@ag.gov.au or posted to:

Human Rights Policy Branch
Attorney-General's Department
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600

For more information visit www.ag.gov.au The Commission is preparing a submission to the Attorney-General of Australia on the exposure draft, which will be available on our website by 15 April. We are providing our submission well in advance to enable others to view the Commission's submission if they wish prior to filing their own.

If you have any queries please contact Kerin Leonard, Manager, Legal Unit on (03) 9032 3445 or email kerin.leonard@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Comparison of the current provisions and the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.

Important information for Victorians

The proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 will not change your rights under Victorian law and do not change what you can report to the Commission. In Victoria we have the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 which offer protection from harassment and discrimination based on race:

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 - Victoria's anti discrimination law protects people from discrimination and harassment based on race in areas of public life such as workplaces, schools, clubs, shops or places that provide services.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 provides protection from vilification. Vilification is behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

You can contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission on 1300 252 913 or email enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au if you have any questions or if you wish to make a complaint under these laws.

Also it is important for you to know that the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 are still draft and have not been passed into law. People can still make complaints under the existing provisions and this won't change until any new proposal is passed by Parliament.

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