Community groups welcome Victorian Government’s commitment to strengthening anti-hate protections

2 September 2021 – Victorian Aboriginal, multicultural and multifaith groups, human rights, women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights organisations have come together to welcome today’s commitment by the Victorian Government to strengthen the state’s anti-hate protections.

“As organisations representing the wonderfully diverse people of Victoria, we welcome the Victorian Government’s response to the multi-partisan consensus recommendations of the Victorian Legislative Assembly’s Legal and Social Issues Committee report into anti-vilification protections”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“We look forward to working with the government, its agencies and each other to ensure the report’s recommendations are swiftly implemented.”

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Anti-Defamation Commission, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, the Asian Australian Alliance, Equality Australia, Human Rights Law Centre, Jewish Community Council of Victoria, and the Victorian Pride Lobby, have previously worked together to advocate for the changes, and have today released a joint statement welcoming the government’s commitment and calling for the recommendations to be implemented as soon as possible.

The government’s announcement also commits to banning Nazi symbols. Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, who has been campaigning to outlaw the public displays of Nazi symbols for the last four years, said: “Bravo to the government for rising to the challenge and declaring in a clear and unmistakable voice that the ultimate emblems of inhumanity and racism, that are meant to break our spirit and instil fear, will never find a refuge in our state.”

Additional quotes from signatories:

“Aboriginal communities are subjected to racial discrimination, systemic and structural exclusion on a daily basis. The Victorian Government’s anti-vilification reforms come after a long fight by so many communities. Any changes should be done in consultation with Aboriginal communities and led by communities, said Lee-Anne Carter, State-wide Community Justice Programs Leader, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

“The Asian Australian Alliance welcomes the Victorian Government’s commitment to strengthen the State’s anti-hate protections. Our Racism Incident Reporting Survey revealed that over 90% of the
victims of abuse do not report the incident. We are hopeful that the strengthening of the protections will better facilitate the making of vilification complaints and increase understanding among community on preventing and responding to hate conduct”, said Molina Asthana, Cofounder and the Lead Victorian Convenor of the Asian Australian Alliance.

“The Jewish Community Council of Victoria welcomes the strengthening of anti-hate protections in Victoria, including the banning of Nazi symbols. Vilification of any kind should rightly be condemned”, said JCCV President, Daniel Aghion.

“Feeling safe to express who you are and what you believe in is paramount to any democracy. Muslim women have long been targeted for expressing their faith, and we welcome these reforms as a first step” said Diana SayedCEO of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to extend the state’s anti-vilification protections to cover sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status. Everyone should be able to participate in community life without fear or attack. We also welcome the Government’s commitment to better protecting LGBTIQ+ students, teachers and staff from discrimination. Nobody should face expulsion or the sack because they are LGBTIQ+” said Nevena Spirovska, co-convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby.

“Anti-vilification laws are essential to protecting women and gender diverse people from gendered hate and dangerous misogyny. In a digital world it is a daily occurrence for Victorian women engaged in social media to experience abuse based on their sex and gender – whether as advocates of
women’s issues or otherwise. The failure to provide regulation and control of digital hate and vilification is causing online behaviours to spill out more frequently into public life”, said Tanja Kovac, CEO of Gender Equity Victoria.

“While we welcome the Andrews’ Government’s commitment to stop hate in its tracks in Victoria, it’s disappointing that some law reform is only supported in principle and subject to funding. There is no excuse for racism. Every day that reform is delayed is another day in which people in Victoria can be harmed by hateful conduct. The Andrews Government must stand up against intolerance and enact best practice laws as soon as possible so that we can all be safe and live a life free from hate”,
said Monique Hurley, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre.

Media Contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au