23 March 2021
Final report into anti-vilification protections in Victoria
CMY welcomes the announcement of a number of critical, and long overdue, measures to address hate and tackle discrimination and racism in our communities and our nation.
The Victorian Inquiry into Anti-vilification Protections has released its Final Report, presenting a series of reforms that, if implemented, will strengthen access to current protections against hate and vilification and extend these protections to additional attributes. The report acknowledges that current anti-vilification laws are inaccessible and ineffective in their current form.
CMY supports the sentiment of the Committee expressed throughout this report that hate and the harm it causes diminishes all of us and requires a stronger response. We congratulate the Committee on recognising the need to go beyond symbolism to reinforce the rights of all Victorians, for exploring the broader contexts in which hate causes harm, and for their commitment to listening to the voices of young people, communities, and the services that support them, and addressing their concerns.
Shashwat Tripathi, a CMY youth leader who gave evidence to the inquiry, said on the release of the Final Report:
“Representation is important. Listening to people and their communities is important. This report re-instils my faith in the Victorian Government – that I am heard. However, actual work now needs to be done. The report brought our voices forward. But it is not enough. It’s time for the Victorian Government to act and make the anti-vilification laws accessible to multicultural people who have additional intersectional identities of sexual orientation, religion, and disabilities.”
At the heart of the proposed reforms is a recognition that, in the words of the Committee, “hate has become systemic and reverberates over generations” – despite ongoing, widespread community support for multiculturalism the incidence of vilification and hate conduct in Victoria continues to rise and has moved into online environments. In response, the Committee’s recommendations appropriately go beyond reforms of the law to recognise the need for greater community engagement and education to address prejudicial behaviours and attitudes, and strengthen access to protections and supports to address the harms caused by hate.
CMY is pleased to see the Committee urge the Victorian Government to strengthen the regulatory and enforcement powers of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and introduction of community-led (third party) reporting mechanisms. If implemented, such changes would ease concerns around potential victimisation and take the burden away from individuals who have experienced vilification.
CMY welcomes the strong focus of recommendations on addressing the harm caused by hate and improving support for impacted individuals and communities; funding for ongoing research into the drivers behind vilification conduct and prejudice, and effective strategies to prevent this conduct; strengthened data collection and reporting requirements; and specific measures to respond to online vilification, including building the community’s digital literacy and online safety skills.
Some of the key recommendations include:
- Extending protections to cover additional attributes, including include gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex characteristics, and HIV/AIDS status, in addition to race and religion, and that a person be able to make a complaint based on multiple protected attributes.
- Lowering the threshold and simplifying the test for vilification to make to make laws more accessible, ensuring all Victorian’s are able to access their rights.
- The introduction of harm-based provisions that look at the harm caused to an individual or target group.
- Implementation of community engagement and education programs, including within primary schools to strengthen respect, diversity and cohesion.
- Incorporating vilification protections into the Equal Opportunity Act, and introducing a positive duty for organisations to prevent vilification.
“CMY want to thank and acknowledge the young people who shared their stories and perspectives with the Committee,” said CEO Carmel Guerra.
“Speaking publicly about such personal and traumatic experiences takes incredible personal strength and insight, and we thank you for speaking up for other young Victorians and advocating for such important changes.”
We look forward to working with young people and the Victorian Government to implement these recommendations and build a stronger, fairer, safer Victoria for all.
Read the full report: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic-la/inquiries/article/4335