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Racial Discrimination Act 1975 amendments explained
The Federal government has proposed changes to the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA). The government is calling for public submissions on the proposed changes. Below is an explanation on how this Act works in Western Australia. Acting Commissioner Allanah Lucas (pictured left) provides the following explanation.
Section 18C of the RDA
makes it unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, that is
reasonably likely to
offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people,
because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, often referred to
as ‘racial vilification’.
If a person or group believes they have been treated
in this way, they can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC), which is the Commonwealth agency that administers the RDA.
However, certain kinds of conduct are not unlawful under the RDA -
artistic works, academic, scientific, artistic or other debate in the public
interest, fair reporting, and genuine comment.
There is no equivalent of
section 18C in the WA Equal Opportunity Act. Therefore, a person in WA
who believes they have been racially vilified in public can lodge a complaint under
the RDA with the AHRC but not with the Equal Opportunity Commission.
Alternatively, if intimidation or threats of violence are
involved, it is potentially a criminal offence and such incidents can be
reported to the police.
Federal Government has recently introduced a bill to amend section 18C, so as
to increase the level of severity required before racial vilification is found
to be unlawful. Until such time as the bill becomes law, the existing wording
of section 18C applies.
For more information see Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs address to the National Press Club. Gillian Triggs at the National Press Club
To make a submission see the following guide provided by the Human Rights Law Centre Guide to making a submission
EOC e-bulletin: International Day for the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination or Harmony Day
Events that call attention to this day celebrate harmony and
promote greater respect and trust among different groups in our communities.
This day also commemorates lives that have been lost in the fight for democracy
and equal human rights.
Also featured International Women's Day Equal Opportunity Commission event. Pictured from left speakers Allanah Lucas, Tonya McCusker, Joan Peters and Erica Smyth. Read the e-bulletin
Kimberley landscape features on calendar
The Equal Opportunity Commission Aboriginal calendar is still available. You can order copies of the calendar here.
The Equal Opportunity Commission respectfully acknowledges the past and present traditional owners of Western Australia and pays respects to the traditional custodians of this land.