EOC Media Releases

Trolls need to be dealt with through state discrimination laws

by EOC | Mar 25, 2019

Following recent reports of social media trolls leaving racist comments regarding West Coast Eagle Liam Ryan, Acting WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne has called for stronger racial vilification laws in Western Australia.

“I am encouraged by the AFL’s swift condemnation of Tayla Harris’ sexual harassment on social media recently and I expect it to do the same in the case of Liam Ryan,” he said. 

Dr Byrne said depending on what was written, trolling on public social media forums could amount to racial vilification.

He said although we have racial vilification laws at a federal level through the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, it would be worthwhile to deal with racial vilification through the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 here in WA too.

“Every state and territory except WA and the Northern Territory has racial vilification laws incorporated in their anti-discrimination legislation.

“In WA, people can only deal with racial vilification if it is through the criminal justice system,” he said. 

Dr Byrne said a criminal complaint of vilification must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

“Complaints under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 are a civil matter, where conciliation is attempted before being referred to the State Administrative Tribunal, which determines complaints on balance of probabilities. 

“A strong message needs to be sent to people who feel online platforms are safe places for them to harass, discriminate and vilify, and I would support any policy or legislation condemning their actions,” Dr Byrne said.

Communications Officer Sarah Johnston
(08) 9216 3900 mob 0409 137 843
Level 2, 141 St Georges Terrace, Western Australia 6000
Tel:  (08) 9216 3900 –Fax: (08) 9216 3960
Email: eoc@eoc.wa.gov.au  Website www.eoc.wa.gov.au