Fighting racial vilification: less talk, more action?

There have been no prosecutions in the 26 years since the provisions creating a criminal offence for serious racial vilification became part of the NSW Anti Discrimination Act (ADA). In other words, these provisions have never been used.

It is clear that there are procedural and substantive thresholds which have undermined the effectiveness of these provisions, including the timeframe for lodging complaints and the difficulty in adducing evidence to meet the standard required under the current wording of the provisions.

RLC took part in the 2013 inquiry which led to the report, Racial Vilification Law in New South Wales. RLC welcomes the NSW Government’s recent support for the Report’s recommendations, given the provisions appear to have stagnated over the years. 

In October 2015 the Attorney General indicated a draft bill would be released in early 2016 amending the ADA to add muscle to the provisions on vilification (although as of early April, we are yet to see a draft). The Attorney General also called for input including responses to the 2013 Report to which RLC recently provided its response

  • RLC welcomes the Report’s recommendations, which include an extension from 28 days to 12 months for lodging and referring complaints, and that the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) be permitted to directly refer serious racial vilification complaints to the NSW Police Force without needing the consent of the Attorney General.
  • RLC believes the proposed amendments could go further. For example, in regard to standing to lodge vilification complaints, by empowering the President of the NSW ADB to refer a matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) without the requirement that a formal complaint is received. 
  • RLC does not support the Report’s proposal to implement procedural changes now then undertake a further review in five years to determine whether substantive amendments are still needed, substantive changes are needed now along with the procedural amendments.

Real and lasting change will be slow to come if the system remains dependent upon individual victims to lodge complaints and face their perpetrators in potentially lengthy and difficult proceedings.

  • To read our response to the final report, Racial vilification law in New South Wales, go here.
  • To read our submission to the Inquiry into Racial vilification law in NSW, go here.