Submission: Federal Attorney-General’s Consultation about Proposed Amendments to s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)

Redfern Legal Centre has a long history of providing legal services to members of the local community who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or have a culturally and linguistically diverse background.

Many of Redfern Legal Centre’s clients have experienced direct racial discrimination and vilification in their daily lives, as well as the systemic disadvantage arising from racism in a range of different areas of life including employment and housing.

Redfern Legal Centre’s views in summary

Redfern Legal Centre is concerned about the impact on the community of the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. In particular, Redfern Legal Centre is concerned that repealing key sections of the Act relating to racial vilification will provide people (such as many of our clients) who have experienced racial vilification with fewer and less accessible legal avenues through which to address this issue. In the long term, this could contribute to a shift in community attitudes, towards racism and away from respect and inclusion for all races and cultures.

Redfern Legal Centre believes strongly in freedom of expression as a human right, but considers that it needs to be balanced against other fundamental rights, such as the right to be able to live free from discrimination, harassment and vilification. Redfern Legal Centre believes that the Racial Discrimination Act in its current form achieves an appropriate balance between these different rights, and therefore submits that the existing ss 18B, 18C, 18D and 18E be retained. 

Redfern Legal Centre welcomes the opportunity to engage in a consultation process with the Federal Attorney-General’s Department about its proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, and hopes that this will be the beginning of an ongoing and open dialogue in relation to the important human rights issues raised through this process. A copy of Redfern Legal Centre’s response to the consultation is available below.