Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Canberra.
Dear Sir or madam
We write on behalf of 3ZZZ - Ethnic Communities Radio Station in Melbourne, broadcasting in 65 languages and actively supported by over 400 volunteer broadcasters
elected by their respective communities since 1988.
Unity and social cohesion in diversity have been the foundations of our generally acknowledged success as a major multilingual broadcaster and multicultural institution.
We therefore urge the Federal Government to retain the current protections of the Racial Discrimination Act. The laws against racial vilification have operated successfully since 1995, providing an accessible legal means for addressing vilification on the basis of race, colour or national or ethnic origin.
· Racism is a serious and escalating problem, as demonstrated by recent research, including by the Scanlon Foundation. Racism and racial vilification causes harm to individuals, to groups and society as a whole.
· The law has an important role to play in addressing the harm caused by racial discrimination and racial vilification. By setting standards of conduct, the laws constrain the spread of racism and racial hatred and encourages people to speak out against racism, complementing broader education strategies.
· The laws generally strike an appropriate balance between the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom from racial discrimination and vilification.
· There should be no change to Part IIA of the RDA.
· The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) process provides important access to remedies for victims of racial vilification with most complaints resolved through an accessible mediation process.
The present legislation should be retained because:
· It is strong, clear, fair, successful protection against racial vilification.
· It provides an accessible legal means for accountability: It’s free to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission for free, while it can be costly to sue for defamation.
· It’s a defining piece of legislation affirming Australia as a nation that’s democratic and culturally and racially diverse. It’s a barometer for society of what’s acceptable.
· It also protects freedom of speech by recognising fair and accurate reporting, or reasonable statements made in good faith as part of public discussion.
George Salloum, President Geeorge Zangalis Secretary