The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission today launched a report that has found racism is a daily event in the lives of many Victorians and calls for all Victorians to do more to stand up to hate.
Commission research on the nature and extent of racism in Victoria, which includes evidence from an online survey, interviews with community stakeholders and a review of online content, confirms existing research that says most people do not report seeing or experiencing racism because they don’t know where to report it, are fearful of reprisals or they don’t think anything would be done about it.
The areas where most survey participants witnessed or experienced racism was at work (32%), on the street (31%), on public transport (15%), followed by racism in connection with a service provider (such as a hospital or a shop), and sporting events.
Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said racism can include a broad spectrum of behaviour from low-level incidents, such as offensive gestures or name calling to physical assaults.
“Racism can undermine an individual’s sense of self-worth, leave them feeling vulnerable and isolated, and affect their mental and physical health,” said Ms Toohey.
Karen Toohey said that some people think racism doesn’t happen anymore, or that it is a rare or isolated incident. However, this report clearly shows that for some people, racism is a fact of life.
“It is hard to believe that in modern Australia people are still refused service in a shop because of their skin colour or are subject to racial abuse because of their religious dress, but that is reality,” Ms Toohey said.
“For many people, it is the daily, sometimes unconscious but persistent racism they face that has the most profound impact. These subtle, low-level acts create an environment incrementally and over time, where racism can escalate.”
“We also know that racism and crimes motivated by hate harm individual health and wellbeing, for victims and bystanders. It creates fear and isolation for communities and is bad for our economy.
Reporting racism found that racism is increasingly prevalent in online environments, especially through email and social media, both by individuals and organised groups.
“While social media has been identified as a site for racial and religious hate, it can also be part of the solution when it comes to providing strong examples of community members intervening and standing up to racist views,” Ms Toohey said.
“We are calling on the community to report hate and we want to get the message out there that there are services and strategies in place to help.
Actions identified to fight hate include the Commission’s Anti-Hate campaign, which includes a website that encourages people to share their stories of confronting racism and supporting bystanders and developing community awareness education programs.
“Many of us wish we knew who to tell and how to respond to racial prejudice in a safe and appropriate way. Anti-Hate provides people with the information and tactics they need to take action when they see or experience racism,” Ms Toohey said.
“The Commission is currently working with Victoria Police under their Prejudice Motivated Crime Strategy to improve awareness of prejudice and racism occurring throughout community and to increase the reporting to police of crimes motivated by prejudice,” Ms Toohey said.
For more information about Anti-Hate, please visit www.antihate.vic.gov.au
- View the report online (http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/media/k2/attachments/Reporting_Racism_Web_low_res.pdf)