The Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV), umbrella body to all community organisations in the state, came out publicly this week in support of the religious and ethnic groups who joined forces together in order to oppose the federal government’s proposed repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, as reported in Neos Kosmos last week.
“The proposed repeal of section 18C is a step in the wrong direction. Ethnic communities and people in general need legal protection against vilification, offensive remarks and hate speech,” said ECCV chairperson Joe Caputo OAM JP.
Recent reports indicate that around one in five Australians say they have experienced humiliating and offensive racial abuse, including racial slurs or name-calling.
“Who is going to protect victims when offenders realise they are no longer accountable under the law?” asks Mr Caputo.
The ECCV calls on the government to consult with ethnic communities in order to gain an understanding of the levels of racial hatred and vilification experienced by these groups.
In 2012-13, the Australian Human Rights Commission received a 59 per cent increase in racial vilification complaints.
Increasing levels of racial abuse is something that the ECCV, as Victoria’s peak multicultural body, has been trying to halt, by consulting with police, local government and the community to raise awareness that racial profiling, discrimination and racial vilification is unacceptable and against existing legislation.
“We call on the Attorney-General George Brandis and the government to reconsider its plans to amend section 18C, leaving people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds vulnerable to abuse and without legal protection,” said Mr Caputo.
In the meantime, Premier of Victoria Denis Napthine, when asked by Neos Kosmos about the position of the State government on this issue, said that Victoria will defend its own brand of multiculturalism.