In a submission and evidence given to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Human Rights Law Centre raised serious concerns over the Government’s bill to water down both the wording and objective test in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA). The bill would have removed the terms “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” from 18C and replaced it with “harrass”. It would have also changed the objective test against which courts assess whether racial vilification has had serious and profound effects – from the reasonable member of the relevant racial or ethnic group, to ‘a reasonable member of the Australian community.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Adrianne Walters said, “It is racial and ethnic minority groups that suffer the impacts of racism, not the Australian community as a whole. We cannot and should not expect a reasonable member of the Australian community who has never had the distressing and degrading experience of being called a coon, "a black c*#t", a terrorist, or being told that Hitler should have finished you, to understand the impact of such statements and the fear and sense of exclusion they create.”