Racial and religious vilification
Release date: Mon 2 November 2009
Last updated: Mon 25 February 2013
Victoria Police takes racial and religious vilification seriously. Racial and/or religious vilification occurs when a person behaves in a way that encourages hatred, revulsion or ridicule of another person, because of the other person's race or religion.
Serious racial or religious vilification occurs where a person intentionally behaves in a way that encourages hatred, revulsion or ridicule of another person and threatens physical harm to that person or their property, or encourages serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule of that person/class of person, because of their race or religion.
What to do if you are a victim of serious racial or religious vilification involving threats of violence?
Serious vilification may involve threats of violence. This can be both upsetting and frightening. Should you become a victim of serious racial or religious vilification, you should:
In an emergency, always phone Triple Zero (000).
Reporting serious racial or religious vilification to police
If you believe serious racial or religious vilification has occurred you are urged to report the matter to your local police. Victoria Police understands that for some people attending a police station can create stress and anxiety. If this applies to you, please contact your local Multicultural Liaison Officer (MLO). While the MLO will not actively investigate the matter, he/she will support you throughout the reporting process. Community groups may also become aware of possible serious religious or racial vilification and can similarly report matters to local police.
About the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
In recognition of Victoria's cultural and religious diversity, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (the Act) was introduced to promote community acceptance of racial and religious diversity.
While the Act recognises the importance of freedom of expression in an open and multicultural democracy, it also recognises the rights of all citizens to full and equal participation in society. Victoria is a model of cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and whilst the majority of Victorians embrace this diversity, some individuals and groups do suffer vilification on the grounds of their race or religion. Vilification diminishes dignity and sense of self worth and affects the ability of individuals to contribute to society. This reduces the benefits that diversity delivers to the community.
Contained within the Act are the two criminal offences of serious racial vilification and serious religious vilification. Serious racial or religious vilification occurs where:
Under the terms of the Act, such conduct includes use of the Internet or email to publish or transmit statements or other material.
Lodging a civil complaint
Civil complaints of vilification are different by definition to criminal complaints of vilification. The following organisations can be contacted for information about lodging a civil complaint of vilification.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission can lodge complaints about racial or religious vilification. VEOHRC can be contacted at::
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Civil complaints about racial hatred can also be lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission. You can contact the AHRC for more information, via:
Australian Human Rights Commission
For a copy of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, please visit the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website at http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au.
For a copy of the Race Discrimination Act 1975, please visit the AHRC website at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/legislation/index.html.