A message from Australian Human Rights Commission President Rosalind Croucher
How we talk to each other matters.
It matters because words are powerful. Words shape our thinking and they inform our actions.
Words are the foundation stone upon which we build our communities.
And our goal should be to build fair, just and inclusive communities.
But the way we talk to each other – online, in the media, in our parliaments – can also be used to draw invisible borders; borders that mark out who belongs and who doesn’t.
That is why it is vital we guard against the rising tide of hate speech.
Our history shows us what horrors can unfold if we let hate speech go unchecked; when we demonise people because of their faith, or the colour of their skin, or who they love, or simply because they hold a different opinion.
Human Rights Day is a time for reflection and a time for hope.
We reflect on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted after the horrors of World War Two, and its vision for communities based on equality, respect and dignity for all.
And we take hope because, despite conflict and turmoil, that vision continues to inspire people around the world and across our region.
As Australia’s national human rights institution, and as individuals, we can help to create the kind of Australia that we want to live in.
And we start by choosing how we talk to each other.
We can choose respect. We can choose generosity. We can choose dignity. We can choose hope.
Each choice we make brings us closer to realising the ideals at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
And that is a true message of hope.