Commissioner calls for coordinated response to address spectator racism
Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said the reported racial abuse directed at NRL player Latrell Mitchell demonstrates the need for professional sports organisations, including clubs and codes, to work together to address spectator racism.
The Australian Human Rights Commission worked with major sports codes in 2021 to produce a set of Spectator Racism Guidelines, which outline best-practice approaches to preventing and responding to racist incidents.
Commissioner Tan said: “I am deeply concerned by the allegations of racial abuse directed at Latrell Mitchell during last night’s NRL match. This incident shines a light on the systemic nature of racism. Whilst often invisible, racism is a significant scourge in our society and we must unite against it.
“This incident demonstrates that more needs to be done to eliminate racism in sport. It highlights the urgent need for professional sports organisations, including clubs and codes, to work together to implement consistent and coordinated approaches.”
The Spectator Racism Guidelines aim to ensure sporting organisations, including clubs, codes and stadiums, are equipped to deal with incidents of racism. They outline proactive measures to prevent it from occurring at sporting events.
The Commission has also produced a suite of resources to implement the Guidelines, including templates, checklists, and supporting documents to help inform organisational policies, approaches, and complaints handling processes in relation to spectator racism.
Commissioner Tan said: “This incident demonstrates the need to work in a coordinated, consistent way to amplify the message that racism will not be tolerated, and there will be serious consequences for it. There is no place for racism in sport.”
“Sport holds a unique place in Australian society and helps build social connection. Unfortunately, racism in sport remains an ongoing issue, threatening our values of equality, fairness, and participation. We must use this opportunity to redouble our commitment to challenging racism – wherever it occurs,” Commissioner Tan said.
Several major sporting organisations have already provided their formal endorsement of the Guidelines. They include: Australian Institute of Sport, Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, Sport Australia, Professional Footballers Australia, Tennis Australia, Australian Basketballers Association, Golf Australia, Stadium Australia, NRL and AFL.
The Commission has extended an open invitation to support all clubs, codes, and stadiums in their commitment to combat racism. Organisations can engage the Commission for training, consultations, and communications materials to help underpin their message that racism will not be tolerated.
The Commission is also working on a wider National Anti-Racism Framework Project to address racism in all areas of society.
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