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'A Brave Piece of Legislation': The Racial Discrimination Act, 40 Years On

Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, delivered the opening address to the RDA@40 Conference in Sydney, 19-20 February 2015. The following is an edited version of that address.

Read the full article following the link below

You can also read the full speech from our website.

Free thinking?

Many say freedom of expression means nothing if it doesn’t entail a freedom to offend others. Enjoying such freedom means that you may also have to tolerate hurtful or distasteful speech. But what if the burden of tolerance is not borne equally? What if some forms of speech wound not merely sensibilities but also another person’s dignity? How should a liberal democracy treat forms of speech that degrade others because of their race?

Anti-racism on the job - Tackling discrimination in employment and the workplace

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane profiles racial discrimination in employment and the workplace, its impact on individuals and initiatives that have been developed to overcome it.

You’re not a killjoy calling out racism

THE historian John Hirst has described Australia as a democracy of manners — we treat one another as social equals.

We are certainly informal and familiar in how we interact. We sit in the front seat with a taxi driver, we rarely refer to people as “sir” or “madam”. And we’re not afraid to let our egalitarianism rip with good-humoured banter.

Sometimes, however, we can go too far. What begins as raillery can end up as “casual racism”.

Read the full article following the link below

Racial Vilification Law Unites Australians

Few political debates have the effect of uniting Australians. Yet, in one sense, the contest over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act did precisely that. There has been an emphatic affirmation of our commitment to racial tolerance.

Read the full article by following the link below.

RDA@40 Conference 2015 - 40 years of the Racial Discrimination Act

40 years of the Racial Discrimination Act - RDA @40 Conference. Sydney 19-20 February 2015

The year 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), Australia’s first federal human rights and anti-discrimination legislation.

Behind the Scenes

Tuesday 16 December, 2014

'What you say matters' was developed by hip-hop artist Brothablack together with the cast, who are all students at James Meehan High School in south-western Sydney.  The students workshopped the scenes based on real-life experiences and the issues that are important to them. James Meehan is one of the most culturally diverse schools in the state and cultural identity is a big issue for many of the students. This is reflected in the video. For example, Cassie (who receives the text message in the quadrangle) and Adam (who is bumped in the bus queue) are both Indigenous.

What does the law say? - WYSM

Tuesday 16 December, 2014


Brothablak with student in classroom

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 makes racial discrimination and racial hatred unlawful in public places.

What can you do?

Tuesday 16 December, 2014


Brothablak pointing at camera

We’ve all been a bystander at one time or another. It can be uncomfortable. Often people don’t respond because they don’t want to be a target of abuse themselves.

Many people want to stand against racism but aren’t sure how. Standing up to racism can be a powerful sign of support. It can also make the perpetrator think twice about their actions.

Why is racism a problem?

Tuesday 16 December, 2014
"If I wasn't hearing bad things about myself, I wouldn't think "oh, I'm a bad person, I can't do this, I am not going to do it". Whereas if no one said anything bad about me, I would push myself harder into doing things and knowing that I can do it, no matter what happens I will do it … but I just can't."
- Ekta, 15

Student staring at another student on a sports field