Skip to main content

Agenda for racial equality 2012-2016 - Agenda for racial equality

Agenda for racial equality 2012-2016

3 Agenda
for racial equality

3.1 Ensuring
social and economic outcomes

We know there is a correlation between discrimination and disadvantage.
Research shows that racial discrimination contributes to social and economic
disadvantage;[8] likewise, social and
economic exclusion can exacerbate experiences of racial

Racial equality requires that opportunities for social and economic inclusion
are available to people of all races and ethnicities. Barriers to inclusion
prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from culturally
and linguistically diverse backgrounds from achieving equality.

We know that people in different parts of the country face different barriers
and challenges.[10] We must use a
range of solutions and tools to achieve equality: there is no single approach
that will work in all situations.

(a) Reducing
inequality and improving life chances

Adequate housing,
nutritious food, mental and physical health and wellbeing, and income security
are recognised as fundamental human rights. Without them, it is almost
impossible for individuals to achieve an adequate standard of living, let alone
contribute fully to the social and economic life of our country.

In reality, different
racial and ethnic groups in Australia enjoy these rights to differing degrees
– often as a result of structural and systemic discrimination.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience demonstrable
inequality. Compared to other Australians, they experience poorer outcomes in
housing, health, income security and life
expectancy,[11] higher rates of
family violence and over-representation in the criminal justice

Barriers to equality and to full participation also exist in culturally and
linguistically diverse communities. For example, new and emerging migrant groups
such as African-Australian communities experience particular challenges in
accessing affordable and appropriate housing, in health and wellbeing and,
particularly for young people, in their interactions with the justice

Specific policy and program approaches by all levels of government are
required, so that all individuals have an equal opportunity to achieve their
potential and contribute to the prosperity of the whole community.

At times, special measures will be necessary to ensure that people of a
particular race enjoy rights and freedoms equally with

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has made significant commitments
to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage through the Closing the Gap strategy.[15] The Government has also committed to develop and implement a National Human
Rights Action Plan
to improve the protection and promotion of human rights,
building in indicators to ensure that we can measure
progress.[16] Efforts in these areas
are to be commended.

However, to be effective, the National Human Rights Action Plan will
need to complement and reinforce the Closing the Gap strategy, as well as
other national strategies to address issues such as housing affordability,
homelessness and violence against women and children.

A commitment by the Federal Government to engage with Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the
implementation of these strategies will also be critical to ensure that specific
human rights issues experienced by these communities are addressed.

Priority: Advocate for Government policies and programs to
be implemented in ways which protect and promote the human rights of all racil
and ethnic groups in Australia

(b) Supporting
sustainable employment outcomes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comprise 2.5 per cent of
our overall population.[17] Yet they
experience a disproportionately high rate of unemployment: 16per cent of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are unemployed, compared with
a rate of around 5 per cent for of the general

Improving the employment participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples is a key factor in reducing individual and family disadvantage,
and it benefits the population as a whole. Research has shown that increasing
the proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the
workforce, particularly in skilled and well-remunerated positions, will make a
significant contribution to the national

Different approaches to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
in gaining and sustaining employment are needed, to reflect differences between
communities. While around a third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples live in major cities, about a quarter live in remote or very remote
communities in which the employment and education options are very

Partnerships between public and private sector employers, communities and
education providers to deliver training, mentoring and job opportunities have
the potential to lead to real, systemic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people and communities. Where these approaches are successful,
they should be built on and

Refugees and new migrant groups

In 2011-12, Australia granted 184 998 permanent visas, which included
125 755 from the skill stream and 58 604 from the family reunion stream. In
addition, 13 759 people were granted visas under Australia’s humanitarian

The economic benefit of migration is well established.

Modelling by Access Economics has indicated that the cohort of migrants
arriving in Australia in any one year contributes $535 million to the federal
budget in their first 12 months. This rises to $1.3 billion by their
20th year.[23]

Humanitarian settlement in regional and rural areas has led to the filling of
critical labour shortages in agriculture and primary industries, and the
revitalisation of areas experiencing population

Businesses are increasingly recognising the benefits of building a workforce
that includes migrants: they attract high quality staff from a broader talent
pool, increase their ability to cater for new national and international
markets, and improve their public

Many migrants come to Australia with high levels of employability –
indeed many arrive specifically to fill positions in occupations where there are
skill shortages.

However, research indicates that some vulnerable groups find the employment
pathway challenging – most notably those who arrive through the
humanitarian and family reunion

Government has made a great deal of investment in developing avenues to
employment for these groups. The recently launched Migration Council of
Australia will assist in building partnerships between corporate Australia, the
community sector and Government, which will be valuable in consolidating that

Nevertheless, newly arrived refugee and migrant groups can face a range of
systemic barriers in gaining sustainable employment. Research demonstrates the
consequences of these barriers not only for their financial security but for
health and wellbeing.[28]

Continued investment in settlement services, training and employment programs
and support for businesses and employers will help create sustainable employment
outcomes and support these communities’ financial
independence.[29] It will also
increase the already substantial contribution that migrants and their families
make to the Australian economy.

Priority: Identify opportunities to support and promote good
practice initiatives to achieve employment outcomes for vulnerable racial and
ethnic groups

(c) Recognition
of overseas qualifications

The need to improve processes for recognition of overseas qualifications is a
persistent theme in consultations with culturally and linguistically diverse
communities, and is an issue that has been raised in complaints to the

Where people with qualifications gained overseas are unable to have these
recognised in Australia, their opportunities to achieve meaningful and
sustainable employment are severely limited. This strongly affects their
ability to make a productive contribution to the Australian community and places
them at risk of long-term economic disadvantage.

Balancing the standards required in professions and industries in Australia
with the potential skills that can be brought into different sectors can be
enormously complex.

There is merit in working collaboratively with regulatory bodies to identify
any institutional practices that may unfairly discriminate on the basis of

Addressing any such barriers would help to ensure that the skills of people
who migrate to Australia are fully utilised, and in turn, benefit them, their
families and the community as a whole.

Priority: Work with bodies that regulate professions to
identify and address any systemic inequalities in the recognition of overseas

(d) Supporting
inclusive education

Education is a critical factor for ensuring that young people have the skills
and capacity to shape their own futures and make a strong and positive
contribution to the community.

It is important that all educational settings are inclusive of, and
responsive to, children and young people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds
and that the school curriculum adequately reflects Australia’s history.

Much work is already being done to progress this through the creation of
National Curriculum. The curriculum will give special attention to Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and Australia’s
engagement with Asia.[30]

Including human rights in the National Curriculum would help to create a
stronger foundation for specific programs to prevent bullying and
discrimination, and promote inclusion and respect for
diversity.[31] This work has the
potential to be extended across our educational system, from pre-school and
primary to secondary levels.[32]

Improving educational achievement and completion rates for year 12 are key
factors in improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young
people.[33] We also know that there
are significant challenges facing young people who arrive in Australia through
humanitarian settlement

Again, these issues are complex. On the one hand, schools area gateway: they
prepare and equip students to seize their future opportunities. At the same
time, though, all schools must manage immediate competing demands – many
of which arise from the diversity of student backgrounds, and relate directly to
a young person’s wellbeing.

Research showing that a number of young people across Australia have
experienced racism at school is cause for
concern.[35] However, many positive
initiatives are taking place to build culturally competent and inclusive

Some schools and education departments have adopted specific anti-racism
strategies to complement efforts to deal with bullying and
harassment.[36] Others have created
curriculum tools that support multicultural
classrooms.[37] These initiatives
should be supported and shared, as they contribute to ensuring that all young
people can enjoy equality of opportunity at school.

Priority: Identify opportunities for partnerships to support
the inclusiveness of the education system for young people of all racial and
ethnic backgrounds

Investing in language proficiency and competency

English proficiency is a key to accessing education and employment
opportunities, and building social cohesion. At the same time, though, we must
protect against the loss of culture and identity that can arise when individuals
lose the language of their origins. This is especially true for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations report
speaking English at home (83 per cent in the 2011
census).[38] For this group, the
critical issue is loss of indigenous languages: only 9 per cent spoke both
English and an indigenous language well.

For migrants from non-English speaking countries, though, the issue is
different. Research indicates that the employment rate for people with low
English proficiency is very low: around 36 per

Investing in support for newly arrived communities to increase English
proficiency is essential for both social and economic participation. New and
emerging communities, such as those recently arrived from Africa, clearly
identify the need for increased English language training as central to their
participation in vocational training and

Coupled with this is the need for effective and accessible translation and
interpreter services that allow people to participate in an informed way in
decisions that affect their lives. This is of concern both to migrant
communities and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote
parts of Australia. Around 47 per cent of Aboriginal peoples speak an Indigenous
language at home in remote areas, compared to only 0.5% in major

Agencies face a number of difficulties in providing such services, including
lack of adequate funding, lack of training on identifying the need for
interpreters, insufficient time to engage interpreters, unavailability of
interpreters, and client lack of awareness of interpreter

It is vital that we continue to improve access to quality accredited
interpreting and translation services to build the capacity of individuals,
communities and services.

Priority: Engage with the settlement sector to address
barriers to the use of qualified interpreters in service delivery

Improving cultural competence for appropriate and quality service

Cultural competence has been defined as: “A set of congruent
behaviours, attitudes, and policies that ... enable [a] system, agency or those
professions to work effectively in cross-cultural

It requires much more than awareness of cultural beliefs and practices: it
demands the integration of culture into the delivery of services. To become
culturally competent, a system needs to:

  • acknowledge and value diversity, both within and between cultures
  • have the capacity for cultural self-assessment
  • be conscious of the dynamics that occur when cultures interact
  • institutionalise cultural knowledge
  • adapt policies, practices and service delivery to reflect the diversity
    between and within

competency is a concept that is generally not well understood – let alone
consistently applied – by service

When it is applied, it ensures that services and supports delivered by
government, non-government and private organisations are appropriate and
accessible to all people, regardless of race. This is particularly important
where there is a risk of significant breaches of human rights– such as in
delivery of health services or engagement with the law and justice system.

At the federal level, there is a pressing need to better employ cultural
competence to improve service delivery and interface with specific

Priority: Partner with public sector agencies to improve
cultural competency in the delivery of government services

3.2 Building
a strong legal framework

Legal protections form a strong basis for efforts to achieve racial equality
in Australia.

We have had domestic legal protections against racial discrimination in place
since the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) was introduced. Our
ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
provides the foundation for these protections, and
Australia’s periodic reporting under the Convention provides opportunities
to assess our progress. However, there is more that we can achieve.

(a) Improving
protections against discrimination

At the time of developing this Agenda, the Australian government is moving to
consolidate all federal anti-discrimination laws into one domestic law. This
means that the current provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) will be built into a single anti-discrimination law. The Federal
Government has made it clear that existing protections will be upheld through
the consolidation process.[47]

Anti-discrimination legislation promotes equality of access to the areas of
public life that are essential for social and economic inclusion, such as
employment, housing and provision of goods and services. These laws have been in
place since the 1970’s and demonstrate Australia’s strong, and
bipartisan, commitment to prevent and reduce discrimination in all areas of
public life.

The development of a consolidated anti-discrimination act will ideally serve
to make federal discrimination laws easier to understand, enforce and comply
with, and thus more

It also provides an important opportunity for the Commission to work closely
with organisations in the private and public sphere, and support them to meet
their obligations to prevent discrimination on the basis of race and other

Priority: Develop resources to help business understand and
comply with their obligations regarding racial discrimination under Federal

(b) Constitutional
Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

In late 2010 the Prime Minister established an Expert
Panel to look at possible reform to formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people in the Constitution.

The report and recommendations arising from the Expert Panel’s
extensive consultative process were handed to the Prime Minister on 19 January
2012.[49]The question of when a
referendum will be held on this important issue is yet to be determined by the

The Panel has made a number of recommendations to address
the lack of recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in
Australia’s Constitution, and the constitutional authorisation of racial

These are historical legacies which were not addressed at the time of the
1967 constitutional referendum, which gave Federal Parliament the power to make
laws in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and allowed for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be included in the census.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has expressed strong support for the
Expert Panel’s

If change is to be achieved, we must build community understanding of the
proposed constitutional amendments and their significance as a priority.
Although this work is being led by other agencies, the Racial Discrimination
Act 1975
(Cth) creates a clear mandate for the Australian Human Rights
Commission to support all efforts to gain equality for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples.[51] [52]

Priority: Support the community education campaign for
constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

(c) Supporting
the implementation of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous

The Declaration, formally supported by Australia in April 2009, recognises
the rights of indigenous peoples across the world.

It incorporates the rights to self-determination; participation in
decision-making and free, prior and informed consent; respect for and protection
of culture, and equality and non-discrimination.

While the Declaration is a non-binding instrument, it provides a valuable
framework to inform the work of government in all of its dealings with
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Declaration also informs the particular protections the Racial
Discrimination Act 1975
(Cth) offers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples, such as the right to equality and non-discrimination. For
example, the Declaration recognises that while Indigenous peoples are equal to
all other peoples, they have the right to be different, and to be respected as

To this end, the Declaration is a valuable tool for pursuing the realisation
of racial equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Priority: Advocate for the implementation of the Declaration
of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

(d) Protection
of workplace rights for all people
, including temporary migrant

Current public debate about workplace shortages and skills has not adequately
canvassed the options for maximising the use of existing labour, including the
contributions of those who have recently settled in Australia.

The fact that this debate is taking place at a time when economic conditions
and financial insecurity raise concern about the protection of jobs within the
Australian workforce has led to a worrying tone of xenophobia in many

In fact, economic stability and opportunity for Australian workers is best
safeguarded when all employees’ rights are protected. That includes the
rights of migrant workers, including temporary overseas workers.

There is a broad need to ensure that rights of all workers and the
obligations of all employers are clearly communicated and upheld. This is
particularly critical where overseas workers may not be aware of domestic
protections, or may be concerned about the ramifications of asserting their
workplace rights.[55]

While these issues remain the primary responsibility of other federal
regulators such as Fair Work Australia, potentially discriminatory practices or
barriers that exist for any workers contribute to social and economic

Priority: Work with employer bodies, unions and other
regulators to identify and address practices which may contribute to employment

3.3 Preventing
racism and racial hatred

Racism is poorly understood in Australia. Many people are very cautious about
naming racist behaviour - research shows that those who do not experience racism
believe that it involves major incidents or acts of violence on a scale that is,
thankfully, rarely seen in this
country.[56] Few recognise that
seemingly low-level behaviour can escalate into – or at least soften the
environment for – acts of harassment, intimidation or

If we are to achieve racial equality, we must work to prevent racism, racial
hatred and racial violence. In order to do this, we first need to acknowledge
that racism does exist in Australia and learn to name racist behaviour when it
occurs. The National Anti-Racism Strategy provides an important
opportunity to progress this.

(a) Raising
awareness of racism and supporting responses to it

Key objectives of the National Anti-Racism Strategy are to create
awareness of racism and its impacts and to empower individuals and communities
to prevent and respond to racism where it occurs, with a specific focus on youth

Racism comes in many forms and can have serious consequences for the people
who experience it. The experience of racism can directly reduce an
individual’s ability to contribute to, and participate fully in, community
life, which can further entrench

We need to create better community understanding about the damaging effects
of racism and encourage all sectors of the community to play a role in
addressing it. There are many encouraging initiatives taking place around
Australia which provide a strong foundation for this

There is also potential to build on the Australian work that is starting to
identify what bystanders can do in response to racism. There is scope for
development of targeted initiatives to support bystanders in all areas of life
– schools, sport, workplaces, public spaces – to speak up when they
witness racism and provide support to the person experiencing it, in a similar
way to approaches to address

Priority: Implementation of the National Anti-Racism
Strategy with a particular focus on young people

(b) Combating
cyber racism as an emerging form of bullying and racial hatred

Almost one quarter of racial hatred complaints to the Commission in 2010-2011
focused on material conveyed over the Internet, including through email,
webpages and chat-rooms.[61]

It is important that we work to both build a greater understanding of the
harm caused by cyber-racism and to identify ways to combat it.

Social media and social marketing provide opportunities to harness the
positive potential of the internet, to educate the community about racism and
how to respond to it, and to empower internet users to participate in positive
social change.

The Commission is currently building its expertise in this area through the
BackMeUp cyber bullying project, which aims to help young people safely utilise
online technologies.[62] We will
continue to collaborate with industry and other stakeholders to develop new

Consideration also needs to be given to strengthening regulation and to
co-operative work between industry and regulators to improve responses to
cyber-racism. The Commission has undertaken work in this area in the past on
which there is potential to build in the

Priority: Build on previous work of the Commission to improve
industry, regulatory and community responses to cyber-racism.

(c) Improving responses
to racial hatred and violence

There has recently been an increased public focus on balancing the right to
freedom of expression with the prohibition of racial hatred in the Racial
Discrimination Act

Freedom of expression is an important human right that underpins a robust
democracy. Like most other human rights, it is not absolute. When freedom of
expression intersects with the right to equality and non-discrimination, the law
must provide a means of resolving that conflict.

We know that racial abuse, harassment, intimidating and threatening behaviour
and public commentary that inflames hostility towards people of certain racial
or ethnic backgrounds has a real impact on individuals and communities in
Australia.[64] However, it is
important to ensure that laws intended to address such conduct are effective in
achieving their objectives.

The office of the Race Discrimination Commissioner has a key role to play in
dialogue with Government and with the broader community on these issues.

Guided by our obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination, it is also important that we develop mechanisms
to better understand and address racial violence.

In 1991 the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released a
comprehensive report on the findings of the National Inquiry into Racist
Violence. The report concluded that racist violence exists in Australia at a
level that is cause for concern and should be addressed.

The report made a number of recommendations including enacting provisions at
the Federal level which criminalise racial violence and incitement to racial
hatred, and removing Australia’s reservation to Article 4(a) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination which
requires that state parties implement such
provisions.[65] [66]

However, Australia’s reservation to the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
remains in place and there
are no criminal provisions relating to racial violence or incitement to racial
hatred in Federal law.[67] While
some states and territories have laws which criminalise serious racial
vilification or take account of whether other crimes are motivated by racial
hatred or prejudice, these laws are inconsistent across the

Further, there is currently no comprehensive process in Australia for
collecting data on crimes motivated by racial hatred or prejudice. Building our
knowledge and understanding of the nature and incidence of racially motivated
violence can:

  • inform policy responses by different levels of government to ensure the
    safety of vulnerable groups;
  • better equip law enforcement agencies to deal with these issues; and
  • contribute to the development of law reform initiatives at state and federal

particular harm to the individual, their community and broader Australian
society caused by crimes motivated by racial hatred or prejudice has been
recognised in cases in which they have been
prosecuted.[70] In order to
adequately address racial violence it is important to strengthen the legal
framework and responses by law enforcement agencies across the country.

The Federal Government has committed, in response to the United Nations
Universal Periodic Review process, to review all reservations under
international conventions.[71] The
review of Australia’s reservation to the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
will be an important step in
progressing these objectives.

Priority: Contribute to any consideration of changes to
Australia’s legal protections in relation to racial hatred and

3.4 Leadership
in support of Australia’s diverse communities

cultural diversity and supporting racial equality depends on leadership at the
political, business and community levels. There are many areas of public life
that would benefit from a greater connection to the full, diverse extent of
talent available to us as a country.

Sport provides excellent examples of adopting inclusive practices and zero
tolerance of racism – and the resulting business benefits of new talent
and expanded spectator markets that can

Some gains have also been made in other spheres: such as employment in the
public and private sectors, and in the arts. But the diversity of our community
is not yet reflected in senior levels of management or on boards, or in the
faces of our media and entertainment
industries.[73] [74] There is still a cultural glass

(a) Encouraging
leadership in employment to support equal participation at all levels

Identifying barriers to equal participation in employment, including racism
in the form of unconscious bias, is important even for those workplaces which
have comprehensive diversity programs.

The lack of cultural diversity in the senior ranks of companies and on boards
highlights the fact that equality must focus on progression as well as
recruitment, and become part of overall business planning.

Businesses prosper when they reflect the characteristics of their markets in
their management profile.[75] Diversity also leads to innovation: a critical attribute for Australian
businesses at a time when the world economy is being reshaped.

There is a need to continually build the business case for promoting equality
and tackling racism. This work will rely on constructive, collaborative
partnerships with the private sector.

Priority: Support initiatives to improve cultural diversity in
the leadership of private and public sector agencies.

(b) Enhancing
diversity of representation in the entertainment industry

Social cohesion would be reinforced and supported if our entertainment
industry better reflected and represented the many cultures of the Australian

The importance of the entertainment industry is often underestimated;
however, it plays a crucial role in shaping the public’s values and
opinions. It has been recognised internationally that protecting and recognising
cultural diversity in the entertainment industry is an important element of
building strong and resilient

We are increasingly hearing calls for people from different racial
backgrounds to be visibly represented in the entertainment industry, in
recruitment, casting and programming

Ideally, these goals should be realised through a voluntary process that
builds on successful cultural diversity programs overseas. Programs developed
through alliances between industry and its representative bodies can build an
industry that better reflects the market that it serves.

Priority: Identify opportunities to work with industry and its
representative bodies to encourage its diversification

(c) Building
collaboration and cooperation through the media

Recent consultations conducted by the Commission identified racial
stereotyping by the media as an ongoing
issue.[79] Of greater concern are
accusations that certain sections of the industry have inflamed public hostility
towards certain racial and ethnic
groups.[80] [81] [82]

Freedom of the press is a key element of a robust and strong democracy.
However, public debate should never be protected at the expense of stigmatising
a group in the community on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

The portrayal of racial and ethnic groups and the use of race descriptors by
the media require attention to ensure that particular groups are not negatively
stereotyped or vilified in the process of reporting specific incidents.

There exist precedents developed in co-operation with media providers to
guide responsible reporting of incidents such as suicide. Similar initiatives
may be valuable in relation to reporting incidents which have a racial or ethnic
dimension. These should be developed in collaboration with industry so that they
are appropriate and sustainable.

Priority: Work with the media industry and regulatory bodies
to address reporting of race issues


[8] Y Paradies, L Chandrakumar, N Klocker, M Frere, K Webster, M Burrell, & P
McLean, Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based
discrimination and support diversity in Victoria: Full report
[9] M Ruteere, Report of the
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance (2012) UN Doc.
[10] Australian Human
Rights Commission, National Anti-Racism Strategy consultation report (2012).
[11] Australian Bureau of
Statistics, The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Peoples
(29 October 2010). At
[12] In 2011, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made up 26% of the
prisoner population. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Prisoners in Australia
(2011). At
[13] Australian Human Rights Commission, In our own words: African Australians: A
review of human rights and social inclusion issues
(2010). At
[14] Australian Human Rights Commission, Guide to the RDA – Special
At: (viewed 17 August 2012)
[15] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Closing the Gap, (viewed 3 August 2012).
[16] Attorney-General’s Department, Australia’s National Human Rights
Action Plan
. At 17 August 2012)
[17] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Peoples profile
, Cat no. 2002.0
[18] Australian Bureau of
Statistics, Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Australians, Estimates from the Labour Force Survey
(released 26
July 2012). At
[19] Access Economics, An overview of the economic impact of Indigenous
(2008), vi. At
Bureau of Statistics, 4705.0 - Population Distribution, Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Australians, 2006.
[21] For example, GenerationOne is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to provide
employment and education opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples (;
and the Australian Employment Covenant, a national industry-led initiative to
close the gap in employment (
[22] Department of Immigration
and Citizenship, 2011–12 Migration Program Report (2012), p16. At
[23] Access Economics, Migrants Fiscal Impact Model: 2008Update (2008), ii. At
[24] Refugee Council of Australia, Economic, civic and social contributions of
refugee and humanitarian entrants
(2010), p15. At
[25] The European Commission, The Business Case for Diversity: Good practices in

Workplace (2005). At
[26] The study showed that 31% of humanitarian visa holders were employed five years
after arrival in Australia, compared to 84% of skilled migrants. A significant
proportion of humanitarian entrants were engaged in study. Department of
Immigration and Citizenship, Settlement outcomes of new arrivals (2011),
p27. At
[27] Migration Council of
Australia, ‘Migration Council Australia launched’, (Media
release, 1 August 2012).
[28] 35%
of humanitarian visa holders said that they often used their highest
qualification in their main job. Only 2.7% of humanitarian visa holders reported
earning over $62,605, compared to 38% of skilled migrants. Department of
Immigration and Citizenship, Settlement outcomes of new arrivals (2011),
p30 and 32. Research also indicates that new migrants who are overqualified for
their jobs are more likely to suffer from mental illness if they are unable to
secure meaningful employment after 3.5 years. Western Australian Institute for
Medical Research, ‘Skilled Migrants in Low Paid Jobs Risk
Depression’ (2012). At
[29] AMES Victoria, Inquiry into Multiculturalism in Australia, Submission to
Joint Standing Committee Inquiry into Multiculturalism (2011), p16. At
[30] Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, The Shape of the
Australian Curriculum version 3
(2011), p 22.At
[31] Australian Human Rights Commission, Human rights education in the national
school curriculum: position paper of the Australian Human Rights Commission
(2011). At
[32] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, National
. At
[33] In 2008, COAG identified six targets to address the disadvantage faced by
Indigenous Australians one of which was to halve the gap for Indigenous students
in Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment rates by 2020. See COAG, Closing the
Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage
, (viewed 3 August 2012). Gaps remain between the educational outcomes of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and other students with evidence
from across Australia showing that the more remote the community the poorer the
student outcomes. This is clear on all indicators including participation in
early childhood education, literacy and numeracy, attendance, retention, and
post-school transitions. See Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood
Development and Youth Affairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Education Action Plan 2010 – 2014
, p 7. At in Schooling[34] Australian Human Rights
Commission, In our own words - African Australians: A review of human rights
and social inclusion issues
(2010), pp 13, 20, 26, 29-30, 40-43, 46 and
48-53; Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Rights of
passage – two years on
(2010). At;
Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Settlement Outcomes of New
(2011). At;
Foundation House, Barriers to and facilitators of utilisation of mental
health services by young people of refugee background
(2012). At
[35] F Mansouri, L Jenkins, L
Morgan and M Taouk, The impact of racism upon the health and wellbeing of
young Australians
(2009), pp 19, 54-55, 83-84 and 103. At
[36] For example, all public schools in New South Wales are required to have an
Anti-Racism Contact Officer (
[37] For example, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood
Development has implemented a strategy for Education for Global and
Multicultural Citizenship (2009). At
[38] Australian Bureau of
Statistics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (Indigenous)
(2012) Cat No. 2002.0. At:[39] Australian Social Inclusion Board, Social Inclusion in Australia: How
Australia is Faring
(2010) p54. At
[40] Australian Human Rights Commission, In our own words: African Australians: A
review of human rights and social inclusion issues
(2010), p10 and 13.
[41] Australian Bureau of
Statistics, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey,
(30 October 2009). At
[42] Foundation House, Exploring the Barriers and Facilitators to the use of
qualified interpreters in health
(2012), p 6.
[43] T Cross, B Bazron, K
Dennis, M Isaacs, Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care: Vol. I.
[44] National Center for
Cultural Competence, Conceptual Frameworks/Models, Guiding Values and
, (viewed 21 July 2012).
[45] Access and Equity Inquiry Panel, Access and Equity for a multicultural
(2012), p3.
[46] Australian Human Rights Commission, Social Justice Report 2011 (2011),
[47] Attorney-General’s Department, Consolidation of Commonwealth
anti-discrimination laws
, (viewed 29 July 2012).
[48] Australian Human Rights Commission, Consolidation of Commonwealth
Discrimination law: Australian Human Rights Commission Submission to the
Attorney-General’s Department
(2011). At
Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, Recognising
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution
(2012). At
Human Rights Commission, ‘Constitutional recognition is a chance to shape
a better future for us all’ (Media release, 19 January 2012). At:
[51] For example, You me unity is an initiative, supported by a partnership of
organisations, that aims to promote a national conversation about the
constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It
facilitates funding to organisations that are keen to raise awareness and
community support for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people. See Reconciliation Australia, Constitutional
6 August 2012); You me unity website at (viewed 6
August 2012).
[52] Section 20 of
the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).
[53]United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
, preambular paragraph
[54] Race Discrimination
Commissioner, ‘Keep racism out of EMA debate’ (Media Release, 31 May
2012). At
[55] Australian Council of Trade Unions, Temporary Overseas Workers, (viewed 6 August 2012).
[56] Eureka research, The anti-racism campaign: Qualitative market research to
guide campaign development
, Volume 1 - Findings and implications, Research
report prepared for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
(1998) p10. At
[57] Eureka research, The anti-racism campaign: Qualitative market research to
guide campaign development
[58] Australian Human Rights
Commission, National Anti-Racism Strategy (2012).
[59] Australian Human Rights
Commission, National Anti-Racism Strategy consultation report (2012).
[60] J Nelson, K Dunn, Y
Paradies, A Pedersen, S Sharpe, M Hynes, & B Guerin, Review of bystander
approaches in support of preventing race-based discrimination
(2010). At
[61] Australian Human Rights Commission, Annual Report 2010-11 (2011). At
[63] Australian Human Rights
Commission, Cyber-racism fact sheet, (viewed 17 August 2012)
[64] See for example, the submission by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to
the National Anti-Racism Strategy: ‘Expressions of hatred and vilification
of members of identified communities which are identified by race and which are
based on negative stereotypes of the characteristics shared by members of those
communities, amount to more than offence, more than “only words” and
more than hurt feelings. It is conduct which has the effect of generating not
just ill-feeling against members of a particular group but also a sense that
vilification is socially acceptable, and of impliedly justifying acts of
violence or discrimination against them....Racial vilification is particularly
harmful because it contributes to a climate of hatred and violence towards
marginalised or disempowered sectors of the community. Vilification of entire
groups of people is harmful to members of those groups because it undermines,
and can ultimately destroy, the sense of safety and security with which they go
about their daily lives. ‘ At: (viewed 17 August 2012)
[65] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Racist Violence: Report of
National Inquiry into Racist Violence in Australia
[66] Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Concluding observations of the
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Australia
[67] Australia’s reservation reads: ‘The Government of Australia ...
declares that Australia is not at present in a position specifically to treat as
offences all the matters covered by article 4 (a) of the Convention. Acts of the
kind there mentioned are punishable only to the extent provided by the existing
criminal law dealing with such matters as the maintenance of public order,
public mischief, assault, riot, criminal libel, conspiracy and attempts. It is
the intention of the Australian Government, at the first suitable moment, to
seek from Parliament legislation specifically implementing the terms of article
4 (a)’. At
[68] G Mason, Hate Crime Laws In Australia: Are They Achieving Their Goals? Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10/46 (2010), p4. At
[69] Australian Institute of Criminology, Crimes against international students in
Australia: 2005–09
, (2011) xii. At
[70] See for example the comments of Harper J in sentencing John Caratozzolo who was
convicted of the murder of a Chinese doctor, Dr Zhongjun Cao: “Where the
victim of an offence has been intentionally selected by an offender partly or
entirely because of the offender’s prejudice towards the victim based on
the victim’s identity, the harm caused is serious, significant and far
reaching. The individual who is victimised will almost certainly suffer a severe
diminution in his or her feelings of self-worth. All members of the target group
will feel more vulnerable and correspondingly less secure. Other minority groups
are also likely to feel increasingly exposed. Yet no-one can lead a satisfactory
or satisfying life unless they can take their security more or less for granted.
Perhaps most serious of all, in a multicultural society like Australia, which
celebrates diversity and encourages all groups to live together in harmony and
equality, crime based upon racism is a negation of Australia’s fundamental
values.” DPP v Caratozzolo [2009] VSC 305 (29 July
[71] United Nations Human
Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review:
A/HRC/17/10/Add.1(31 May 2011), para 4. At (viewed 6 August 2012).
[73] Only 0.5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander federal government employees
worked in the SES band in 2011. Australian Public Service Commission, State
of the Service 2010-11
[74] The Diversity Council
of Australia survey found that 14% of senior executives were born in non-English
speaking countries. Diversity Council of Australia, How well are Australian
organisations ‘capitalising on culture’ in the senior ranks?
(2011). At
[75] Diversity Council of Australia, How well are Australian organisations
‘capitalising on culture’ in the senior ranks?
[76] Department of Prime
Minister and Cabinet, National Cultural Policy: discussion paper, (2011),
p13. At
[77] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Convention
on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
(2005). At
[78] G Wilkins, ‘Star hits out at Home and Away racism’, The Sydney
Morning Herald
(16 February 2012). At
[79] Australian Human Rights Commission, National Anti-Racism Strategy
consultation report
[80] D Welch,
‘Jones rapped for pre-riot 'scum' remarks’, The Sydney Morning
(10 April 2007). At
[81] M Bodey, ‘Andrew Bolt
loses racial vilification court case’, The Australian (28 September
2011). At
[82] Australian
Communications and Media Authority, ‘ACMA finds that Melbourne licensees
of Ten, Nine and Seven breached the TV code’ (Media release, 30
November 2009). At (viewed 12 August 2012).