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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 discrimination.[9]

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 system.[12]

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 system.[13]

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 others.[14]

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 population.[18]

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 economy.[19]

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 different.[20]

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 shared.[21]

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 program.[22]

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 decline.[24]

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 image.[25]

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 programs.[26]

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 investment.[27]

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 Commission.

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 race.

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 qualifications

(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 channels.[34]

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 schools.

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

(e) 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 cent.[39]

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 employment.[40]

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 cities.[41]

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 services.[42]

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

(f) Improving cultural competence for appropriate and quality service provision

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 situations”.[43]

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 cultures.[44]

Cultural competency is a concept that is generally not well understood – let alone consistently applied – by service providers.[45]

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 communities.[46]

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 Discrimination 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 effective.[48]

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 attributes.

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

(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 Government.

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 discrimination.

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 recommendations.[50]

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 peoples

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

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 such.[53]

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 workers

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 instances.[54]

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 inequality.

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

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 violence.[57]

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 engagement.

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 inequality.[58]

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 work.[59]

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 bullying.[60]

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 approaches.

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 future.[63]

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 country.[68]

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 level.[69]

The 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 violence

3.4 Leadership in support of Australia’s diverse communities

Promoting 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 follow.[72]

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 ceiling.

(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 community.[76]

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 communities.[77]

We are increasingly hearing calls for people from different racial backgrounds to be visibly represented in the entertainment industry, in recruitment, casting and programming activities.[78]

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 (2009).
[9] M Ruteere, Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (2012) UN Doc. HRC/20/33
[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 (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 Measures. 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 (2011).
[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 disadvantage (2008), vi. At
[20]Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4705.0 - Population Distribution, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006.At
[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 the
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 Curriculum. 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 Arrivals (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) Profile (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, 2008 (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. (1989).
[44] National Center for Cultural Competence, Conceptual Frameworks/Models, Guiding Values and Principles, (viewed 21 July 2012).
[45] Access and Equity Inquiry Panel, Access and Equity for a multicultural Australia (2012), p3.
[46] Australian Human Rights Commission, Social Justice Report 2011 (2011), p150.
[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
[49]Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution (2012). At
[50]Australian 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 Recognition, 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 2.
[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 (1998) p11.
[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 (1991)
[66] Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Australia (2010).
[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 2009).
[71] United Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Australia 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 (2011) p168.
[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? (2011).
[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 (2012).
[80] D Welch, ‘Jones rapped for pre-riot 'scum' remarks’, The Sydney Morning Herald (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).