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LIV Human Rights Committee Calls for Reform to Victoria’s Anti-Vilification Laws

LIV Human Rights Committee Calls for Reform to Victoria’s Anti-Vilification Laws

By Legal Policy

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The Human Rights Committee at the LIV gives members a platform to contribute to reform of prominent human rights issues and also provides a forum for discussion in developing areas of law. The Committee recently gave multiple written and oral submissions to the Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into Anti-Vilification protections.

The Human Rights Committee (‘the Committee’) sits within the LIV’s Administrative Law and Human Rights Section and comprises of practitioners who work on both federal and state human rights legal issues. The Committee contains representatives from many human rights organisations such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (‘VEOHRC’), the Human Rights Law Centre, Liberty Victoria, Victoria Legal Aid, Justice Connect and the Federation of Community Legal Centres. The Committee contributes submissions and comments on pertinent legal issues that not only affects the rule of law but also its effect on the community. This year, the Committee has contributed significantly to the Legislative Assembly’s Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections in Victoria.  

The Committee was concerned about the effectiveness of Victoria’s anti-vilification law due to the many recent reports of vilifying behaviour and also the high legislative threshold needed to establish vilification. The Committee’s initial submission to the inquiry sought holistic reform of anti-vilification law in Victoria, recommending incorporation of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), lowering of the threshold for incitement and expansion of the protected attributes under the act. Through consultation with VEOHRC, the Committee made 13 recommendations to increase anti-vilification protections to protect vulnerable individuals in Victoria.

Following the Committee’s initial submission, the LIV was invited to provide evidence at the parliamentary hearing before the Legislative Assembly’s Legal and Social Issues Committee. The LIV was represented by Jacinta Lewin, the Chair of the Committee, and Bill Swannie, a Committee member, who reiterated the LIV’s position for expanding the attributes that should be protected by these laws and the introduction of an additional harm-based civil provision to further protect individuals from vilification. Read the full transcript here.

The development of the COVID-19 emergency provided the Committee another opportunity to reiterate the LIV’s position to ensure that Victoria’s anti-vilification laws are meaningful and effective. The Committee informed a supplementary submission to the Inquiry which demonstrated how the current laws are ineffective to deal with the recent reports of racial vilification linked to COVID-19. The submission advocates that strong and practical human rights protections are especially important during times of emergency.  

If you would like to learn more, or wish to apply to join to the LIV’s Human Rights Committee or another Committee under the Administrative Law and Human Rights Section, please email alhr@liv.asn.au.

More information about the Committees in the Administrative Law and Human Rights Section is available on the LIV website.


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