Report Racism, Australia's first ever third-party reporting mechanism for the Aboriginal community, was launched by the Commission in partnership with Victoria Police and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has recently completed research into the experiences of Koori women and the justice system. This project is one of the Commission's key responsibilities under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement 3.

The Commission worked with four focus groups composed of Koori female prisoners at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. The Commission also conducted five case study interviews with female prisoners and with Koori women who had left prison. In addition, 15 key informant interviews with people across the justice system, community service organisations, Magistrates and academics were undertaken.

The research also found that in 2012, 80 per cent of Koori women entering Victorian prisons were mothers. A high proportion of Koori women prisoners were themselves clients of child protection services as children. Many now have their children in informal or formal out-of-home care.

The report entitled Unfinished business: Koori women and the justice system is now available.

You can download the reports below or view online as a PDF.

Read the report: (PDF) | (DOC)
Read the main findings summary: (PDF) | (DOC)


The recently evaluated Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 2 (AJA2), identified that the development of effective diversionary options for Koori women remains one of the main unfinished tasks and was a priority recommendation. There has also been considerable advocacy and research on this issue.

Studies have shown that imprisoning Koori women on remand and during pre-sentence periods can have crippling, long-term effects on their families and the broader community, particularly when less than 15% of Koori women on remand ultimately receive custodial sentences.

These women are generally young and often impacted by violence and trauma. Their offences are predominantly property related, infringements and the execution of warrants.

Research reveals high rates of psychological affective disorders (depression, anxiety), and post traumatic stress disorder among Koori women in prison. These findings come from interim results from the Victorian Aboriginal Community Control Health Organisation (VACCHO)

What we found

While at any one time around 30 Koori women will be in Victorian prisons, many cycle through the system multiple times, often on short sentences, or on remand and then not sentenced. Koori female prisoners are generally young, and many have experienced family violence, sexual abuse and intergenerational trauma. Homelessness before and after prison is common.

Offending and imprisonment patterns for Koori women differ from those of Koori men. They also differ from those of other women, noting that Koori women's health and wellbeing depends on a strong connection to culture. Thus, connection to culture is a crucial protective factor and must lie at the heart of any intervention.
While a range of successful initiatives have been established in Victoria for Koori men and other groups, there remains a lack of effective diversion options for Koori women.

Next steps

The report makes 29 recommendations to agencies across government, including Victoria Police, Magistrates' Court, Corrections Victoria, Justice Health, Department of Justice, Department of Human Services, the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the Victorian Auditor-General.

The recommendations address over-representation of Koori women across the criminal justice system, as well as specific recommendations regarding the establishment of a culturally and gender appropriate model of diversion. The report also identifies principles of effective intervention to guide the further development of prevention, diversion and post-release programs.

The Commission looks forward to progressing these recommendations through the Aboriginal Justice Forum over the coming months.

More information

For more information about this project please contact the project team on 9032 3405 or email

Melbourne has a reputation as a city that welcomes cultural diversity. When patrons of certain racial backgrounds are refused entry into nightclubs, pubs and bars it is offensive and distressing to the individuals concerned. It also damages the reputation of the entertainment and hospitality industries.

Thursday, 08 November 2012 14:31

Local Government Human Rights

Charter Report 2012 – local government input

Every year the Commission produces a report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Charter reports are available to download.

Local Government Human Rights Forums 2012

To help support councils in their important work with human rights, the Commission hosted a series of local government human rights forums in November and December 2012 in Melbourne, Wangaratta, Ararat and Mildura. The forums aimed to develop skills to put human rights into practice in governance and service delivery roles.

The development of the forums was greatly assisted by an Advisory Group with representatives from a range of councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria, and the Victorian Local Governance Association. Information and case studies coming out of the forums will be available in the Local Government section of this website. Please let us know if you have anything to add or would like to see as part of this resource.

Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:54

Fair go, sport!

Research shows sport is a significant site of homophobic harassment, discrimination and exclusion.

The Australian Government report, The future of sport in Australia, identified the need to understand these issues and create new opportunities for inclusion and participation.

With this in mind, the Australian Sports Commission funded Fair go, sport! in 2010.

This project aimed to:

  1. increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity
  2. promote safe and inclusive environments
  3. develop a flexible model of engagement that can be adapted for other sporting codes and their governing bodies.

The project now has four components:

  1. Fair go, sport! Phase 1: Our original work with Hockey Victoria and Hockey Australia, completed in December 2011, developed a peer mentoring approach to support project advocates.
  2. Fair go, sport! Phase 2: Commenced in June 2012, this Phase worked with four additional state sporting associations (Basketball, Cycling, Football and Skate Victoria / Roller Derby) and consolidated the achievements in Hockey
  3. Fair go, sport! Reservoir High School: In 2012 we applied the FGS model and approaches within the school’s sport, health and physical education programs.
  4. Fair go, sport! Schools: Commencing in 2013/14, Whittlesea Secondary College, Castlemaine Secondary College and Keilor Downs College have been implementing the project and developing strategies for inclusion in school sport.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 12:58

Reporting racism

In 2013 the Commission released Reporting Racism: What you say matters. In partnership with the report’s reference group we committed to eight key actions to build the capacity of the Victorian community to respond to racism.

We have been working hard to implement the report's recommendations through these key initiatives:

  • Aboriginal Identity Project – we committed to developing an online resource to educate and raise awareness around the diversity of Aboriginal identity and culture in Victoria.
  • Third Party Reporting – we committed to developing a Third Party Reporting system in partnership with Victoria Police and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Read more about why reducing racial discrimination is a key priority for the Commission.

Reporting racism report

Racism takes many different forms, ranging from discriminatory treatment, property damage or offensive materials to abusive language and even violence. Racism reduces people to stereotypes and reinforces social prejudice and inequality – this behaviour can also be against the law. 

Reporting racism: what you say matters, completes the first stage of a multi-tiered project to raise awareness of racism in the community and to build capacity for victims and bystanders to report racism and vilification when they experience it.

The report sets out eight key actions the Commission will undertake in partnership with other agencies to respond to the issues raised. These range from working with community groups to deliver targeted community information sessions about rights; supporting bystanders on public transport who observe instances of racist behaviour, and partnering with schools, youth groups, sporting organisations, local governments, employers and other agencies to promote and implement the Anti-Hate campaign messages (see below for more information about this campaign) into existing programs and curriculum.

Read the report: (PDF, 1.34MB)  |  (DOC, 738KB)

Read the main findings summary: (PDF, 207KB)  |  (DOC, 95KB)


About the project

The Reporting Racism project seeks to understand the type of experiences people have, and the extent and nature of material that people see, experience, hear, are sent or simply come across in their daily lives that is racist or vilifying. This might include flyers and stickers, graffiti, websites, blog material, verbal abuse or other treatment that people experience as racism or vilification because of their race or religion.

In 2012 the Commission ran an on-line survey. 227 people took part. As well as providing evidence of racism and vilification the survey helped us to identify actions and solutions that we can all take to help address racism and vilification.

In addition, we completed key informant interviews with peak and community organisations in Victoria to understand both the prevalence and severity of racist conduct within their communities.

The Commission also reviewed and collected incidents of racial and religious hate speech online and in the media, including in social media sites. The report of that research was released on 27 May 2013.

Read the report: (PDF, 1.34MB)  |  (DOC, 738KB)

Read the main findings summary: (PDF, 207KB)  |  (DOC, 95KB)

Next steps

Through the Reporting racism: what you say matters survey we have heard directly from Victorians about their experiences of racism and vilification. With the report now released, the Commission will undertake eight key actions to respond to the issues raised. These actions are to:

  1. Collaborate with Victoria Police and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service to trial a third party reporting system, using the Commission's anti-hate website as the access point. Following this initial trial, we intend to extend the program to other communities.
  2. Extend the Commission's Anti-Hate campaign to include a phone app, in addition to the existing website.
  3. Work with key agencies, including Public Transport Victoria and transport providers to support bystanders using Anti-Hate as a vehicle for bystander action.
  4. Partner with schools, youth groups, sporting organisations, local governments, employers and other agencies to promote and implement the Anti-Hate campaign messages into existing programs and curriculum.
  5. Work with government agencies (such as VicHealth) to incorporate information on promoting bystander action into existing training packages.
  6. Develop an online resource to build a richer community understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal identity, culture and history in Victoria, and in so doing break down stereotypes and misinformation.
  7. Work with community groups to deliver targeted community information sessions about rights, available avenues for redress, where and to whom to report, the potential benefits of reporting and the possible outcomes.
  8. Use the evidence from the Commission's Healthy Workplaces project (funded by VicHealth) to develop new strategies to address discrimination in the workplace.

Project reference group

The Commission gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the project reference group.

The reference group is chaired by Commission Board Chair, John Searle, and includes:

  • African Think Tank
  • Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights
  • Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria
  • Federation of Indian Associations Victoria
  • Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Jewish Community Council of Victoria
  • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
  • Victorian Multicultural Commission
  • Victoria Police.

The terms of reference for the group include:

  • assisting the Commission with the development of research methodology including third party reporting processes
  • providing feedback on the draft report and recommendations
  • considering the effectiveness of third party reporting.


Read more about discrimination and racial and religious vilification under the Equal Opportunity Act and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.


More information

For more information about this project, please call (03) 9032 3422 or email


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