Thursday, 31 January 2019 10:50

We cannot tolerate antisemitic attacks against Victoria’s Jewish communities

Against the backdrop of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, news reports of a vile racist attack against a Melbourne rabbi earlier this week are doubly shocking. We, as a community, cannot tolerate antisemitic attacks against Victoria’s Jewish communities.

Racist attacks are unlawful in Victoria – the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities protect individuals from discrimination and vilification, and play an important role in promoting equality for all Victorians.

"We know from working with members of Victoria’s diverse multicultural and multifaith communities that these kinds of racist incidents have very serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals and on the vitality of their communities," says Kristen Hilton, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner.

"Racism silences people and limits their participation in everyday life. It erodes social cohesion and leaves communities feeling isolated and fearful. We offer our full support to Victoria’s Jewish community in the face of such racial abuse." 

In 2017–18, the Commission saw an increase in complaints about race, which rose 88 per cent. It was the third most common attribute in the complaints we received last year. The Commission continues to receive complaints about discrimination on the basis of race.

"The Commission works closely with Victoria’s multicultural and multifaith communities to help them better understand the legal framework for preventing discrimination and where they can seek help if they need it," Commissioner Hilton says.

"Every Victorian deserves to feel safe and welcome in the state they call home, so our complaints service plays an important role in addressing race discrimination when it arises."

The racist attack earlier this week reflects a concerning pattern of antisemitc rhetoric and incidents. On a global scale, we have seen the rise of far-right neo-Nazi groups in the United States and European politics.

Closer to home, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry reported a 60 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents in Australia in 2018*, with almost 30 per cent of these incidents occurring in Victoria. The council notes that under-reporting of such incidents is a persistent problem.

The Commission condemns this racist attack against a member of Victoria’s Jewish community, and we encourage anyone who has experienced racism or vilification to contact us.

Our complaints handling service is free, fair and fast. We support individuals giving permission to a third-party advocate to raise a complaint with the Commission on their behalf, or representative organisations to bring multiple disputes to the Commission at the one time.

Our Enquiry Line and complaints service can help – phone us on 1300 292 153, email enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au, or find more information online.  

 *October 2017 – September 2018.

Read the Executive Council of Australian Jewry's Report on antisemitism in Australia

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