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A personal perspective on the repeal of the racial discrimination act

by  Africa Media Australia


 Societies’ Killer… Silence




Just recently I caught up with a few friends over for dinner.  As usual we debriefed with each other about the ‘highs and woes’ in our lives. Which did encompass us chatting about our studies, work, and of course relationships. There is nothing at all interesting about to fair but what was interesting was when our chats progressed into a very heated and controversial discussion about the 2013 Coalition Pre- election commitment to repeal the Racial Discrimination Act.



To give you a brief summary of the background of the changes, were as a response to the ‘influential’ conservative commentator Andrew Bolt who had been charged for breaking the law over two articles in 2009 he wrote about light-skinned Aboriginal people. After that, Bolt stated it was ‘a terrible day for free speech in this country’.  The heart of this discussion was how these changes would not only affect culturally diverse groups but Australia as a whole. There will be changes in Section 18c which currently makes it illegal to publicly ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person or group’.

Basically the amendments completely eliminates all those provisions and instead focuses in acts of ‘vilification’ or/and intimidation.  By narrowing Section 18c, it will not take into account the emotional and mental intimidation that was initially part of the current law. These changes in my opinion will definitely encourage racism and perpetuate racial comments and abuse as a norm here in Australian society. As though the injustice cannot get any deeper, the draft of the amendment included that the person who decides judgement on whether an act is likely to have ‘vilified’ or intimidated someone should be, I quote ‘by the standards of an ordinary reasonable member of the Australian community’. I ask you, can you honestly define what an ‘ordinary reasonable member or the Australian community’ could be?’

It completely baffles and worries me how Australia is actually going backwards! Instead of moving forward and welcoming and harmonious multicultural society which is Australia; the government is allowing racial tensions and fear to enter yet again into Australia’s discourse.  It is obviously clear that the government are not invested or concerned about the impact it will have on the wellbeing of many minority groups in Australia. I encourage all of us to be a part of the political debates and social issues to ensure that our voices are heard!

Natasha Mashakada

AMA contributor 

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