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Victoria Police has strengthened its commitment to reducing prejudice motivated crime in Victoria by introducing a Prejudice Motivated Crime Strategy.

What is a prejudice motivated crime?

A prejudice motivated crime is a crime motivated by prejudice or hatred towards a person or a group because of a particular characteristic such as sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, race, sex, age, disability or homelessness.

Many crimes can be motivated by prejudice, including harassment, threats, verbal abuse, destroying or damaging property, and in more serious cases, physical violence.

An example of a prejudice motivated crime:

A vehicle parked overnight in the front yard of a property was spray painted with the words, 'kill all blacks'.

In this case, the damage to the property was motivated by prejudice against the owner of the vehicle, because of his/her race. This prejudice motivated crime not only affects the direct victim of the crime, but all people that identify with the victim's race.

Reporting prejudice motivated crime

We know that for a range of reasons, many people do not report prejudice motivated crimes to police. This makes it difficult for police to investigate the crimes and to prevent them from recurring.

If you are a victim of prejudice motivated crime, please contact your local police station. You can also report anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you require additional support to report to police, you can contact one of our many community liaison officers. Please select from the links below.

To speak to a Youth Resource Officer in your area, please contact the Youth Advisory Unit on (03) 9247 5300

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has launched an anti-hate campaign, inviting the public to share their experiences of discrimination.

Further information

Serious racial and religious vilification offences are legislated under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.

Racial and religious vilification

Victoria Police takes racial and religious vilification seriously. Racial and/or religious vilification occurs when a person behaves in a way that encourages hatred, revulsion or ridicule of another person, because of the other person's race or religion.

Serious racial or religious vilification occurs where a person intentionally behaves in a way that encourages hatred, revulsion or ridicule of another person and threatens physical harm to that person or their property, or encourages serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule of that person/class of person, because of their race or religion.

What to do if you are a victim of serious racial or religious vilification involving threats of violence?

Serious vilification may involve threats of violence. This can be both upsetting and frightening. Should you become a victim of serious racial or religious vilification, you should:

  • remain assertive but not aggressive
  • stay calm
  • if the situation escalates, yell to attract attention to yourself
  • create distance between yourself and danger, by running to safety

In an emergency, always phone Triple Zero (000)

Reporting serious racial or religious vilification to police

If you believe serious racial or religious vilification has occurred you are urged to report the matter to your local police. Victoria Police understands that for some people attending a police station can create stress and anxiety. If this applies to you, please contact your local Multicultural Liaison Officer (MLO). While the MLO will not actively investigate the matter, he/she will support you throughout the reporting process. Community groups may also become aware of possible serious religious or racial vilification and can similarly report matters to local police.

About the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001

In recognition of Victoria's cultural and religious diversity, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (the Act) was introduced to promote community acceptance of racial and religious diversity.

While the Act recognises the importance of freedom of expression in an open and multicultural democracy, it also recognises the rights of all citizens to full and equal participation in society. Victoria is a model of cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and whilst the majority of Victorians embrace this diversity, some individuals and groups do suffer vilification on the grounds of their race or religion. Vilification diminishes dignity and sense of self worth and affects the ability of individuals to contribute to society. This reduces the benefits that diversity delivers to the community.

Contained within the Act are the two criminal offences of serious racial vilification and serious religious vilification. Serious racial or religious vilification occurs where:

  • a person, because of the race or religion of another person/class of person, intentionally engages in conduct that the person knows is likely to incite hatred against that other person/class of person and either threatens physical harm, or incites others to threaten physical harm against that person/ class of person, or their property, or
  • a person, because of the race or religion of a person/class of person, intentionally engages in conduct that the person knows is likely to incite serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of, that person/ class of person

Under the terms of the Act, such conduct includes use of the Internet or email to publish or transmit statements or other material.

Lodging a civil complaint

Civil complaints of vilification are different by definition to criminal complaints of vilification. The following organisations can be contacted for information about lodging a civil complaint of vilification.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) can lodge complaints about racial or religious vilification. VEOHRC can be contacted at:

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street,
Carlton, 3053
Phone: 1300 891 848
Email: information@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Australian Human Rights Commission

Civil complaints about racial hatred can also be lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission. You can contact the AHRC for more information, via:

Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001
Complaints Infoline: 1300 656 419
Email: complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au

References

For a copy of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, please visit the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website at www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

For a copy of the Race Discrimination Act 1975, please visit the AHRC website at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/legal/legislation

Contact us

For further information on prejudice motivated crime contact:

Corporate Strategy and Operational Improvement Department
Victoria Police Centre
P.O Box 919
Melbourne 3000
Tel: (03) 9247 6192

Further contacts

Victims Support Agency
The Victim Support Agency (VSA) provides a support service for victims of crime.
The VSA can be contacted on telephone 1800 819 817 or TTY: 86621730.
Information on VSA services can be found at www.justice.vic.gov.au

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)
Complaints about racial and religious vilification under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 can be made to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Information about vilification can be found at Racial and religious vilification at www.humanrights.vic.gov.au 
The Commission can be contacted on:
Phone: 1300 292 153
Interpreters: 1300 152 494
TTY: 1300 289 621
Email: enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Australian Human Rights Commission
Complaints about racial hatred under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Complaints Infoline: 1300 656 419
Email: complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au

Reviewed 18 March 2019

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