Prejudice or hatred increases the severity of crime.
It is an aggravating factor and can occur as part of any crime. It makes crimes more serious because they impact the broader community as well as the specific victim.
Victoria Police takes prejudice motivated crime very seriously.
Some crimes in our community are motivated by prejudice.
These incidents of violence and hate are not okay.
Targeting you based on how you look, your background, your sexuality, your age, your disability, should never happen, but we know it does, and it will not be tolerated.
Victoria Police takes your safety very seriously and we will investigate.
We know these crimes and incidents have increased but do not always get reported to police.
If you or someone you know have been the victim of a crime, please report it.
If the crime is motivated by prejudice or hate, please tell us.
Because if we don’t know, we can’t do anything about it.
We also want people to feel safe and supported when reporting a crime like this.
We call them prejudice motivated crimes or incidents.
There are many ways you can report a prejudice motivated crime or incident.
You can come into the police station, contact Victoria Police by phone or online, or report it to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
If you have information that can help solve a prejudice motivated crime, you can share this anonymously with Crime Stoppers.
Together we can make Victoria safer for everyone.
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Prejudice motivated crime
A prejudice motivated crime is any crime motivated by bias or hatred towards a person or a group. This crime would be because of the victim’s actual or perceived characteristic/s.
These might be:
- sexual identity
- gender identity
- political activity.
It doesn’t matter if the person has one of these characteristics. What matters is the perpetrator is targeting the victim because they believe the victim belongs to a group, which has one of these characteristics.
Prejudice motivated crimes:
- undermine community harmony
- reduce people’s perception of safety
- make people feel isolated.
Crimes motivated by prejudice can harm:
- the victim
- family and friends
- other vulnerable groups.
Forms of prejudice motivated crime
Any crime may be motivated by prejudice, for example:
- Obscene, threatening, insulting, abusive words and behaviours
- this may involve name calling or threats referencing one of the characteristics above.
- Physical assault and violent behaviours, including:
- assault with weapons
- or threaten to do any of the above.
- Damage to property:
- offensive graffiti
- desecration of graves or places of worship
- vandalism to cars
- smashing windows
- making false complaints
- persistent phone calls
- Hate mail:
- distributing offensive leaflets or posters
- threatening letters or other material delivered either by hand or via the postal system.
- Online targeting:
- hate messages/posts targeting individuals or members of a minority group.
Regardless of what law applies, the most important thing is for the crime to be reported to police.
Example of a prejudice motivated crime
A vehicle is spray-painted with 'kill all Asians’. The graffiti was motivated by prejudice because the perpetrator believed the owner to be Asian.
The crime is property damage. The motivation behind that property damage makes this a prejudice motivated crime.
Prejudice motivated incident
A prejudice motivated incident doesn’t meet the threshold of a crime.
Like prejudice motivated crimes, prejudice motivated incident target the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim. They affect more than the target of the abuse.
Example of a prejudice motivated incident
A taxi driver refuses to take a man because he is Aboriginal. The actions of the driver were motivated by prejudice but were not of a criminal nature.
Racial and religious vilification
Racial or religious vilification is when a person incites:
- revulsion, or
of another person because of the other person's race or religion.
Nazi symbols and gestures
It is a criminal offence to intentionally display or perform Nazi symbols or gestures if:
- you know, or should reasonably know, that the symbol or gesture is supporting Nazi ideology
- the display is in a public place or in public view
- your display does not fall within one of several exceptions in the .
It is also an offence to refuse to follow police direction to remove a Nazi symbol or gesture from public view.
Nazi symbols include the Nazi Hakenkreuz, and other symbols used by the Nazi party.
Nazi gestures include the salute, a common gesture used by the Nazi party. The arm is extended out in front of the body with the hand flat and palm down.
Reporting to police
We know many people do not report prejudice motivated crimes or incidents to police. This makes it difficult for police to investigate and prevent the crimes from recurring.
When there is no immediate danger:
- report property damage motivated by prejudice (including graffiti or vandalism) by:
- contact your , or
- submit an anonymous online report through the , or call .
We will investigate and determine if a crime has been committed.
Police will still take a report of the incident.
Community Liaison Officer support
While Liaison Officers will not actively investigate the matter, they will provide support throughout the reporting process.
Making a civil complaint
Civil complaints of vilification are different from criminal complaints of vilification.
Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
You can contact the AHRC for more information, via:
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)
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Reviewed 01 January 2024