Better laws for a safe Queensland
Just two short years ago and exactly one week before Harmony Day, the world witnessed a major event that demonstrated how religious and racial intolerance, when they fester unchallenged within the broader community, can manifest in acts of barbarism. For all Australians, including Queenslanders, the Christchurch tragedy was far too close to home.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a widely-publicised wave of racially motivated incidents – firstly directed at members of Asian communities, and more recently African communities. The increase in acts of racism, discrimination and vilification prompted the Queensland Government to publicly denounce “racially motivated offences”.
In light of this, and the experiences of many of Queensland’s diverse ethnic and religious communities over many years, the Cohesive Communities Coalition, representing 25 community and service provider organisations, was formed to collaborate with the Queensland Human Rights Commission to advocate for strengthening protections against racial vilification and hate crimes.
In the lead up to the last State election, our Coalition prepared an options paper - Serious vilification and hate crime: The need for legislative reform. This paper was received positively by both of the major political parties, and we publicly welcomed the election commitment from the Deputy Premier to refer our paper to the appropriate Parliamentary Committee for review and consultation. The proposals presented in the paper seek to address a number of problems with Queensland’s existing legislative scheme, including:
- The absence of actual hate crime laws, leading to low reporting, victim vulnerability and compromised data.
- The existing offence of serious vilification not being used to respond to criminal incitement.
- The distribution and display of hateful material (including symbols such as the Nazi flag) not being subject to criminal sanction in Queensland.
Our Coalition believes there is a critical need to strengthen the protections the law offers in order for communities to live safely and harmoniously. This will need to include a more rigorous oversight of the way hate crimes are policed. It will also require trust to be built between our diverse communities and police, and a willingness to report these crimes when they occur. However, law reform is an important first step in this process, and in building a Queensland where everyone feels safe and welcome.
The Cohesive Communities Coalition is eager to work constructively with the State Government and Opposition in ensuring everyone in our state benefits from better laws for a safe Queensland.
For more information about the Coalition campaign, please go to the Better Laws for Safe Queensland website.