Racial vilification in South Australian law
It is an offence to incite hatred or severe ridicule or contempt of a person or group of persons on the basis of their race by threatening physical harm or harm to property or inciting others to do so (Racial Vilification Act 1996 (SA)). Any such offence should be reported to the police.
It is also a civil wrong to do a public act that incites hatred, severe ridicule or serious contempt of a person or group on the ground of their race [Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA) s 73]. A public act means conduct in a public place or any form of communication with the public (for instance, a radio broadcast). If this happens, any person or group affected can sue for damages of up to $40 000 in total for all persons affected by the one act. It is not, however, unlawful to publish a fair report of actual events or to publish genuine and reasonable academic, artistic or scientific material.
Racial hatred in Commonwealth law
Offensive behaviour based on racial hatred is also prohibited under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). Under s 18C it is unlawful for a person to do an act, other than in private, if the act is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of persons and the act is done because of race, colour, national or ethnic origin. A complaint can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
For complaints relating to discrimination in employment, claims can may made to the Fair Work Commission, see the Employment chapter of the handbook on protected workplace rights: General Protections.
Exemptions to this include: performance, distribution or exhibition of artistic works statements or comments made in public interest discussions and the publication of a fair and accurate report of an event or matter of public interest.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.