Media must take responsibility for perceptions they help shape

© Australian Human Rights Commission
April 13, 2007

Media, journalists and commentators must continue to take their responsibilities seriously, National Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma asserted today.

Commenting in the wake of the Australian Communication and Media Authority’s (ACMA) decision that comments by Radio 2GB’s Alan Jones just prior to the Cronulla riots breached the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice 2004 by broadcasting material likely to encourage violence or brutality, Mr Calma said the media must bear in mind the influence they have in shaping public perception.

“ACMA’s findings highlight the caution the media must display when engaging in public debate on issues that may lead to racial hatred and community disharmony, as in the case of the Cronulla riots,” Mr Calma said.

“Australia has long recognised the harm done to society when racial hatred is promoted. Inciting racial violence and promoting racial hatred has been unlawful in Australia for many years.”

“At the national level, the Racial Discrimination Act gives redress to those who are subject to racist abuse. In addition, all state governments have passed similar laws,” Mr Calma said.

“These laws reflect Australia’s commitment to providing protection to those that bear the burden of racial hatred.”

Information on the Racial Discrimination Act can be found at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

People concerned that they may have been racially discriminated against can make a complaint to the Commission by contacting the Complaints info line on 1300 656 419 or 02 9284 9888 | Media contact: Louise McDermott 02 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597.