Commonwealth Racial Hatred Act (1995)

The Racial Hatred Act extends the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) to allow people to complain about offensive or abusive behaviour based on racial hatred. In 1995, the Racial Hatred Act amended the RDA by adding new laws specifically dealing with racial hatred. Unlawful racially offensive behaviour can include public acts based on the race, colour, national or ethnic origins of a person or group which are likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate. Some examples of unlawful offensive behaviour might include:

  • writing racist graffiti in a public place
  • wearing Nazi insignia in a public place
  • making racist speeches at a public rally
  • placing racist posters or stickers in a public place
  • racist abuse in a public place
  • offensive racist comments in a publication

In order to protect freedom of speech, under the Act the following things are not unlawful if “done reasonably and in good faith”:

  • an artistic work or performance
  • an academic publication, discussion or debate
  • a fair and accurate report on a matter of public interest
  • an act that is an expression of a person’s genuine belief.

The aim of the Racial Hatred Act is to ensure that people of all backgrounds can live a dignified and peaceful life free from racial vilification, intimidation and harassment.

For further information refer to the following websites:

State websites:

Theme: Countering racism – education, policy, legislation