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Posted in News on 31 March, 2014

Media Release-The Government's proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act threaten social inclusion and cohesion for
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 
The Government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act threaten social inclusion and cohesion for all Australians 
Arab Council Australia is all inclusive, independent and non party political with the specific aim of assisting the successful social inclusion of people from Arab backgrounds and promoting their active participation in and contribution to the wider community. It is located in Sydney, where most Arab Australians live, but works on behalf of all Arab Australians. 
“We view with deep concern the Government’s draft legislation to repeal sections 18C and D of the Racial Discrimination Act and to insert other, quite different and much weaker provisions,” said Ms Randa Kattan, CEO of Arab Council Australia. 
“The Government has invited further comment on the draft legislation which appears to us to be deeply flawed and we will contribute to that further process. 
“We regret to observe however that very detailed representations and good faith warnings that we and other ethnic communities have already communicated to the Attorney-General, over a considerable period, appear not to have caused him to reconsider. 
“We are particularly distressed that, despite our representation and the extensive research literature about the harmful effects that public expressions of racial bigotry have on vulnerable people, and the adverse consequences that has, not only for the victims, but for social inclusion, productivity and harmony of society as a whole, the Attorney has said in Parliament that the public expression of racial bigotry ought to be legally acceptable in modern Australian society. 
“Despite the protections we have under the current legislation, our community continues to be the target of racism and racial attacks. We know all too well the impact that bigotry and prejudice has on people of our community. We know all too well what it is like to be offended, insulted and humiliated because of our ethnicity. We are horrified that vulnerable people will be further disenfranchised if the proposed changes were to be adopted. 
“We urge all Australians of goodwill who disagree with the Attorney in that regard to make their views known to their Members of Parliament. We urge politicians of all parties to maintain the existing legal prohibitions on public expressions of racial bigotry, provisions that have contributed to social cohesion in our society for decades.” Ms Kattan concluded.