Summary publication

Introduction

The year 2015 marks the 40th anniversary year of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). It has been an important opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved in race relations since the Act’s inception, and on what remains to be achieved.

This publication brings together a selection of papers presented at a conference held on 19 and 20 February 2015 to mark the occasion. The conference brought together leading scholars and experts in human rights, public law and multiculturalism – with more than 100 people attending sessions on each of the two days. Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove also delivered a special address to the conference.

The papers in this publication reflect the major themes explored in February: the Act’s history and impact, the question of racial vilification and free speech, emergent challenges concerning cyber racism, the relationship between race and religion, systemic outcomes and the law, and the Act’s ability to protect Indigenous Australians against racial discrimination.

I thank staff at the Commission who worked in organising the conference and in collating these papers: Katie Ellinson, Ting Lim, Stephanie Fowler, Lucian Tan, Kristian Barron, Rivkah Nissim and Anna Nelson.

Most of all, I hope this publication will be a valuable contribution to public understanding of the Racial Discrimination Act and its vital role in countering racial prejudice and discrimination.

Dr Tim Soutphommasane
Race Discrimination Commissioner

August 2015