Human Rights Commissioner to meet ethnic community leaders over spike in racism


The Human Rights Commission has accepted an invitation to meet with the Deputy leader of the Opposition, Mrs Giulia Jones MLA, and ethnic community leaders to discuss the Commission’s complaints handling process.

Mrs Jones requested the meeting, in a letter dated 14 October 2021, that was endorsed by 11 ethnic community leaders in the ACT after they had met with Mrs Jones and raised concerns about a spike in racist attacks in Canberra during COVID-19.

The community leaders also expressed concerns that many victims of racial abuse were confused about how to report the incidents.

In a letter responding to Mrs Jones on November 11, Ms Karen Toohey, Discrimination, Health Services, Disability & Community Services Commissioner, said:

“It is disappointing that community members have indicated to you it is difficult to navigate the Commissions complaint handling process. I would be very happy to meet with you and community members about the complaint handling process we provide.

In her letter, the Commissioner outlined the Commission’s complaints handling mechanisms in detail, and indicated the Commission was committed to making the reporting process as accessible as possible.

Ms Toohey acknowledged that some people may experience problems with the reporting process “for a range of reasons” and concluded her letter by saying:

“I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issues you have raised and clarify any concerns you or community members have regarding access to the complaint process or ability to raise concerns about experiences of racism in the ACT with the ACT Human Rights Commission.”

Mrs Jones said she was very pleased the Commissioner was keen to meet with ethnic community leaders.

“The Commission has responded exactly how it should,” Mrs Jones said.

“Racism in any form cannot be accepted in a civilised society and we have to take every step we can to help victims of racial abuse understand there is a legal framework in place to support them.

“This is a community problem, not a problem that individuals should have to carry alone,” Mrs Jones concluded.