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AIJAC welcomes Victorian Government racial vilification announcement

Sep 2, 2021 | AIJAC staff

Victoria's Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes.

(Credit: Jaclyn Symes/Facebook)
Victoria's Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes. (Credit: Jaclyn Symes/Facebook)

The Victorian Government’s announcement of reforms to strengthen anti-racism laws has been welcomed by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

The statement by Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes and Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence, in response to the bipartisan Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections, which reported in March, outlines an array of extensions and refinements of anti-vilification protections.

“We are pleased to see the Victorian Government has accepted recommendations by that inquiry to make it easier for victims of vilification to seek legal redress in both criminal and civil processes. AIJAC is also pleased the Victorian Government has accepted the Inquiry’s recommendation to establish a criminal offence prohibiting the display of Nazi symbols, including the swastika,” Mark Leibler, AIJAC’s National Chairman, said.

“While the statement today does not specify exactly which of the 36 recommendations the Victorian Government has accepted, AIJAC looks forward to consulting with the Government on its progress towards further combating racism and vilification,” Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC’s Executive Director, added.

“2021 has been a year of heightened antisemitism for Australian Jews and the perpetrators of antisemitism in Australia come from the extremes of our community – neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, extreme Islamists, and the far-left, who often use Israel or Zionism as a proxy for Jews,” Dr Rubenstein noted.

“AIJAC is pleased that the Victorian Government’s response seeks to not only improve protections, through mechanisms like the swastika ban, but to also improve opportunities for recourse for those who are abused and attacked,” AIJAC’s Director of International and of Community Affairs, Jeremy Jones said.

“We urge the Victorian Government to consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as a guide to understanding, identifying and formulating appropriate responses to antisemitism,” Mr Jones added.

“The Victorian Department of Education and Training has already adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in its attempt to combat anti-Jewish hate at Victorian schools. Now it is time for the Andrews Government to lead by example and endorse the IHRA definition of antisemitism as a tool for use by the whole of the Government and by relevant community groups, such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Multicultural Commission”, Mr Jones argued.

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