What’s happening in Australia’s hate crime debate
By Simon Bancroft Australia’s national hate crime statistics show a spike in hate crimes in recent years, with many of the perpetrators believed to be Asian.
What’s behind it?
The National Crime Prevention and Crime Prevention Agency has launched a new hate crime awareness and response campaign, calling on people to speak out against racist incidents and report them to police.
The campaign will be available to the public online starting Monday, but will be rolled out in the local community on Monday.
The new campaign is based on a study of hate crime incidents reported to police in the last three months.
While the number of hate crimes reported to the police decreased by 6 per cent in 2016, the number reported to their local police force increased by 40 per cent.
The NCCPA study also found that incidents of racism increased in 2016 in all major metropolitan areas in Australia, with Brisbane and Melbourne both experiencing the largest increase in incidents of hate violence.
Hate crime in the ACT is on the rise, and is one of the reasons the police are calling for the Federal Government to act.
The ACT government said in a statement that the report showed “racism and hate crime is on a significant rise in our state and country”.
“We cannot and will not stand by and let these attacks and crimes continue to thrive,” ACT Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“This report shows that our state, and our country, is being targeted, and we have the tools and tools to make sure that we tackle hate crime in a way that protects our community and respects the dignity of all Australians.”
“We must do more to prevent these crimes and we must do so together.”
Hate crimes are defined as crimes that are motivated by prejudice, hostility, or intimidation based on race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic.
They are not necessarily motivated by hate speech, or by hate-motivated acts.
The NSW Police Service says hate crime figures are “unusually high” and it is important to highlight the growing level of hate.
“We have witnessed a significant increase in recent months in hate crime, including assaults, verbal attacks, and other forms of verbal and physical abuse,” NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said.
The national report, released last year, found that while the number and severity of hate-related offences increased in the first half of this year, the increase was greatest in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Sydney metropolitan area recorded a rise in incidents, with the most serious incidents recorded in the outer suburbs, and in some other areas, such as Parramatta and Bondi Beach.
“The increase in hate-based violence in Sydney is worrying and has been highlighted in recent weeks,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
She said hate crime was a “national problem”.
“In my time as premier I have consistently made it a priority to tackle hate crimes and I will continue to do so,” she said.
Mr Andrews said it was important that people were aware of the growing problem.
“There are many Australians who are victims of hate,” he said.
He said that he wanted to hear from anyone who had experienced a crime that involved racism, xenophobia, or misogyny, or had experienced harassment in their neighbourhood.
Mr Scipio said it would be a shame if more people did not speak out.
“When you speak up about this problem, you are being silenced,” he told ABC Radio.
“I hope you will speak up because it’s important that we all are.”