Victoria ups the ante against racism

June 3, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Victoria’s Sentencing Act is to be amended to require judges to take into account racial hatred or prejudice against a particular group when sentencing.

Attorney-General Bob Hulls

Attorney-General Bob Hulls

The State’s Attorney-General Rob Hulls told media that the Sentencing Advisory Council is currently working on the best way to amend the Act and is expected to file its report next month. Hulls said: “I would expect legislation to be passed by the end of the year bringing Victoria into line with the approach taken by New South Wales.”

The Victorian Government is also seeking advice as to whether the State’s legislation should incorporate hate crime offences.

Hulls added: “The Brumby Government believes all Victorians are entitled to feel safe in their community. We are looking at reforms that will send a clear message that attacks on any Victorian based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation will not be tolerated.”

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the State Zionist Council have been consulted on the new moves together with Menachem Vorcheimer, a victim of a vicious anti-Semitic attack by a group of footballers.

Citing the State’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, A-G Hulls said it had been enacted to prohibit vilification but it requires someone to incite hatred and the offence had not been widely prosecuted.

President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria John Searle told J-Wire he was delighted with the announcement. Searle has been working closely with the Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, John Merlino. He said: “We welome the Government’s announcement. It is an excellent first step and we will continue to work with the Government to see this process reach fruition.”

Zionist Council of Victoria Presidnet, Dr Danny Lamm, was also involved in the process. He said: “As well as fine-tuning the legislation, there is a need for religious leadership across the board to issue strong statements condemning hate incidents. The Jewish community empathises with those who have been victims of recent incidents. There is no doubt that signage displayed at anti-Israel demonstrations in Melbourne earlier this year were not only anti-Semitic but highly incitory.”

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