Online Hate Prevention Institute welcomes Victorian Government’s response to the anti-vilification inquiry but sounds a warning

September 8, 2021 by J-Wire News Service
Read on for article

The Online Hate Prevention Institute has welcomed the Victorian Government’s response to the Inquiry into anti-vilification protections but warned that the critical issue of online hate, which is fuelling much of the vilification the inquiry investigated, may not be receiving the urgent attention it needs.

Andre Oboler

The Online Hate Prevention Institute, a national harm prevention charity that is largely based in Victoria, presented two written submissions as well as in-person testimony to the inquiry. The inquiry recommended that the government work with the Online Hate Prevention Institute, the eSafety Commissioner, and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, to develop a strategy to reduce and prevent vilification online.

The Victorian Government adopted the recommendation to work with the Online Hate Prevention Institute in principle, but states in its response that “any strategy with the aim of mitigating or preventing online vilification should be coordinated at a national level with the Commonwealth and other states and territories”.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute told J-Wire it looks forward to working with the Government to develop a strategy to combat online hate, but that Victoria needs its own strategy, and it needs greater Victorian Government engagement. Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute explained, “Victoria will have a much wider scope of vilification protection than Commonwealth. This means that only a Victorian specific strategy will see all these additional segments of the community protected online.”

Dr Oboler added, “The Inquiry specifically called for a strategy that will facilitate data collection and publication, areas where the Online Hate Prevention Institute, with the assistance of our propriety Fight Against Hate software tool, have been world leaders. There is a lot that can be done in Victoria, indeed a lot that is already happening. The Victorian Government can accelerate this with its own engagement.”

The new Anti-Racism Taskforce was welcomed by the Online Hate Prevention Institute. They acknowledged the government’s response that funding to tackle online vilification would “require considerable government investment above existing levels” and therefore require consideration in the setting of the state budget. At the same time, they called for long term action not to prevent urgent action on online hate – particularly the data gathering that is essential to inform longer-term strategies.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute has been here before. In 2015 the Government formed a group to advise on strategies to improve social cohesion and community resilience, both being severely damaged by online vilification. The Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs at that time, Inga Peulich, said in Parliament, “While this advisory group may inform government decisions, there are lots of opportunities to make a difference in the short term. One of those is the work that is being undertaken by the Online Hate Prevention Institute… The minister would be well advised to spend some of that money in the short term to make a difference.”

The Online Hate Prevention Institute is hopeful that this time, with recommendation of the Inquiry and its adoption by the Government, there may be better coordination. Dr Oboler told J-Wire, “The longer we kick this can of online vilification down the road, the worse the problem becomes. The Online Hate Prevention Institute is doing what we can at the national level, the engagement and support of the Victorian Government would certainly help. We need someone in the Victorian Government to take specific responsibility for online vilification. The collaboration to form a Victorian strategy to tackle online vilification is a great place start. This work needs to start now.”

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.