Racial Discrimination Act
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA) was Australia’s first anti-discrimination law. The RDA gives effect to Australia’s international human rights commitments and promotes equality between people of different backgrounds. The Act protects people across Australia from unfair treatment on the basis of their race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin in different areas of public life. It also makes racial vilification against the law.
Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures, as well as people who identify with more than 270 ancestries. This rich, cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths as a nation. Despite this, many individuals experience unfair treatment and racism because of how they look or where they come from. Racial discrimination can also be subtle, creating systemic barriers that lock people out of social and economic opportunities.
Racial discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status. It is also racial discrimination when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) was a landmark in Australian race relations. It was a legislative expression of a new commitment to multiculturalism and it reflected the ratification by Australia of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.