When hate is a crime

A new free online resource helps communities find support and take action against hate crime

There’s a line on the hatecrime.com.au homepage that once seen, can’t be ignored: “We wish this website wasn’t necessary but, unfortunately, bias, hatred and discrimination are still common experiences for some communities in Australia today.”

According to Gail Mason, Professor of Criminology at the University of Sydney, it’s common for victims of bias or discrimination to not comprehend that’s what they experienced or know what to do about it.

“There are communities in NSW targeted by hate crime and hate speech. And we know that members of those communities often don't know where to go to get support. The new website is trying to help solve that problem," Mason said.

It launched in February 2022 and features resources created by a team from the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Australian Hate Crime Network.

It’s designed as a one-stop shop for information about when hate is a crime, where to find support and how to take action.

Experiencing a hate crime

A hate crime is a crime that is motivated by bias or hatred against you because of who you are. Hate crime can occur in public or in private, in person or online.

It can take different forms, such as racism, homophobia, sexism, ageism and ableism, and happen in different ways. It might be an insult from a stranger in a carpark, to bullying by a ‘friend’ online or graffiti at your local shops, to a violent attack.

“We hope that people accessing the Hate Crime website can take away a better understanding of what it is that they've experienced, in the sense of being able to put a name to it and to recognise that it's not acceptable and you don't have to put up with it.

“We give people the information that they need to make informed decisions. We want people to feel empowered – empowered enough to decide whether or not they want to take further action,” Mason said.

Responding to communities' needs

Resources on the site are available in 6 languages including Arabic, Chinese - traditional and simplified - English, Hindi and Vietnamese. There’s also an Easy Read factsheet in English and a community tool kit for education and capacity building.

It’s an ambitious project, designed for those who experience bias or hatred because of race, religion, ethnic/national origin, sexuality, disability, gender identity, sex, age, HIV/AIDS status, intersex status or because they’re homeless.

“It addresses the needs of a number of communities, who we know experience hate and hostility in very different ways, but who still may have common needs when it comes to understanding how to take action against that problem.

“It is the product of significant community input. And we’ve had positive feedback so far that it's hitting the mark.”

The website is currently specific to NSW, with legal resources for residents in the state. The hope is that in the future with additional support it could become a national resource.

The City of Sydney supported the project through a knowledge exchange grant. It complements our vision for an inclusive and socially cohesive city.

Find out more at www.hatecrime.com.au.

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