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What is vilification?

Every person has the right to feel safe at work, or at school or university, or when going about their daily lives, regardless of their race, religion, sexuality or gender identity.

Vilification is the spreading of hatred publicly against someone, or a group of people, based on one of these attributes.

That hatred can be spread publicly in a number of ways, including by verbal abuse, or in writing, or displayed on signage, or posted on the internet and social media.

Vilification is against the law, and in some cases it can also be a criminal offence.

If you believe that you have been the victim of vilification, it is important that you seek urgent legal advice.

Definition of vilification

Vilification is inciting hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person, or group of persons, because of their race, religion, sexuality, or gender identity, by a public act.

Other definitions

Race can include a person’s colour, ethnicity or nationality, descent or ancestry.

Religion includes a belief system or the absence of a belief system.

Sexuality means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality.

Gender identity means that a person identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living or seeking to live as a member of that sex, or is of indeterminate sex and seeks to live a member of a particular sex.

A public act is any form of communication to the public, such as speaking, writing, printing, displaying notices and messages on the internet and social media.

It also includes conduct observable by the public, including actions, gestures, wearing or display of clothing, signs, flags, emblems or insignia.

Incite means to urge on, stimulate or prompt action.

Hatred is an extreme or intense dislike or detestation.

Contempt is the attitude that someone is worthless or of little account, that involves looking down upon or treating that person as inferior.

Ridicule is to make fun of, deride or laugh at.

Serious vilification

Serious vilification includes a threat of physical harm to a person or their property, or inciting others to threaten physical harm to a person or their property.

It is a criminal offence, and is dealt with by the police.

A person convicted of serious vilification faces up to 6 months in prison or fines of up to $8,830 – and companies up to $44,152.

How We Can Help

If you have experienced vilification, our team of employment lawyers and industrial advocates at Discrimination Claims can help.

We can represent you in the Human Rights Commission, the Fair Work Commission, the Industrial Relations Commission, or any other relevant court or tribunal.

We are specialists at negotiating significant sums of compensation for those who have been subjected to vilification.

Make no mistake, we will fight for you until we achieve the outcome that you are looking for.

Look after yourself

Vilification can affect people in different ways.

It is very important to look after your health and safety and your well being.

If someone is making physical threats against you or your property, contact the police immediately by calling Triple 0.

If you are feeling anxious or depressed, make sure that you talk to someone.

Speak to a friend or you can make an appointment to see your doctor.

Lifeline  13 11 14

1800RESPECT  1800 737 732

QLife  1800 184 527

Beyond Blue  1300 223 636

MensLine Australia  1300 789 978

Kids Helpline  1800 551 800

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LAST UPDATED: January 2023

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