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Racial and religious vilification

Victoria’s rich cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths as a state. Everyone should feel safe and welcome. Unfortunately, some people think it’s OK to treat others badly because of their race or religion. It’s not.


No one should be treated unfairly because of where they come from, how they look or the language they speak.

A young African Australian woman smiles at the camera

What is vilification?

Victoria has a law to protect you from vilification because of your race or your religion.

The legal definition is behaviour that “incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule” for a person or group of people, because of their race or religion.

The law about vilification is the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.

How does the law protect me?

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act makes it against the law to vilify a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

The Commission can help resolve complaints of vilification.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act does not apply to private behaviour.

Some public behaviour may not be seen as vilification if it is reasonable and done in good faith. This includes

  • art or a performance
  • a statement, published work, discussion or debate in the public interest
  • a fair and accurate report in the media.

What can I do if I’m vilified because of my race or religion?

You can make a complaint

Get help from us.

You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:

If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you. Find out how we help people resolve complaints.

We can also give you information about your rights.

It is also against the law to victimise a person, which means treat them badly or unfairly, because they have made a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or vilification, or have helped someone else to make a complaint.

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First Nations rights

It is against the law to treat you unfairly or bully you because you are First Nations.

Racism resources for multicultural and multifaith audiences

We have information and resources to help you learn more about your rights relating to racism and discrimination.

Our services for First Nations people

This page includes information on how we can support you in speaking up, stories from other First Nations people and other services available.

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries

1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.