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Leah is booed and hears racist comments while playing netball

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The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real complaints received by the Commission, but all names and other identifying details have been changed. The photo above is a stock photo, posed by a model.

‘I love playing netball but as soon as I realised the boos and comments only happened when I had the ball, I just didn’t want to play anymore.’

Leah is Aboriginal and plays netball in an under 15 competition.

During the game last weekend, the team manager from the opposition side made racist comments and booed Leah when she touched the ball. No other player was subjected to this treatment.

As the game progressed, supporters from the opposition acted in the same way as the team manager which made Leah feel unsafe and she left the stadium. Leah feels she is unable to play netball again.

How does the law apply to Leah’s situation?

When participating in sports, under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, it is against the law for someone to treat you unfairly or bully you because of your race.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act protects you from vilification based on your race – which means which means behaviour that “incites hate, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule.”

Sports clubs and organisations have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination as far as possible.

Leah could make a complaint of race discrimination and/or racial vilification against the opposition club and team manager or the netball association because umpires failed to take appropriate action.

What outcomes are available?

If Leah decides to make a complaint to the Commission, she could ask for outcomes that are important to her and her community. These could include:

  • telling her story and being heard
  • an acknowledgement of her experience
  • an apology made to her or within the community
  • a promise to change or stop the behaviour
  • financial compensation
  • cultural awareness training for the netball club, team manager and netball association
  • new or updated equal opportunity policies at the netball club and netball association
  • the netball club talking publicly (e.g., on social media) about their commitment to ensuring their clubs are free from discrimination.

Are you in a similar situation?

You can start by contacting us with your enquiry or complaint – we will then take you through your rights and options.

We can listen to your story and provide you with information about your rights under our laws.

We have staff specifically trained to support First Nations peoples make enquiries and complaints.

When you contact us, we will ask if you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander so that we can provide you with an inclusive and culturally appropriate service.

You can also choose to speak directly to a First Nations staff member if one is available.

This is our tailored approach for First Nations peoples.

You can contact us by

Phone

Call 1300 292 153 – weekdays from 9 am–4 pm.

Email

Send us an email at complaints@veohrc.vic.gov.au with your issue and whether you would like to speak with a First Nations staff member.

Online chat

Talk with us through our live online chat. Available weekdays from 10 am–4 pm.

Online complaint form

Send us your complaint through our online complaint form.

Letter

Send us a letter to our address: Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053

Read more about

Tailored services for First Nations peoples

The complaints process, support, and services for First Nations peoples.

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Address
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries
enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Reception
1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

Interpreters
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 acknowledge 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.