‘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
Call 1300 292 153 – weekdays from 10am–2pm.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your issue and whether you would like to speak with a First Nations staff member.
Online complaint form
Send us your complaint through our online complaint form.
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
Our services for First Nations people
If you (or someone you know) have experienced discrimination, harassment or racial vilification, you have the right to speak up and be heard.
First Nations peoples rights
First Nations people have cultural rights under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
Race discrimination and vilification
The law protects your right to be treated equally, no matter where you are from or the colour of your skin.