The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) welcomes the paper released this week jointly by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and their Victorian counterpart (VEOHRC), Freedom of Religion in Australia: A Focus on Serious Harms.
We strongly support the recommendation for quantitative research on the nature and prevalence of serious harms on the basis of religion.
Minority faith communities are experiencing tremendous pressure in the form of discrimination, public acts of hatred, online harassment and endangerment, as well as specific targeting by growing white supremacist movements.
However, as the Commissioners have pointed out, national data on the prevalence of these serious harms is missing – making it very hard for institutions to act.
We support this research being conducted collaboratively with existing community data collection mechanisms.
At the national level in the Australian Muslim community, the Islamophobia Register Australia (IRA) has been at the forefront for several years, providing a vehicle for empirical analysis by Charles Sturt University.
IRA has called for data-collecting communities to be better resourced, and the facilitation of a cross-community alliance that can deliver nationally consistent data.
The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has also called for data coordination between anti-discrimination authorities, police, the IRA and itself to provide a complete picture of Islamophobic hate incidents in their state.
Through the Australian Hate Crime Network, AMAN has found engagement between Muslim, Jewish and a range of other targeted communities, alongside researchers, policy and policymakers to be very beneficial.
We also support the recommendation with regard to considering best practice reporting mechanisms, especially those in the UK, Europe, the US and Canada.
We support the recommendation regarding targeted education programs for groups such as police, security services, school students and the media.
We commend the AHRC and VEOHRC for their leadership in making this proposal to the Australian and Victorian Governments and look forward to offering our assistance to towards creating nationally consistent and reliable prevalence data.