The Australian Human Rights Commission released a report on Tuesday 20 July 2021, “Sharing the stories of Australian Muslims” highlighting Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate that is routinely experienced in Australia. 

Read the full report here

The survey of over 1000 Muslims, conducted during 2019-2020, led by Race Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Chin Tan highlights religious discrimination, vilification and hate against Muslims that manifested in the Christchurch attack in March 2019.

Stories, comments and insights shared by Muslim leaders, consultation participants, and National Survey respondents during this project provided a wide-ranging picture of community members’ lived experiences of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate.

“These stories reinforced for me what I have long witnessed, that Australian Muslim communities are active participants in Australian public life, and many are working tirelessly to address misconceptions about Islam in the Australian community,” Mr Tan writes in his message for the report. 

The project survey responses and consultation findings demonstrate that Australian Muslim communities are taking the lead in identifying community solutions to the issues they face.

They are calling on the whole Australian community to support greater awareness and understanding of Islam to help strengthen social cohesion. 

Community responses during the survey draw attention to the broader context of anti-Muslim hate expressed through a rising incidence of online abuse and hate speech directed towards Australian Muslims and in the increased evidence of far-right extremism in Australia. 

In response to these experiences, community members identified the need for the Australian Government and the Australian community to take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination, hatred and Islamophobia.

Strong leadership, public awareness and other educative and legislative protections were seen as necessary with increased focus on social cohesion and building inclusivity as the best ways to address Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate. 

Project participants identified community solutions focused on educating the wider Australian community about Islam and creating inter-faith connections through schools, the media and a wider network of visible allies.

The participants highlighted that this education needs to be supplemented by institutional change through more consistently implemented diversity and inclusion practices and more culturally competent workplace policies and spaces. 

The report calls for a National Anti-Racism Framework that would also demonstrate the Australian Government’s strong stance against racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Muslim hate.

This is crucial, not only to ensure Australian Muslims feel safe, included, and valued within the wider community, but also to support strong relationships between Australian Muslim communities and government agencies and organisations.

The report calls for the implementation of initiatives that increase social cohesion and centre the priorities and expertise of Australian Muslims is vital for the promotion of racial equality and the rights of every Australian to fully engage with and participate in the wider Australian community.

Community solution 
The importance of data: understanding the prevalence and nature of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate  The need for a National Anti- Racism Framework  Reform to address online hate 
Priority actions 
The National Cabinet Ministers’ Data and Digital Meeting urgently support and adequately fund an initiative to progress a proposal around data collection and the sharing of information about the nature and prevalence of racism and race and religious hate in Australia.  The Australian Government support the implementation of a National Anti-Racism Framework.  The Australian Government and social media and internet services undertake reform to urgently address online anti‑Muslim vilification and hate. 

Commission endorsed approaches :

Community solution  Who is responsible? 
Effective engagement with the Muslim community 

One of the fundamental issues raised by the Muslim community was the lack of implementation of recommendations and initiatives that were the result of various community consultations. There was an urgent push for effective engagement. Australian Muslims not only want to be part of the conversation but they want their voices, stories and experiences to drive positive action. 

A whole of society approach: individual, community, organisational and all governments. 
Public awareness education 

The Australian Muslim community noted that misconceptions about Islam and Muslims were all too common, and there was an urgent need for public awareness education. A better understanding of Islam and Muslims would equate to better intercultural relations. 

Federal, state and territory governments. 
Early inter-faith education 

Australian Muslims noted that public awareness and education would be most effective if implemented in the school curriculum, as it would give students an opportunity to meet members of the Muslim community and foster an early understanding of Australia’s multicultural community. 

Federal, state and territory governments. 
Increased representation of Australian Muslims in the media 

There was a consensus that greater positive representation of Australian Muslims within news and media meant more opportunities for the broader community to learn about and engage with Australian Muslims. Greater positive representation was also noted as key to 

 

Strengthen media frameworks 

There was a strong sense among Australian Muslims that there needed to be stronger guidelines and frameworks in place. This would ensure that Muslim representation in Australian news and media was fair, balanced and accurately represented Muslim participation in Australian society, rather than reflecting on just negative stereotypes and Islamophobic narratives. 

Australian News organisations/peak governing bodies. 
More diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace 

Muslim communities expressed the view that there is not necessarily a lack of diversity measures, but rather a lack of implementation of diversity and inclusion practices across businesses and organisations. 

Employers, organisations. 
Cultural competency in the workplace 

Australian Muslims noted the lack of cultural competency and the negative effects that this had on their participation in everyday work life. Prayer spaces and inclusive networking events were mentioned as key initiatives organisations could take to address these problems. 

Employers, organisations. 
Visible allies 

The responsibility to educate and defend Muslims should not lie with the Australian Muslim community alone. Australian Muslims expressed the need for visible allies outside the Muslim community to help support and aid social cohesion and engagement. 

A whole of society approach: individual, community, organisational and all governments. 
Robust legislative protection against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate 

Australian Muslim communities highlighted the pressing need for robust laws that prevent and provide protection against unlawful discrimination driven by Islamophobia and anti‑Muslim hate. 

State and Federal Government, including law enforcement authorities.