After Israel’s latest war on Gaza began in October 2023, the Islamophobia Register Australia (‘the Register’) saw a 13-fold increase in Islamophobic incidents being reported – the level of Islamophobia reported was unprecedented in the Register’s nine year history of operations. 

The Register has partnered with a range of law firms who are able to offer pro bono legal advice to victims of Islamophobic incidents in the context of current events in Gaza, including in employment,  law and other legal matters. Free mental health support is also available to those affected by recent events.

Additionally, in December 2023, the Register launched its Activation of Bystanders campaign to coincide with the holiday season.

The Register’s previous academic reports have demonstrated that many Islamophobic incidents occur in ‘hotspots’ – public places frequented by many people, such as at shopping centres and public transport.

Yet our research has also shown that bystander support has dropped significantly over recent years – in fact, it has about halved – indicating an urgent need to activate bystanders.

The Register’s Activation of Bystanders campaign comprises of a short 1 minute video urging bystanders to act in situations of Islamophobia and a training booklet and poster providing vital information for bystanders about how to become upstanders.

The campaign comes at a time of significantly heightened Islamophobia and is more important than ever. 

Another key issue has been the biased and dehumanising media reporting of Israel’s genocidal war on Palestine, and the way that this has contributed to increased levels of Islamophobia in Australia.

Anti-Palestinian racism is a specific and documented form of Islamophobia, and in the context of unprecedented levels of Islamophobia being reported to the Register, the Register commissioned an academic report to study media coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza.

The research, which was conducted by Dr Susan Carland and also released in December 2023, examines Instagram posts made from ABC News, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, 9News, news.com.au, and The Daily Aus between 7 October 2023 and 7 November 2023. 

Overall, five of the six accounts analysed (ABC News, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, 9News and news.com.au) demonstrated a lack of balance in their reporting in at least one of the assessed categories.

Five out of six major Australian media outlets failed to meet minimum standards of humanising Palestinians in their posts about Israel-Gaza. Five of the six accounts showed inequality and a lack of balance in their use of the active, passive and middle voice when reporting.

The Register issued a press release detailing some of the study’s further key findings and the Register’s position on the results of the research. 

Australian media needs to do better, and bystander support must be activated – these are some of the key themes of the Register’s latest advocacy.