Overt racism may well be on the decline around the country, but it still remains part of daily life for all too many Victorians according to a new report released by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

The Commission’s research on the nature and extent of racism in Victoria included in depth interviews with community stakeholders and an online survey, which sadly confirmed that racism is still alive and well in Victorian society.

The research concluded that the racism is most likely to be experienced or witnessed was at work, with 32 per cent confirming they had witnessed or experienced discrimination in the workplace. 31 per cent of respondents said they had witnessed or experienced racism on the street, while 15 per cent said they had experienced racism on public transport. 

Racism is a pernicious and, at times, devious beast that includes a broad spectrum of behaviour, according to acting Commissioner Karen Toohey.

"Racism can undermine an individual's sense of self-worth, leave them feeling vulnerable and isolated, and affect their mental and physical health," said Ms Toohey.

Ms Toohey said that the report shows that racism is still very much present in society, despite people thinking that it’s not part of the fabric of modern society.

"It is hard to believe that in modern Australia people are still refused service in a shop because of their skin colour or are subject to racial abuse because of their religious dress, but that is reality," Ms Toohey said.

"For many people, it is the daily, sometimes unconscious but persistent racism they face that has the most profound impact. These subtle, low-level acts create an environment incrementally and over time, where racism can escalate."

"We also know that racism and crimes motivated by hate harm individual health and wellbeing, for victims and bystanders. It creates fear and isolation for communities and is bad for our economy.


The report also found that racism has spread its tendrils into other aspects of life, infesting online environments such as social media and email.

"While social media has been identified as a site for racial and religious hate, it can also be part of the solution when it comes to providing strong examples of community members intervening and standing up to racist views," Ms Toohey said.