COVID-19 is no excuse for racism

5 May 2020|Community News| Off Comments off on COVID-19 is no excuse for racism|

TASMANIANS are being urged to stand together and look out for one another, with the Tasmanian Government making the safety and security of Tasmanians their number one priority during COVID-19.

Equal Opportunity Tasmania has reported that it has received a significantly increased number of reports about racist comments and actions in relation to COVID-19.

Attorney-General Elise Archer said this type of behaviour had no place in our community.

“It’s not just wrong, it is unlawful and as Tasmania’s Attorney-General, I am extremely disappointed to hear of any reports of racist behaviour towards members of our multicultural communities in Tasmania,” she said.

“It is important that we all work together and respect one another in order to get through this challenging period.”

Ms Archer said during the pandemic and various shutdowns, everyone had the right to live and work in a discrimination and harassment free environment.

“You have the right not to be discriminated against because of your race, disability, family responsibilities and a number of other grounds,” she said.

“Disability includes any medical condition, including COVID-19, so it is also against the law to treat someone less favourably because you think that they have COVID-19.”

Examples of unlawful discrimination and prohibited conduct include:

Making racist comments towards people because of their race.  Race includes a person’s skin colour, nationality, ethnic background and immigrant status.

Forcing employees to undergo a test for COVID-19 when they do not meet the current Public Health testing criteria (for example. they have returned from overseas travel, disembarked from a cruise ship or had close contact with a confirmed case).

Reducing someone’s hours of work or terminating someone’s employment because they have COVID-19, or are caring for a child or relative who is in isolation, or who has COVID-19.

Refusing to rent a property to someone because of their race, or because they have COVID-19.

Cancelling a rental contract/agreement because you think someone may get COVID-19 because that person is a nurse, doctor or health care worker.

Refusing to serve a customer because of their race, or because they are wearing a mask.

Depending on medical advice, not allowing an employee to work from home who is older or is vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their health or because they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Ms Archer said we had a number of responsibilities during the pandemic, including:

a responsibility to follow all the latest Public Health advice and laws related to managing the pandemic; and

a responsibility not to discriminate, engage in offensive, humiliating, insulting, intimidating or ridiculing conduct, or incite hatred towards people because of their race or presumed disability (including if you think they have COVID-19).

“Remember, COVID-19 cannot impact our tremendous sense of community, goodwill and kindness that makes Tasmania such a wonderful place in which to live,” Ms Archer said.

“We will get through this together.”

For more information or if you would like to lodge a complaint, contact Equal Opportunity Tasmania on 6165 7515 or 1300 305 062 or e-mail

Caption: Attorney-General Elise Archer at a Multicultural Council of Tasmania event.

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