There are many issues we might encounter in our daily lives in the South Australian community.

Vilifying is public speech that stirs up hatred. Public speech includes what is said in the media and in public places. It does not cover private conversations.

It’s against the law to vilify a person (or group) based on their race. A person's race includes their colour, country of birth, ancestry, ethnic origin or nationality.

Public acts that are likely to offend or intimidate someone are also against the law, if the act is about their race. That could include making a threat or damaging someone’s property.

Racial vilification laws make an exception for:

  • Artistic performances or artworks
  • Scientific or academic research, discussion or debate
  • Fair reports of, or comments on, matters of public interest.

Anyone who experiences racial vilification can complain to the Australian Human Rights Commission or, if it happens in South Australia, may be able to sue through the Courts.

Some vilification can also be a criminal offence, for instance, threatening to harm someone, damaging someone’s property or attacking someone. This can be reported to the police.

Offensive advertising, for example, an ad that you find racist or sexist, is not discrimination, but you can complain to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

For information on complaining about offensive radio, television or internet content, visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority website.

Guide and assistance dogs are no ordinary dogs and the law recognises this.

For instance, although dogs are not normally allowed in shops or taxis, the law says that a guide or assistance dog user is entitled to have their dog with them at all times. This means that they can bring their dog with them into any place normally open to the public, such as a shop, restaurant, café, bank or office. Guide and assistance dogs are also allowed on public transport, including in taxis.

It’s not only discrimination, but also a criminal offence, to separate someone from their guide or assistance dog.

Discrimination laws apply to sporting club membership and sporting competitions.

The law makes a few exceptions to general discrimination rules when it comes to sports participation where physical characteristics make a difference to sports performance. For example:

  • Sporting competitions can be limited by age group, such as an under-15s netball team or a Masters’ rowing competition.
  • Sporting competitions can be limited by sex if it’s a sport where strength, stamina or physique makes a difference to the results. For instance, it’s OK to have men’s and women’s running or swimming events.
  • There can be special sporting competitions for people with particular disabilities (like the Paralympics).
  • There can be sporting competitions designed to benefit people of a particular race, for instance the Aboriginal Power Cup.

All sports clubs must treat their members fairly and should not allow a culture of harassment or discrimination.

For more information about fairness in sport, visit Play by the Rules.

Discrimination laws also apply to spectators at a sports event, so, for instance, you cannot be refused admission to watch an event because of a personal characteristic (race, disability, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation etc).

Learn more about the below topics in a community setting.

Discrimination in the community

Sexual harassment in the community

Taking action