Law and Order – Section18C Racial Discrimination Act

Freedom of Speech and s18C of Racial Discrimination Act

The CDP stands for Free Speech. The current wording of S18C (see actual legislation below) includes the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’. We believe that this overreach and can result in potential harmful restrictions on Free Speech.

The CDP supports the principle of freedom of speech and expression when that expression does not incite or promote criminal activity as recognised under Australian federal or state law or can be proven to be deceitful or false information. 


The CDP also recognises that in some instances certain speech or expression may be considered offensive or insulting to some; however these emotional responses are subjective to those concerned personal opinions and therefore should not be the foundation for any legislation to limit freedom of speech and expression.


As such the CDP supports the removal of the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Text of current Legislation

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 – SECT 18C

Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

Note: Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:

(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or

(b) is done in a public place; or

(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.

(3) In this section:

“public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.

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