News : 24 Hour Racism Hotline Launched
Oct 29, 2014 -- A new 24-hour hotline will make it easier for hate crime victims to report cases of racial and religious vilification, the New South Wales Government says.
But an anti-discrimination campaigner said the just launched hotline was a "ridiculous" use of money that could be better spent resourcing the police force to improve its handling of the problem.
The Speak Out hotline will be operated by the NSW Police Force Call Centre with support from Multicultural NSW.
Its launch followed reports of an increase in verbal and physical attacks against Muslim women around the country after recent counter-terror raids in Sydney and Melbourne.
Police and Emergency Services Minister Stuart Ayres said the hotline was borne out discussions with community groups.
"They believe that having a dedicated line that is related to religious and racial intolerance is appropriate," he said.
"It's quite easy for us to do. We've got a number of well-trained people at the end of the phone line so we're delivering that."
But lawyer Lydia Shelley, the creator of the online Islamophobia Register Australia, said the hotline was a token gesture that would not help reduce racism.
She said NSW Police needed more officers trained to investigate hate crimes, and better training for officers who dealt with the public at police stations.
"When a woman or a man goes to report an incidence of violence or abuse that they've suffered because they’re Muslim ... it is not being documented or flagged appropriately," she said.
"Rather than train their police officers, they’ve introduced a nice new phone number. That, to me, is just ridiculous."
The number for the Speak Out line is 1800 131 555.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, October 30, 2014