An Open Letter To Australia’s Prime Minister And Political Leaders On Racial Intolerance


The signatories of this open letter are academics and scholars from across Australia who wish to lend their support to the chorus of Australians speaking out against recent statements by several media personalities and politicians which have instigated and accentuated a worrying trend of hate speech in Australia especially towards those of the Muslim faith.

We fear that such speech if left unchecked and allowed to fester will deepen divisions in this country, increase racial intolerance and discrimination, and at worst culminate in serious social tension and conflict. History is replete with cases of how the expression of extreme views against vulnerable minorities have escalated into hate crimes and violence, ripping apart the very fabric of society.

We maintain that freedom of expression is a vital and core value for a vibrant democratic country such as ours. However, we hold the view that an expression that incites hatred or fear against a section of our citizenry, or advocates and promotes discriminatory action, or implicit violence, against such a group must be summarily challenged and rejected.

As educators we believe it is of the utmost importance for our leaders to be alert to the damaging implications for social cohesion and harmony. We call on you to act decisively to expose the fallacious and misconceived nature of some of the views being expressed and to make a decisive and definitive condemnation of hate speech. While we appreciate that there have been some efforts made in this direction, a far stronger stance is needed. History teaches us that the appeasement of bigotry is a dangerous and self-destructive strategy.

What we need to foster and nurture in Australia is respectful and genuine dialogue, intercultural understanding and empathy. We believe that spurning hate speech and bigotry is the first step.

We urge you as the leaders of our nation to unequivocally condemn hate speech and oppose campaigns of vilification by adding your voices to the overwhelming majority of Australians who reject such a culture of scapegoating, bigotry and hatred.


Dr Philip Ablett
University of the Sunshine Coast

Dr Gregory Acciaioli
Anthropology & Sociology, University of Western Australia

Associate Professor Panizza Allmark
School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University

Professor Dennis Altman
Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University

Dr Julie Andrews
Convenor of Aboriginal Studies, La Trobe University

Dr Kristine Aquino
Department of Sociology, Macquarie University

Head of Paediatrics, Royal Darwin Hospital & Senior Lecturer, Flinders University

Professor Louise Baur, AM
University of Sydney

Dr Bijou Blick, MBBS, MPH, Dip Paeds
SW Institute of Psychiatry

Professor Gary D. Bouma, AM
UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Monash University

Professor Linda Briskman
Professor of Human Rights, Swinburne Institute for Social Research

Emeritus Professor Joseph A. Camilleri, OAM
La Trobe University, Managing Director, Alexandria Agenda

Dr Dean Chan
Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University

Professor James Chin
Director, Asia Institute, University of Tasmania

Dr Sky Croeser
Lecturer, Department of Internet Studies, Curtin University

Professor Caroline de Costa, AM
College of Medicine, James Cook University

Professor Bassam Dally
School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide

Dr Helen Driscoll
Consultant Psychiatrist, Victoria

Dr Caroline Fleay
Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University

Emeritus Professor Alberto Gomes
La Trobe University, & Director of Dialogue, Empathic Engagement & Peacebuilding (DEEP) Network

Associate Professor Patrick Guinness
The Australian National University

Professor Ghassan J. Hage
Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Ken Harvey
Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University

Professor David Isaacs, MBBChir MD FRACP FRCPCH
Department of Infectious Diseases & Microbiology, University of Sydney

Professor Paul James
Professor of Globalization and Cultural Diversity, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney

Dr Bert Jenkins
Convenor of Peace Studies, University of New England

Professor Jon Jureidini
Research Leader, Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide

Dr Elizabeth Kath
Lecturer, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Honorary Research Fellow with the UN Global Compact Cities Programme and Co-Director of Global Reconciliation

Dr Thor Kerr
School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts, Curtin University

Professor Ian Kerridge
Professor of Bioethics and Medicine, University of Sydney

Professor Damien Kingsbury
Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights, Deakin University

Professor Paul Komesaroff
Professor of Medicine, Monash University, & Executive Director of Global Reconciliation

Professor Marilyn Lake, FAHA, FASSA Professor of History, University of Melbourne

Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder
Public Health and Community Medicine, Sydney University

Professor Helen Lee
Professor of Anthropology, La Trobe University

Dr Julian CH Lee
Senior Lecturer, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University

Associate Professor James Leibold
Department of Politics and Philosophy, La Trobe University

Dr Debbi Long
Department of General Practice, School of Primary Health Care, Monash University

Professor Christopher Mackie
Professor of Public Scholarship, La Trobe University

Honorary Associate Professor David McKnight
School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales

Dr Michális Stavros Michael
Honorary & Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, La Trobe University & Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University, Director, Centre for Dialogue

Associate Professor Jane Mills
School of the Arts & Media, University of New South Wales

Associate Professor Christine Morley
Queensland University of Technology

Professor Ross Mouer
Emeritus Professor, Monash University

Dr Yamini Narayanan
Senior Lecturer, International and Community Development, Deakin University

Emeritus Professor Kim Oates
AM Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

Professor Baden Offord
Dr Haruhisa Handa Chair of Human Rights Education, Curtin University Professor, Curtin University

Professor Kaori H. Okano
Professor in Asian Studies, La Trobe University

Associate Professor Brigitta Olubas
School of the Arts & Media, University of NSW

Professor Suvendrini Perera
John Curtin Distinguished Professor, Curtin University

Dr Robbie Peters
Director of Development Studies, Sydney University

Dr Jennifer Philip
Honorary Associate Professor, University of Melbourne &Deputy Director of Palliative Medicine, St Vincent’s

Professor Leon Piterman
Pro-Vice Chancellor, Monash University

Professor Joseph Pugliese
Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University

Professor Graham Seal, AM
Director Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute, Curtin University

Professor Yoshio Sugimoto
Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University

Dr Gwenda Tavan
Head of Department of Politics and Philosophy, La Trobe University

Associate Professor Savitri Taylor
Law School, La Trobe University

Dr Antonio Traverso
School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts, Curtin University

Emeritus Professor David de Vaus
Former Executive Dean, University of Queensland

Dr Selvaraj Velayutham
Department of Sociology, Macquarie University

Professor Adrian Vickers, FAHA
Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Deborah Yates
Senior Staff Specialist in Thoracic Medicine & Conjoint Associate Professor, University NSW

Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Department of Sociology, Macquarie University

Dr Alex Wodak, AM
Emeritus Consultant, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Dr Shannon Woodcock
Sextures Institute, Melbourne

Professor Spencer Zifcak
Allan Myers Professor of Law, Australian Catholic University