On Sunday 10th of November participants gathered for a program on Tackling Hate Speech organised by the Council of Christians and Jews Victoria (CCJ) and the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI).

The two hour session was presented by OHPI’s CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, and provided a demonstration of the sessions volunteers will be running in various location across Victoria in 2020 as part of the joint CCJ and OHPI Tackling Hate Speech program.

The program, created by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, covers:

  • The harm that hate speech causes
  • The importance of freedom of speech and how this is balanced with preventing the harm in hate speech
  • How to identifying a range of types of hate speech including general racism, racism that targets Indigenous Australians, antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Christian vilification
  • The difference between hate speech which targets people (generally prohibited) and blasphemy which targets religious ideas (generally protected by free speech)
  • Identifying hate was further examined through an activity in which participants examined 20 different examples of online hate
  • Tackling hate safely through both counter speech and reporting was discussed, including when it is safe to engage in different ways

The program on Tackling Hate Speech aims to empower communities in dealing with the growing problem of racism, religious vilification and other forms of cyberbullying. It is designed to provide training and support for local action by volunteers in participating churches, synagogues and other
communities.

The initiative has been praised by the State Premier, The Hon Daniel Andrews MP. In a message from the Premier shared with participants the Premier says, “On behalf of our Government and our state, thank you for your efforts in building that better, stronger and fairer future”.

More extensive training for program facilitators is scheduled for February, helping it create a network of experts within multiple communities. Representatives from additional faith groups, of any faith, who wish to become involved and have their volunteers trained to run sessions countering hate speech can contact the CCJ for further details.