Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Panel on the promotion and protection of human rights in a multicultural context, including through combating xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance

29 June 2012

We welcome this opportunity to speak to our steadfast commitment to the core values of inclusiveness and tolerance enshrined in Australia’s multiculturalism and our work towards eliminating xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance in Australian society.

We firmly believe that government has a responsibility to promote dialogue and mutual understanding based on respect for human rights for all people, without distinction as to race, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin or political opinion.

Cultural, linguistic and religious diversity is at the heart of Australia’s national identity and intrinsic to our future.

A key principle in our approach to multiculturalism is that people from all backgrounds should be given every opportunity to participate in and contribute to our nation’s social, economic and cultural life.

In Australia, people of all backgrounds are entitled to celebrate, practise and maintain their cultural heritage, traditions and language, within the law and free from discrimination.

The result has been that our nation has been both enriched and strengthened by its diverse and multicultural population.

Our experience also attests to the fact that effective anti-discrimination laws play an important role in upholding equality before the law and promoting minority rights.

A key tenet of anti-discrimination laws should be to provide legal protection to minority groups to observe their own practices free from harassment and persecution.

We would welcome the views on other examples of good practice by governments, including through legislation or otherwise, in promoting human rights and multiculturalism.