What can I do?
If you have experienced or witnessed racial discrimination in an airport, there are a variety of ways to report it.
Make a complaint to the Australian Federal Police (AFP)
If one or more members of the Australian Federal Police have acted in a discriminatory way against you or someone else in an airport, you can make a complaint directly to the AFP. Complaints can be made online or in person; by the victim, on behalf of someone else or anonymously. Should the AFP not be able to resolve the issue, you can take the matter to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, which is also the Immigration and Law Enforcement Ombudsman.
Make a complaint to the airport
If an airport security staff member has acted in a discriminatory way against you or someone else at one of the major Australian airports listed below, you can submit a complaint to the relevant airport:
- Adelaide airport
- Brisbane airport
- Cairns airport
- Gold Coast airport (you can read more about their complaint handling process here)
- Melbourne airport
- Perth airport
- Sydney airport
Take your case to a federal or state court
Any matter related to racism can be reported to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) or other state anti-discrimination bodies. You can click here for more information about how to make a complaint to the AHCR or to a state body.
After you have done that, in some cases it might be possible for you to take your case to court. As court procedures can be complicated and vary greatly from state to state, we recommend that if you wish to seek redress through the court system, you first seek advice from your nearest Community Legal Centre and/or Legal Aid to get further assistance on how and to whom you should make a complaint.
Before making the decision to start a court procedure, it is important to keep in mind that these procedures can be quite costly and lengthy. If this does not seem to be the best option for you, there are alternative dispute resolution methods available at anytime.
Go to the police
In some cases, a racially discriminatory act will constitute a crime and can be reported to the police. Which acts constitute a crime will vary depending on the state or territory you are in. If you wish to go to the police, we advise that you consult with a lawyer or a trusted police station first.
Airport security in Australian airports is regulated by the Australian Government. Security screening at Australian airports is the responsibility of authorised screening authorities and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the primary law-enforcement agency at the nine major Australian airports: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
While the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA) does not explicitly address police or airport services, it does makes it unlawful for a person who provides services to the public to refuse to provide these services, or to provide them on less favourable conditions, on discriminatory grounds. Furthermore, federal police forces in Australia must follow the AFP Code of Conduct while performing their duties. This code establishes that “an AFP appointee must act with fairness, reasonableness, courtesy and respect, and without discrimination or harassment, in the course of AFP duties.”
Despite this legal framework, airport discrimination is common in Australia and in many other countries. When visiting Australia in early 2018, US Rapper Le1f accused a border security officer in Melbourne of racial profiling. Furthermore, in May 2018, new federal laws expanded the federal police’s power to conduct identity checks at airports, a measure which can further increase racial profiling in the country.