Sicilian Food Tour of Five Dock: 13 July 2013



, ,

On a lovely sunny winter’s Saturday in mid July 2013, I did a wonderful food tour with my cousins Paola and Rosie.

Organised by Carmel Ruggeri, who co-owns La Casa Ristorante in Russell Lea, the tour was a Sicilian Food Tour that focussed on the Sydney suburb of Five Dock as a speciliast hub for sourcing great Sicilian-inspired ingredients and food.

We met at Carmela’s restaurant La Casa Ristorante at 9.45 am where we were greeted by wonderfully warm hospitality and a lovely freshly roasted coffee before the tour began.

After loading in to a mini van, we soon arrived at Five Dock and our first stop, La Cremeria De Luca.

This place was really special and so beautiful inside. Take a look.




They made wonderful granita here, which is a traditional breakfast in Sicily. We tried one made from ice, frozen espresso coffee, blended with cream and sugar. IMG_2773




A brother and sister team have opened up Cremeria De Luca, with help from their Dad, who is quite a character. The grandfather had a gelateria in Sicily and a picture of the Grandfather’s licence in the shop is a lovely, nostalgic touch.



Next up on the Sicilian trail was Caminiti Butchery, across the road. They had set up a barbeque out the front of the shop to try delectable sausages that they make. There were two types: Sicilian Pork and Fennel; and Provolone and Tomato.

The pork and fennel ones were lovely, but in terms of an unusual taste, the Provolone cheese and tomato ones were amazing.



Next up was Bar Rizzo and some amazing arancinis. Bar Rizzo is a cafe now more known for its breakfasts. But they also do the most amazing arancini, according to Carmela.

We tried them and they were sensational.

The lady who made them said the recipe came from her brother. Arborio rice is used, as is neapolitan sauce. Egg and parmesan is mixed into the rice. Some have mozzarella, peas, bolognese sauce. They are prepared for celebrations and the lady who made them said they were “a lot of work”.

Our stroll took us past a memorial to Sicilians in the area. Here we saw elderly men hanging out on benches and shooting the breeze.

Onwards to Pasticceria Tamborrino, the most amazing cake shop.

Cristina was our guide who, together with her partner, run the place. Her partner trained in Rome as a pastry chef and opened the store 12 years ago. There is a huge variety.

We sat at a big table at the back of the store and were informed: cannoli are prepared on a stick, then deep fried. They are then filled with custard, ricotta (Southern Italian specialty), or chocoloate (Rome and Northern Italian specialty).

Large cannoli bubble up because white wine is used. Cottonseed oil is used for frying. Sicilian varieties of canneli have candied fruit and pistachio.

Cristina also showed us the most famous cake Pasticceria Tamborrino make, the baccio cake. It is made from an elastic chocolate (a secret ingredient, says Cristina) and filled wih semi-freddo. It won’t melt in a fridge and is 76% chocoloate.

Our final stop was Peter’s Delicatessen. This place has for several generations been Raineri’s delicatessen.

Here, they strive for traditionalism. There’s Sicilian olive oil and San Daniele proscuitto. We tried a cheese from the North of Italy, the Veneto region, called “Asiago” . It was mild, young cow milk cheese.

Our guide explained that we can’t bring salami from Italy. Some of the Australian salami makers have been going for a long time and this deli uses Casa products, from St Mary’s.

We also tried a pecorino, sheep’s milk, cheese. It was aged under pepper and because it is very light, you “can eat a tonne”. It had a lovely aftertaste.

Next up was a salami from Lismore and some Provolone piccante. We also had mortadella from Perth. Peter explained that there was not a prestigious following for mortadella here as there is in Italy. The chicken and chilli antipasto was excellent.

Peter then proceeded to make us a three cheeses pasta disha, using home made fusilli or strozzapreti. The cheeses were asiago, parmeggiano and truffle pecorino.

We tried the truffle pecorino too and it was out of this world good. The flavour of truffles cut through and deeply infused the beautiful cheese.


84 Ramsay Rd
Corner First Avenue
Five Dock


185 Great North Rd

Five Dock
(02) 9713 7027


157 Great North Rd

Five Dock


73-75 Great North Road

Five Dock


97 Great North Rd
Five Dock New South Wales 2046
(02) 9713 6886

Related articles:

Alpha leads Sydney odyssey: Peter Conistis


, , , ,

Peter Conistis’s new venture Alpha is a monument to everything that’s great about Greeks in Australia

Chef Peter Conistis shows off Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor

Chef Peter Conistis shows off Alpha. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited

 THE freshness and zing of the flavours, and the idea of ordering enough for a table to share, are trends very much in favour.

One thing you say about Greeks is they don’t mind building a monument. Greece, of course, has one of the world’s most impressive collections of marbleware, done large, but even a drive around Sydney reveals the wonders of red-brick and faux-colonnade suburban monuments Greek-Australians affectionately call “wog mansions”.

And now Sydney has the Hellenic Club, a building, or group of buildings, in the process of a revitalisation so wonderful it’s like a gift to the city from the Greek community. It’s hard not to be impressed, and grateful.

The first part of this redevelopment to open is Alpha, a restaurant occupying the bones of an 1880s church on Castlereagh St. The space has been disused since the 1950s, with threats to tear it down to build an office tower mercifully never realised.


New-fashioned dolmades at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor

New-fashioned dolmades at Alpha. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited


The $4 million-plus renovation has been transformative. Walk through sliding glass doors to find an airy white space with probably 20ft ceilings held aloft by arches and colonnades, fitted out with clever fixtures that include lamps in the shape of fishing nets.

In the kitchen is one of Sydney’s favourite Greek sons, Peter Conistis, a man whose culinary journey has been something of a personal odyssey spanning 20 years.

His credits include Civic Dining, Omega, Cosmos and Eleni’s, some of which have succeeded fantastically, others which haven’t. After a two-year hiatus, he’s back, and how.

At Alpha, Conistis has been careful not to alienate the Greek diners who are here in their droves, while striving to attract a new clientele with food that’s at once homely and honest, precise and sophisticated.

It’s village food, really, but done beautifully. It’s a happy coincidence that the freshness and zing of the flavours, and the idea of ordering enough for a table to share, are trends very much in favour right now.


 The rabbit and olive pie at Alpha. Picture: Adam Taylor

The rabbit and olive pie at Alpha. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited


The menu opens with a selection of dips that include an excellent and rustic sheep’s milk yoghurt tzatziki ($7), all chunky with dill, garlic, mint and cucumber; and melitzanosalata ($8), a gorgeous smoked eggplant dip, eaten with fluffy, charred pita ($2 per person).

Dolmades ($10), those famous Greek vine leaf parcels, are sexed up with almond rice and preserved lemon, while ouzo-cured ocean trout ($11) with grilled fennel and ruby grapefruit, is coolly summery, ambitious and eats well.

Diners with even the barest knowledge of Greek food will find much that’s recognisable, from meatballs in tomato and red wine ($11), to an oregano-and-lemon marinated lamb shoulder ($29/$39), spanakopita ($16), Greece’s famed spinach and fetta pie, and twice-cooked octopus with spinach and white beans ($21).


 The gorgeously luxe

The gorgeously luxe “retro” scallop moussaka at Alpha. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited


The sentimental will love Conistis’s nod to his past via two “vintage” dishes from 1993 – one a gorgeously luxe “moussaka” ($24) of just-cooked scallops layered between slices of creamy eggplant, the other a rabbit and black olive pie ($32), that’s dense and gamey, the rabbit flaked so it resembles the texture of tuna, the filo pastry dry and crisp.

The salads are lovely. Try a Horiatiki salad ($13) of cucumber, capsicum, red onion, olives and a slab of fetta that’s like a day trip to Athens. The crunchy, textural cabbage salad with kohlrabi ($7) is also very good.


Alpha's Horiatiki salad is like a day trip to Athens. Picture: Adam Taylor

Alpha’s Horiatiki salad is like a day trip to Athens. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited


Desserts, which include chocolate baklava ($6), are Greek-strength sweet, and the addition this week of skilled pastry chef Nic Waring (ex-Sailors Club) to the staff will add class.

The Greek and Australian wine list has its hits and misses while the service, under ex-Aria maitre d’ Jye Hong, is enthusiastic, if not necessarily very Greek.

I love Alpha. If I worked nearby I’d eat here a lot, not just for Conistis’s food that’s as comforting and wholesome as that of a favourite yiayia’s, but because the project is devilishly ambitious and enterprising.

Later this year, Conistis will open a fine diner upstairs in a gorgeous space yet to be finished, and a mezze bar will open on Elizabeth St next year.

In the meantime, enjoy Alpha. It’s a very fine monument to everything that’s great about Greeks in this country.


Greek Donuts with spiced honey syrup and walnut ice-cream at Alpha Restaurant. Picture: Adam Taylor

Greek Donuts with spiced honey syrup and walnut ice-cream at Alpha Restaurant. Picture: Adam TaylorSource: News Limited



238 Castlereagh St, Sydney

Phone 90981111


Food Greek

Open For lunch, Monday-Friday, and dinner, Monday-Saturday

Service Excellent

Value Exceptional

Highlight Beautiful food, beautiful place

Lowlight The lunch menu is limited

Rating 7.5/10

Secret Marrickville

Simon Black explores the inner west’s multicultural village. Pictures Rohan Kelly


Tasty retreat

IF you’ve eaten a buffet breakfast in NSW chances are you’ve tasted Richard Deignan’s bacon.

The fourth-generation butcher and owner of the Black Forest Smoke House on Victoria Rd supplies most of the large hotel chains in Sydney and surrounding suburbs.

“If you’ve stayed in any of the large hotels in the city you’ve woken up to our breakfast,” Mr Deignan said. “Which is lucky, during the GFC the one thing, the one constant was breakfast. It helped us to make it through.”

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Black Forest Smokehouse owner Richard Deignan with a Hand rolled double smoked Ham.Source: News Limited

While most of Mr Deignan’s business is supplying chains and wholesalers he still maintains a small shopfront on his 1000sqm factory.

The suburb is known for its produce, from the Marrickville pork roll which sees a lunchtime queue at the Hellenic Bakery and Cake store, to the organic markets on the weekend.

Every cheese and pasta producer has a shopfront with the local producers and council banding together to create a Made in Marrickville brand.

Owner and manager of the The Pasta Factory on Buckley St, Gino Farrugia, said the food community is relatively unknown in surrounding suburbs.

“You pay $30 (in other suburbs) for what you can buy here for $7,” he said.


A thriving theatre hot spot

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Producer Jessica Burns and Monique Salle at The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville.Source: News Limited

LIKE much of the inner west Marrickville is becoming a centre for arts with many theatres, art galleries and boutique coffee houses cropping up in the once industrial suburb.

On Faversham St the famous Red Rattler theatre continues to host everyone from musicians, artists and designers to the more ambiguous “experimentalists” and activists.

The artistic community is strong in Marrickville with more than 40 arts spaces, including the ESP Gallery on Illawarra Rd and Factory 49 on Shepherd St.


Past glories

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Corinna, mum Paola and Tharen Candi walking home from school past the ruins from an old castle at The Warren.Source: News Limited

THERE is a castle in Marrickville which still has its own feudal community.

Wool merchant, politician and eccentric millionaire Thomas Holt built The Warren, a gothic mansion complete with art galleries, Turkish baths and rabbit breeding ground (hence the name) in 1864.

While Holt left Australia in 1883 and the castle was demolished in 1919 after playing host to an order of Carmelite nuns and an artillery training camp during World War I, the area, several blocks long, is still known by locals as The Warren.

“My husband grew up here,” resident Paola Candi says. “He doesn’t tell people he’s from Marrickville; he says he’s from The Warren.”


Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Things of interest around the suburb of Marrickville. Statues on shop awnings on Marrickville Road.Source: News Limited

The strange figures perched above the shopfronts in Marrickville are the work of Victorian artist Ces Camilleri who erected sculptures prior to the 2000 Olympics.

“It was funny because Marrickville used to have a bad name down in Melbourne,” Camilleri said. “People would say to me `oh it’s pretty rough there isn’t it’. It doesn’t seem like that anymore, it’s much more welcoming.”

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Marrickville — Secret Suburbs. Things of interest around the suburb of Marrickville. Statues on shop awnings on Marrickville Road.Source: News Limited

Mr Camilleri returns to the suburb each year to maintain the sculptures and has noticed a change.

“There’s more artwork,” he said. “And people are happier. It’s just a nice culture sort of place now.”


Trash becomes treasure

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Warehouse Manager Andrew Cutts at Reverse Garbage.Source: News Limited

A MASSIVE T-Rex head, a 2m King Kong and coffee cup jellyfish were all garbage once, but now they’re part of Australia’s largest creative reuse centre.

Located in warehouse eight at the Addison Road Community Centre Reverse Garbage was the brainchild of a collective of school teachers who, in 1974, wanted an easy way to source materials for craft collection.

About 100 football fields worth of recyclable materials per year finds their way back into reuse rather than ending up on the trash.

Here you can find a piano for $80, hundreds of store mannequins, clothing, books, DVDs and some astonishingly hip-looking furniture.

“We’ve started to do reupholstering lately,” manager Andrew Cutts said. “For example we had some old purple cinema curtains donated and an ugly old vinyl couch.”

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Here you can find a piano for $80, hundreds of store mannequins, clothing, books, DVDs and some astonishingly hip-looking furniture.

“We’ve started to do reupholstering lately,” manager Andrew Cutts said. “For example we had some old purple cinema curtains donated and an ugly old vinyl couch.”


Solid as a brick

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

Hunter Schiller, 4, playing at Enmore Park.Source: News Limited

ONCE upon a time these were the brick pits which helped build Sydney with a single factory forging up to 300,000 bricks per week from the clay earth around Marrickville.

When the boom ended the pits became old and unused, eventually filling in with rainwater and posing a public safety hazard with drownings occurring in several of them.

The council resumed the old pits in the 20s and 30s creating many of the small public parks which populate the suburb.

Marrickville - Secret Suburbs

But the history of the area is lost on four-year-old Hunter Shiller who simply wants to get to the top of the rocket slide.

“The rocket is the best thing,” he said. “But they block it off.

“I want to get up there.”

The top levels of the slide are now blocked off to the public in much the same way as the brick pits were filled in with dirt but Hunter and mum Carolyn still enjoy the rest of the rides in the afternoon sun.

The Best Ten Cafes in Sydney’s Inner West

The Best Ten Cafes in Sydney’s Inner West

We’re all devoted to our own local cafe, but there’s no denying that the inner west has had particularly rich pickings of them lately. After a spate of new openings in 2012, the area offers everything from big-breakfast old faithfuls to fine-dining-trained chefs and experimental commune-type sanctuaries.

But if there’s one quality that ties these disparate breakfast-to-lunch hangouts together, it must be their sense of community. They all pride themselves on their local and hyperlocal produce, in-house preparation techniques, and nose for what their most important customers — locals — want.

So if you’re an inner westie, here’s our guide to the ten best cafes you’ll want to visit and revisit. And if you’re not from the area, well, it’s time for an expedition.

1. Cornersmith

Cornersmith is a legend worthy of its reputation. Originally a thread shop, the space is beautifully pared back, with a stark, tiled wall, a mustard ceiling and nary a vintage poster or knickknack in site. It feels a little French and a little like you’re sitting in a large kitchen of an old Australian home. A blackboard displays the simple menu, including a list of what fresh produce they have in that week. The menu revolves around these ingredients, which the co-owners, James and Alex, gather locally as much as possible — Marrickville residents who grow vegetables trade their excess for a jar of home-made jam or relish. Everything is made from scratch (they even have their own beehive), the service is super-friendly, the coffee is great.

314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville;

2. The Grounds of Alexandria

The team behind the Grounds have taken an industrial warehouse and transformed it into a homely, wholesome sanctuary. In fact, it’s almost a town. There’s the garden, which grows produce for the kitchen and doubles as an outside eating area for take-away meals. Listen carefully, you’ll find the chickens around here too. There’s also a kids’ playground, gardening classes, on-site bakery, and a coffee roasting facility incorporating testig and a boutique school. On a Saturday morning, the place is brimming with families, children joyously patting ducks, bunnies, and guinea pigs that don’t look too perturbed by the attention. It’s tempting to see this as some kind of cult — though one that truly justifies the following.The only downside of this experimental paradise that we can see is the time you’re likely to wait to get fed. Turn up early, plan a weekday visit, or pack your patience and wait for a table with a coffee in the garden.

Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria;

3. Double Roasters

Double Roasters has breathed life into a 1950s warehouse. Inside the cafe is a wave of activity: the espresso machine is purring away, with the barista furiously pumping out hot coffee; the coffee blender is sucking and spitting out aromatic beans; and staff are scurrying back and forth with plates of food. One of the selling points of Double Roasters is its passion for coffee. Single origin beans are roasted on site in 12kg batches, ensuring superior quality and consistency. The food menu is straightforward, but you’ll definitely get bang for your buck.

199 Victoria Rd, Marrickville;

4. Excelsior Jones

It’s hard not to fall in love with Excelsior Jones. The friendly cafe sits in what used to be an old corner store in Ashfield and is a welcome addition to a quiet neighbourhood that was, before Excelsior, devoid of a local haunt. Co-owners Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor are both ex Le Monde, and also on board to bring a touch of brilliance to the modest menu is Adrian Borg, who previously held stints at Assiette and District Dining. House-cured salmon hash with pearl shallots, fried buckwheat, poached egg, and fresh herbs ($16) is nourishing and tasty to say the least, while the bacon and egg sandwich with capsicum relish and aioli ($10) will please any fan of this staple. The team is incredibly enthusiastic about providing a place where locals and people from all walks of life are welcome and feel comfortable, and the atmosphere definitely reflects this.

139 Queen Street, Ashfield;

5. The Counter

There’s been a gradual takeover in the inner west cafe scene of smaller, well-designed cafes that focus primarily on coffee. Which, of course, a good cafe should. But the Counter in Petersham has also managed to include all the right eggs in its basket. Breakfast options are simple but with added tasty flares such as sourdough bread or homemade mayonnaise. The Smith’s Sister ($14) is a classic of slow poached eggs and bacon on sourdough, while the Mr Smith Sambo ($9.50) mixes a soft egg, bacon, tomato relish, and mayonnaise between toasted sourdough. While there is limited space and you might find yourself having a bit of a wait for a table, the delightful staff, and fast service means you won’t be frustrated by this smaller cafe.

96 Audley St, Petersham; 02 9560 2949

6. The Rag Land

It’s no secret that Redfern is definitely on the up. A little more gentrified, a little more hip. And while the Redfern/Waterloo border isn’t exactly Sydney’s most happening hotspot just yet, the Rag Land — a play on its Raglan Street location and light, bright bric-a-brac interior — is certainly a place worth visiting. Great food, sweet digs, and some winning coffee from one of the nicest teams we’ve met for a long time ranks high in our books. It’s also more than reasonably priced, welcoming, unpretentious, community-minded, and has FBi radio peeps winging it down the road.

129 Raglan Street, Redfern

7. Black Star Pastry

Just off King Street in Newtown, this hole-in-the-wall patisserie is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With rebels in the kitchen and hipsters on the floor, Black Star is one of a kind. What sets them apart from the rest? The creativity tablespooned into every single mixing bowl. And the end result? An eclectic combo of offerings, sure to wow all of one’s senses. For beginners, we recommend the strawberry watermelon cake with rose cream (four potions for $24). Then, try the lemon meringue tart with basil jelly, a genius concoction that will have you ordering a dozen at a time. For the kids, there’s Ginger Ninjas ($4), which have replaced the somewhat jaded gingerbread man at this happening hotspot.

277 Australia St, Newtown;

8. Trainspotting

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose breakfast. Given it shares its name with the famous nineties drug film, it’s apt that Trainspotting is drawing addicts — albeit of a different kind. The brainchild of Cameron Macpherson, previously of Restaurant Pepper in Balmain and Pier in Rose Bay, this unassuming café is giving Lewisham locals a long-awaited caffeine kick, and coffee connoisseurs something new to buzz about. The breakfast menu features the usual suspects as well as a number of in-house specialties. The Trainspotting Envy ($13) — poached eggs on a bed of spinach leaves topped with a feta and basil sauce — goes down a treat.

Shop 1, 3 Victoria Street, Lewisham

9. Paper Cup

Paper Cup is a Middle Eastern treat in the inner west. As well as coffees (Coffee Alchemy beans, roasted in nearby Marrickville) the tiny galley service area puts out a focused breakfast menu and sandwiches, with Middle Eastern flavours providing a hit of spices and texture to the signature dishes. Arabian-style bircher muesli with poached fruit, yoghurt, pistachios and honey ($10), and the Dr Shakshuka eggs poached in cumin and chilli-infused tomato sauce with local ricotta and fetta ($13) are both excellent. There is a sweet local vibe here. The staff chat to the customers, and one of the parents from the school across the road supplies the gluten free chocolate brownies; another the chai tea. Everything else (besides the bread) is prepared right in front of you, with the assistance of an induction cooktop and slow cooker.

157/161 Cambridge St, Stanmore;

10. Fleetwood Macchiato

There’s plenty to like about Fleetwood Macchiato aside from its punchline sagacity. The cosy cafe in the quiet neighbourhood of Erskineville is inviting from the moment you step in. Owners Tara, David, and Jai have previously already worked together so are no strangers to the industry and it’s obvious. The simple fit out of wood panelling and white walls is home to a combination of good food, relaxed atmosphere and friendly service. Bread is provided from Organic Bread Bar in Paddington and it’s worth noting that whatever they’re putting between the slices is homemade and incredibly mouth-watering. A bacon and egg roll comes smashed with avocado, mustard mayo, spicy sriracha sauce, pickles, and mushrooms ($12.50) and a wholemeal baguette is overflowing with fig, taleggio, fennel, and a well-dressed watercress and mesclun salad mix ($11).

43 Erskineville Road, Erskineville;

By the Concrete Playground team.

57134 Theory and Creative Writing

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular semester, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

UTS: Communication: Creative Practice
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade, no marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Handbook description

This is a core subject for two of the graduate writing programs and one which provides valuable theoretical and historical contexts for students’ own writing. It introduces students to major developments in literary theory and examines in close detail a number of key texts from several genres that illuminate the use of theory for the practising writer. It also introduces students to some of the major developments in western literature, such as realism, modernism and postmodernism, as well as to the narrative theories that underlie these developments, particularly in relation to contemporary writing. Students critically explore ideas on writing directly arising from their theoretical and other reading, both in classroom discussion and in their written work. Students also workshop their creative writing, which is expected to reflect aspects of writing and literary theory that has been explored in the subject.

This subject:

  • contextualises writing by examining literary movements, ideas and developments
  • promotes essential critical and creative thought in relation to reading and writing
  • enables a practical understanding of aesthetics and cultural debates
  • enables exploration and experimentation of ideas in writing practice.


Subject objectives/outcomes

At the completion of this subject, students are expected to:

  1. understand the relationship between literary theories and writing practices
  2. have developed their own critical voice
  3. apply that critical voice to their own work and that of others
  4. have improved their skills in analysing the writing of others
  5. appreciate the diversity and possibilities of theoretical approaches to writing
  6. be able to apply theoretical approaches to their own creative writing.


Contribution to course aims and graduate attributes

This subject:

  • contextualises writing by examining literary movements, ideas and developments
  • promotes essential critical and creative thought in relation to reading and writing
  • enables a practical understanding of aesthetics and cultural debates
  • enables exploration and experimentation of ideas in writing practice.


Teaching and learning strategies

Reading and writing activities will be conducted via several modes, including formal and informal lectures, seminar presentations, workshopping activities, research, in-class discussion and analysis. Students will also participate in the UTS Online Blackboard learning system to exchange material for discussion and to circulate drafts of their work for feedback prior to classes. Material supplementary and complementary to the weekly lectures will also be posted on UTS Online.



Critical Reading and Writing
While readers can read without being writers, the reverse is impossible. As Alberto Manguel reminds us in A History of Reading (1997), the first maker of messages and creator of signs was meaningless without his/her logical other: ‘Writing required a reader.’ Therefore students are required to read closely the work of other writers to understand the possibilities open to them. The readings include exemplary texts in several genres, critical essays, literary and cultural theory. We shall be doing a close study of the readings, paying particular attention to the relationship between critical theory and practice, as represented in the key set texts, and to the broader cultural and historical contexts of the authors studied. Students will present a seminar paper reflecting a close reading and analysis of the examples they choose to illustrate the exploration of their topic. These examples shall be from the reader or the list of set texts. However as students are encouraged to read widely, examples from other texts may be considered for study and discussion; if this is the case, it will be each student’s responsibility to provide copies of these readings to the class before their scheduled seminar presentation. Drafts of these presentations may be circulated beforehand via UTS Online.

Creative Reading and Writing
Every workshop is informed by the belief that continual and detailed examination of one’s writing within a group provides the best context for developing creative writing. This philosophy stretches back at least as far as Dorothea Brande’s writing workshops in the 1930s, where she promoted ‘corrective reading’: the refinement of work by application of constant self-criticism. The workshop enables students to acquire and develop the process of corrective reading within an atmosphere of generous yet rigorous scrutiny. Each student will present their own writing for discussion in workshop either in small groups or to the whole class at least once during the semester, and will receive both oral and written feedback from the rest of the class. The workshop will be supportive of risk-taking and experimentation, and the feedback will aim to raise questions and identify problems through constructive criticism offered with goodwill and generosity. One piece of creative work is to be handed in for assessment; this work will be partly inspired and shaped by the theoretical components of the subject and will ideally be an example of theory in practice.



Assessment item 1: An academic essay of 2,500-3,000 words, reflecting a close reading and analysis of the chosen topic and discussing the relationship between theory and writing. The essay will originate from a ten-minute class presentation during which the student will receive feedback from the lecturer and peers.

Objective(s): a, b, c, d
Weighting: 50%
Length: Word Limit is 2,500–3,000 words
Assessment criteria:
    • Insightful reading of the set text/s
    • Logical and thorough development of critical ideas
    • Application of theoretical approaches/arguments to the set text/s
    • Clarity and appropriateness of expression to the essay form
    • Effective presentation of the work including correct referencing and bibliography.
    • Evidence of supplementary research, including recent refereed articles from library databases

Assessment item 2: A piece of creative writing demonstrating theory in practice

Objective(s): a, c, e, f
Weighting: 50%
Length: 3,000 words or equivalent
Assessment criteria:
    • Originality and imaginative quality of work
    • Structural and stylistic accomplishment
    • Creative reflection of theoretical approaches
    • Professional presentation of the work.


Minimum requirements

Students are expected to read the subject outline to ensure they are familiar with the subject requirements. Since class discussion and participation in activities form an integral part of this subject, you are expected to attend, arrive punctually and actively participate in classes. If you experience difficulties meeting this requirement, please contact your lecturer. Students who have a reason for extended absence (e.g., illness) may be required to complete additional work to ensure they achieve the subject objectives.


Recommended texts

Online readings available through library website

  • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary. (Novel) Any recent edition
  • V. de Sica. The Bicycle Thief. (Film) Available to view in library



The following is a select list of references which students will find useful for this subject. All books are available in the UTS library.

Reference works:
Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms (1988)
Fowler, Roger (ed). A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms (1987)
Harris, Robert. ‘A Glossary of Literary Terms’
Lentriccia, Frank & Thomas McLaughlin (eds). Critical Terms for Literary Study (1987)
Peck, John & Martin Coyle. Literary Terms and Criticism, a students’ guide (1984)
Saunders, Ian. Open Texts, Partial Maps: a literary theory handbook (1993)
Wolfreys, Julian (ed). Critical Keywords in Literary and Cultural Theory(2003)

Theory and criticism:
Bal, Mieke. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (1985)
Barthes, Roland. A Roland Barthes Reader, ed. & introd. Susan Sontag (1982)
Derrida, Jacques. Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge (1992)
Eagleton, Mary (ed). Feminist Literary Theory, a reader (1986)
Eagleton, Terry. Marxism and Literary Criticism (1976)
—————— Literary Theory: an introduction (1983; 1996)
Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (1984)
Frow, John. What Was Postmodernism? (1991)
Jameson, Frederic. The Political Unconscious: narrative as a socially symbolic act (1981)
Kermode, Frank. The Art of Telling: essays in fiction (1983)
—————— An Appetite for Poetry: essays in literary interpretation (1989)
Hawkes, Terence. Structuralism and Semiotics (1977)
Holquist, Michael. Dialogism: Bahktin and his world
Homer, William Innes. The Usage of Contemporary Criticism Clarified (1999)
Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: history, theory, fiction (1988)
—————— & Joseph Natoli (eds). A Postmodern Reader (1993)
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (ed Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth & Imre Szeman) (2004)
Kerschner, R.B. Joyce, Bakhtin and Popular Literature: chronicles of disorder (1989)
Lodge, David. Modern Criticism and Theory: a reader (1988)
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (Gen Ed Vincent B. Leitch) (2001)
Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction: theory and practice (1982)
Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. Narrative Fiction: contemporary poetics (1983)
Rivkin, Julie & Michael Ryan (eds). Literary Theory: an anthology (1998)
Tompkins, Jane P (ed). Reader-Response Criticism, from Formalism to Poststructuralism (1980)
Wolfreys, Julian. Literary Theory: a reader and a guide
—————— Introducing Literary Theories; a guide and a glossary (2001)

Cultural/historical commentary:
Davis, Mark. Gangland: cultural elites and the new generationalism (1997)
Docker, John. In a Critical Condition; struggles for control of Australian literature (1984)
Gelder, Ken & Paul Salzmann. The New Diversity: Australian fiction 1970-88 (1989)
Manguel, Alberto. A History of Reading (1997)

Writing guides/writers on writing:
Brande, Dorothea. Becoming a Writer (1981)
Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life (1989)
Disher, Gary. Writing Fiction (1983)
Lodge, David. The Practice of Writing (1996)
Plimpton, George (ed). Writers at Work, the Paris Review interviews (1981)

Green-minded residents bag a banner


Friday, 22 August 2008

Banners flown in Sydney’s streets have been given a new lease of life. The used banners are now being transformed into carry bags, the first of which were snapped up by visitors to the City’s recent Live Green festival.

Council’s senior project co-ordinator Kath McLaughlan said the banners to bag project, a partnership between Council and Marrickville’s Reverse Garbage, was a successful example of turning waste into a resource.

‘A stockpile of City of Sydney banners had been growing and growing,’ she said. ‘They are a fantastic resource but we just didn’t know how to turn them into a reusable item.’

Reverse Garbage is a non-profit cooperative that collects industrial discards for resale. Projects manager Mary-Jean Newton explained that while most people are keen recyclers, many still struggle to come to terms with how to reuse certain materials.

After brainstorming ideas ranging from outdoor pillow covers to horse pyjamas, Reverse Garbage eventually settled on cutting and sewing the 4.5 metre by 1.5 metre banners to produce practical and durable shoulder bags with straps.

Volunteers were originally sewing the bags by hand, before Willy Suwanto offered the services of his embroidery and design business, Bordir. ‘We wanted to keep it local and with the Live Green festival fast approaching, we are so lucky we found him,’ Ms Newton said.
Charged with the massive task of making the first batch of 3000 bags, Mr Suwanto said the project gave him butterflies in the stomach. ‘I thought it would take one and a half to two months but we were still going right up to the end,’ he said. Mr Suwanto had two people sewing the bags and said it was possible to make ten bags from each banner.

Giving back to the community is not new to Willy Suwanto. He has visited hospitals and taken children with disabilities on motorbike rides.

The first batch of bags were made from the city’s old 2030 banners, displayed around the CBD earlier this year, and distributed free at Live Green. Each bag featured a tag declaring: ‘I used to be a City of Sydney banner’ with a vintage date.

‘We still have lots of banners, we’ve had them for years and they are still for sale, but they don’t go out as fast they come in. It’s great that council has taken the intiative through its waste educators to get a project like this going,’ Ms Newton said.

More than 1600 street banner poles are positioned throughout the city, at locations on George Street, Martin Place, Macquarie Street, Oxford Street, Taylor Square, Williams Street and Kings Cross.

Mother’s tribute to her ray of sunshine

Arthur Haines was a 13-year-old boy on school holidays, looking forward to a day at the Easter Show, when he stayed at a friend’s house in Walker Street, Waterloo.

“It was Good Friday,” says Arthur’s mother Julianne Szabo, ten years on from the tennager’s tragic death. “The boys were going to the Easter Show the next day. They wanted to get an early start.”

Arthur was sleeping in a room in a three-storey terrace, when a molotov cocktail crashed through a kitchen back door. Within minutes the whole house was ablaze and Arthur was trapped in a top bedroom.

Arthur eventually got out of the home but died in hospital from his injuries 11 weeks later. “He would have woken in a daze and then made his way down. He came out with no protection, wearing only his favourite blue denim jeans”, says Ms Szabo.

Arthur’s young life was cut short senselessly, murdered in a feud between neighbours that spread until it divided the entire street.

The Coroner’s Court inquest in 2001 into Arthur’s death heard that the feud in Walker Street began between Janine Masuda, the owner of the house Arthur was staying at, and her neighbour Fay Dwyer. It allegedly spread to Mrs Dwyer’s sons and daughter Sharon and her de facto husband Greg Walker, who lived down the road and a raft of others who lived on or regularly visited the street.

But when residents and visitors to Walker Street were summonsed to explain the firebomb at the inquest, most chose not to name names.

A $100,000 reward has been offered since 2000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction for those responsible for deliberately starting the fire in Walker Street.

Police re-examined the Walker Street case four years ago in a bid to identify new witnesses, without any new outcomes.

Detective Acting Inspector Steven Trevitt said then that investigations had been unsuccessful, with “several members of the local community reluctant to provide information”. Homicide detectives and Redfern Police reinterviewed several residents of Walker Street and calls were renewed for anyone with information to come forward.

Ms Szabo renews those calls today. “We haven’t found the people responsible. I will never give up hope that we do,” she says. “So my son and I can have peace.”

A ten-year memorial was held for Arthur Haines, at the site of his memorial tree, an Illawarra Flame Tree, and plaque in Tobruk Reserve in Waterloo on June 29.

“Arthur was my ray of sunshine,” says Ms Szabo of her only child.  

Arthur’s murder remains unsolved. Anyone with information is urged to come forward. All information will be treated as confidential and can be given at any police station or by phoning Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

First published in South Sydney Herald, July 2008

Linda Daniele

Relic inspires devotion, raises questions


, , ,

Visitors to Sydney for World Youth Day came from far and wide in many guises, but not many arrived in a closed zinc-lined coffin.

The remains of Pier Giorgio Frassati, one of 10 saintly patrons for World Youth Day, were flown in from Turin, Italy and hosted at St Benedict’s Church at Notre Dame University Broadway.

Pier Giorgio’s feast day was celebrated on July 4, the anniversary of his death over 80 years ago, at St Benedict’s by Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, and Bishop Anthony Fisher, Co-ordinator of WYD, with a special mass.

A week later, the Italian blessed was moved to St Mary’s Cathedral, where he stayed for the remainder of World Youth Day celebrations. Organisers encouraged pilgrims and members of the public to visit Pier Giorgio and his body was a “focal piece” of the pilgrimage to the Cathedral until July 22, according to an official statement.

Pier Giorgio Frassati, described in the statement as “charismatic” and “revered for his social activism, sporty nature, sense of humour and generous spirit”, was 24 when he died from polio. Born in 1901 into a wealthy family that owned the still running La Stampa newspaper, he was known for his profound spiritual life from an early age, shown in many works of charity.

His entry on the WYD08 website as a patron of the event reads:  “A layman who lived only to 24 years of age, his love for sports, friends and the poor make him an ideal model to propose to Australians. His embrace of social justice as a university student makes him a hero to young pilgrims.”

Pope John Paul II called Pier Giorgio Frassati a “man of the beatitudes” at his beatification ceremony, a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s accession to Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name, in 1990.

Since then, Pier Giorgio had been safely ensconced in his zinc-lined coffin at the Cathedral of Turin in Italy. But the touring and display of the remains of long-deceased saints and blesseds as part of World Youth Day represents a revival of one of the Catholic Church’s older traditions.

While Catholic spokespersons have revelled in the presence of these relics, others raised concerns the emphasis on older and seemingly odd traditions ran the risk of repelling younger Catholics from the Church.

Father Mark Podesta, a 31 year-old Catholic priest and WYD spokesperson, said Pier Giorgio Frassati was a “role model for young people because he was an ordinary fellow who achieved extraordinary things. He proves that saints aren’t necessarily people from ancient times. They can be people from living memory.”

Father Podesta said while it was fine to describe the practice of visiting and praying to the relics of saints and blesseds as “mystical”, to call it “old-fashioned” was not. “Young people are happy to use externals and I include myself in that, to help lift our minds and hearts,” he said. “Even outside Christianity, for instance in New Age beliefs, the use of externals such as incense and chants are very acceptable,” he explained.

Bernie Quinn, 26, a spokesperson for the Opus Dei organisation, agreed that saints can be relevant and inspiring to young people. She told ABC radio it was “very exciting” to have had the relics of Pier Giorgio in town. “I think they’re relevant because he is a young person who died when he was 24 and I think saints are an inspiration for us to help love Jesus more,” she said. “So I think no matter when in the Church’s history, they’ll always be relevant for people.”

But the worshipping of relics has surprised some. Rod Blackhurst, a lecturer in philosophy and religious studies at La Trobe University said: “The cult of relics and so forth is very specifically Catholic, and many people thought that the Second Vatican Council had effectively marginalised or done away with a lot of that, but there seems to be a revival of those things.”

Mr Blackhurst said he was unsure why such practices would be making a come back, but it was certainly the case that “contemporary religion seems to be very polarised between liberal elements and a return to more conservative and traditional elements.

“And so we are seeing a return to those more traditional forms of worship, what you would effectively call medieval forms of worship, side by side with more liberal and modernising elements.”

The Second Vatican Council was an attempt to modernise the Catholic Church, moving away from some of the biblical literalism of the past and placing more of an emphasis on ideas of social justice. Dr Paul Collins, a former Catholic priest and author of Believers: Does Australian Catholicism have a Future?, says this can help explain why today’s young Catholics may not be aware of some of the older traditions that existed before the 1960s.

As for the saintly relics themselves, Dr Collins said: “Well, [young Catholics] certainly haven’t seen them I’d say, especially if they went to Catholic schools where the emphases would be quite different.” Dr Collins thinks that to some extent the travelling relics reflect “more the kind of religiosity of the organisers of World Youth Day, rather than the mainstream Catholic Church.”

“I think for Australian Catholics, and I think for Australians generally, these are kind of odd things that are different, that people find a little hard to fit into any context and don’t make much sense to them,” he said.

But Mr Blackhurst counters with the suggestion that the resurgence of the worship of relics and an interest in more spiritual ceremonies generally may be what some Christians feel they need. “The liberal agenda of the Second Vatican Council was very successful at taking apart and exposing the limitations of that old 1950s Catholicism that people from that generation would know. But they weren’t particularly good at replacing it with things,” he said. He points to a “yearning amongst young people to go back and experience those things which they felt had been lost and that perhaps were valuable.”

Father Podesta agrees that praying to saints restores some of the more mystical, devotional aspects of Catholicism alongside its post-Vatican II social justice focus. “We need to attach ourselves to something. Like in work, we’re attached to a business, part of something because we’re not comfortable otherwise. It’s the same thing with prayer, where it’s easy to be distracted. It’s not worshipping the body of saints or worshipping saints as Gods, with praying to saints accused wrongly of idolatry. Instead it’s saying ‘Here I have a human being I can relate and feel close to’ and I can pray to him or her in Heaven as a source of inspiration, an extra voice and an advocate,” he said.

Linda Daniele

*First published in South Sydney Herald, August 2008

57021 Journalism Internship

UTS: Communication: Creative Practice Credit points: 8 cp Result type: Grade, no marks Requisite(s): 57011 Research and Reporting for Journalism These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses. See access conditions.

Handbook description

This subject gives students opportunities for structured professional work placement in which journalism is produced. Those participating in this subject produce a portfolio of journalism, a written report and a diary of the time and work details during the attachment. Students build on and develop skills they have acquired during their studies and apply those skills in a practical environment. The subject is aimed at self-directed learning and regular academic supervision. Students are also asked to present a seminar paper that reflects their knowledge and learning experience with other students.


Subject objectives/outcomes

On completion of this subject students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. a professional portfolio of work which will include a report on the attachment and a detailed critical review
  2. an ability to undertake group and/or individual work under supervision
  3. an ability to recognise and apply basic industry standards in relation to the work
  4. an ability to develop professional skills gained during the subject by producing high quality journalism
  5. an ability to evaluate their own learning and professional practice
  6. an ability to evaluate and analyse teaching and learning activities in relation to professional practice.


Contribution to course aims and graduate attributes

At the completion of the subject, students will:

  • have strong research and reporting skills and be able to effectively retrieve and analyse information from a range of sources
  • have a knowledge and critical understanding of the media
  • be equipped with the necessary skills to either enter professional practice in the media or continue with additional skills and intellectual depth
  • have an understanding of the relationship between media theory and practice
  • have a critical understanding of the relationships between technology, professionalism and social change and be able to adapt their professional skills to future change and to new production challenges
  • develop the ability to be self-reliant and pro-active, flexible and innovative
  • have an understanding and commitment to ethical journalism practice.


Teaching and learning strategies

This subject will provide students with an understanding and appreciation of current professional practices, procedures, issues and skills in the field of journalism. Students enrolled in this subject should aim to build-on and develop the skills they have acquired during their studies and apply those skills in a practical environment. Students undertake a structured professional work attachment, in which the student’s learning needs and the journal to which he or she is attached can be brought together in a specified project or a set of tasks. This is not considered work experience but a subject built on self-directed learning with regular and rigorous academic supervision. The attachment will require approximately 100 hours work by the student during the semester. This may be undertaken at times agreed to by the student and the journal where the attachment will take place. Students may decide to split their attachment and spend time with two different organisations, publishers or programs.



Following consultation with the supervisor, the student will arrange the attachment. In some cases the supervisor may also assist in securing a placement through industry contacts. The student will negotiate the attachment, which is a three-way agreement between the student, the sponsor and the supervisor. This will define goals for the student and the sponsor to assist the student in gaining the maximum professional practice in their field. Regular contact with the supervisor must be maintained during the semester. Requirements

  • Students may choose to secure an attachment in any medium or journalism genre for which they have the skills and experience.
  • They must meet with their supervisor at least three times during the semester and have regular phone and/email contact as well as attending three subject seminars when students will review their attachments and provide a critical analysis for peer reflection and review.
  • Students will submit a CV to the supervisor along with subjects already completed and those currently being undertaken as well as a full brief on the attachment.
  • Students will complete a 2,000-word written report that offers an appraisal/critique of their attachment.

Class seminars There will be occasional workshops scheduled by the supervisor for round table discussions during the semester. These may also include other postgraduate students undertaking project work and their supervisors. Insurance For any work or activity in a workplace outside the University, students must complete an insurance indemnity application. Their supervisor will provide this information It is their responsibility to acquire the necessary forms, complete them, keep a copy themselves and give a copy to their supervisor to file and another to their industry sponsor.



Assessment Item 1: Preparation of brief

Objective(s): c (an ability to recognise and apply basic industry standards in relation to the work)
Weighting: 10
  • Clear, complete and accurate outline of learning objectives
  • evidence of thorough research.

Assessment Item 2: Evidence of work produced

Objective(s): a, b, c, d (a professional portfolio of work which will include a report on the attachment and a detailed critical review; an ability to undertake group and/or individual work under supervision, recognise and apply professional standards, and develop enhanced professional skills)
Weighting: 70
  • Professional content and presentation of work
  • demonstration of capacity to produce quality journalism
  • demonstrated capacity to reflect on the experience of learning.

Assessment Item 3: Final report/reflective critique

Objective(s): e (an ability to evaluate their own learning and professional practice)
Weighting: 20
Criteria: Capacity to reflect critically on the experience of the attachment and to make links between professional work and relevant literature studied during the subject. As well, assignments will be assessed on the following:

  • Evidence of understanding of the professional practices carried out in the place of attachment
  • Depth of research
  • Accuracy and clarity in writing
  • Organisational ability
  • Understanding of relevant media and ethical issues
  • Ability to express themselves clearly in seminar presentation and initiate discussion and evaluate own learning activities
  • Evidence of ability within the written report of understanding and involving themselves in the professional practice and subsequent development of professional skills.


Minimum requirements

Students are expected to read the subject outline to ensure they are familiar with the subject requirements. You are expected to initiate, attend, arrive punctually and actively participate in all scheduled meetings or classes. If you experience difficulties meeting this requirement, please contact your lecturer. Students who have a reason for extended absence (e.g. illness) may be required to complete additional work to ensure they achieve the subject objectives. To complete the requirements of this subject, students must prepare a brief, provide a portfolio of work and submit a report. They should also attend the class workshops.


Required texts

There are no set texts


Recommended texts

There are no set texts



There are no set readings for this subject however the supervisor may suggest some texts or library and online resources.


Regulation of the Media: Hate Speech Essay

Hate speech laws have existed in various forms in Australia for over two decades. Unlike other countries, such as the United States and Canada, they have not faced constitutional hurdles to their existence. The general acceptance of hate speech laws in Australia opens intellectual space for the exploration of a range of interesting questions regarding the laws’ operation, the underlying values they pursue and the context within which hate speech is occurring.

How should the regulation of hate speech be balanced against Australia’s political and cultural commitment to freedom of speech? Who are the hate speakers and how does their speech manifest? What types of hate speech are targeted by existing laws? How are these laws enforced? How can the laws be changed to improve governments’ response to hate speech?


Sydney Morning Herald’s Photographer Andrew Meares captures the fury of the Cronulla riots.


In February 2006, Sydney radio personality John Laws attempted to justify his description of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy host Carson Kressley as a ‘pillow-biter’ and a ‘pompous little pansy prig’ during a broadcast in 2004 by saying his comments were ‘tongue-in-cheek’ and ‘light-hearted’ (King 2006). In July 2006, the Classification Review Board refused classification of two books – Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan – on the ground that they promoted and incited acts of terrorism (ABC News 2006a; Osbourne 2006). The same year there was a concerted attempt in Victoria to push for repeal of that State’s religious and anti-vilification laws, including a somewhat confused pledge to do so by the Liberal Party opposition (Wallace 2006). In Western Australia, the State’s newly amended criminal anti-vilification laws were tested with the prosecution of a complaint against a 15-year-old Aboriginal girl for verbally abusing a young white woman by calling her a ‘white slut’ (McDiarmid 2006; ABC News 2006b).

These disparate events are connected by their concern with speech which is considered by some to reach beyond the boundaries of that which ought to be protected in a liberal-democratic society. Debate over the extent to which freedom of speech – a cherished liberty – ought to be given priority over other, competing, interests is not a new one. However, the phenomenon of ‘hate speech’ is a particular manifestation of that debate.

‘Hate speech’ is speech or expression which is capable of instilling or inciting hatred of, or prejudice towards, a person or group of people on a specified ground including race, nationality, ethnicity, country of origin, ethno-religious identity, religion, sexuality, gender identity or gender.

The most commonly cited problems posed by hate speech laws is their apparent inconsistency with free speech principles. The problem of hate speech and its regulation is thus at the centre of a long-running debate that goes to the core commitments of a liberal-democratic society. As important as the debate is over whether hate speech laws are permissible or not on free speech grounds, the reality is that the decision has been made by the Australian people and their parliaments that hate speech warrants a legal response to minimise its harms and occurrence.

The fact that hate speech laws already exist in Australia raises intellectual space for other, arguably more interesting, questions to be asked. These include: who are the hate speakers and how does their speech manifest?; what types of hate speech are targeted by existing laws?; are there newly emerging types of hate speech which warrant a change in existing policy frameworks?; how can the laws be changed to improve governments’ response to hate speech?; and how is the context within which hate speech occurs changing? It is to these types of questions that this essay is devoted.

Hate speech and the Australian legal and political landscape

Any discussion of the controversial policy area constituted by hate speech regulation must take into account the context within which such regulation occurs. Does the legal framework protect free speech, and if so, to what extent and in what ways? How has the emergence of hate speech regulation challenged pre-existing presumptions in favour of the speech liberty?

The ‘freedom of speech’ context

In Australia, free speech has been described as a somewhat precarious freedom which has been reliant on a common law tradition and not, as in many other jurisdictions internationally, a broad and entrenched free speech protection or clearly enunciated federal statutory free speech protection in the form of a bill of rights[1]. This tradition has led scholars to describe free speech protection in Australia as ‘delicate’ (Chesterman 2000a), and ‘partial and unsatisfactory’ (Gelber 2003) in its ability to protect speech from governmental restriction.

Additionally, a doctrine of an implied constitutional freedom of political communication has been developed in the High Court since 1992 (Pearson and Polden 2011). This doctrine is limited in its application and scope. It is viewed as an implication from the form of representative and responsible government established by the Constitution and operates as a freedom from government restraint, rather than a right conferred on individuals (Gelber 2003: 23-32; Patapan 2000: 51-9; Stone 2001; Williams 2002). The implied freedom is limited to ‘political communication’, usually understood as discussions relating to matters which might bear on federal politics although the exact parameters of this term remain contested, and it includes non-verbal expression (Levy’s case 1997). However, an expression which constitutes political communication is not automatically protected speech. Governmental restrictions on speech, even political speech, are permitted where they occur as a result of a law which is reasonably appropriate and adapted to achieving another legitimate government end. The full expression of the ‘Lange test‘ in Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520 at 567, states that a law must be reasonably appropriate and adapted to serve a legitimate end the fulfillment of which is compatible with the maintenance of the constitutionally prescribed system of representative and responsible government.

In this climate, anti-vilification laws have experienced little, if any, constitutional or statutory impairment on free speech grounds. Unlike the United States, where attempts to restrict racist speech have typically fallen foul of First Amendment strictures[2], Australian anti-vilification laws have survived resistance from quarters emphasising free speech concerns (McNamara 2002). Although it has been argued that incidences of hate speech may constitute political communication as conceptualised under the implied constitutional freedom (Chesterman 2000b; Meagher 2004: 251-3), this does not render anti-vilification laws constitutionally invalid so long as the laws themselves are regarded as reasonable and appropriately adapted to a legitimate government end – such as minimising the attendant harms of vilification or discouraging its practice.

Thus, anti-vilification laws in Australia are highly unlikely to infringe on the constitutionally secured implied freedom of political expression. Although the High Court has yet to decide on the constitutionality of hate speech laws, respondents’ attempts to rely on the freedom in lower courts have failed. In particular, see Catch the Fire Ministries case (2006). Moreover, it is a relatively clearly established principle in the Australian context that principles of freedom of expression do not extend to the protection of vilificatory comments since the right to ‘engage in a robust discussion’[3] is not an untrammelled or an absolute right. In this context, the debate in Australia no longer primarily takes the form of regarding anti-vilification laws in and of themselves as an invalid infringement on freedom of speech. Of course, some commentators, still do position the debate in this way (see for example Savage 2006); however, in the current political climate moves to repeal such laws altogether are in the writer’s view extremely unlikely to find traction.

This aspect of the Australian legal context sets it somewhat apart from many other jurisdictions with which we share legal and political traditions. Most other jurisdictions protect free speech in more explicit terms. In the United States, this protection is robust enough to prevent many speech-restricting policies, even those beneficently intended, from being enacted. In Canada, the protection enunciated in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms s 2(b) is qualified by reasonable limits but nevertheless still explicitly enunciated. Even in the United Kingdom, the jurisdiction from which many of our common law traditions were inherited, the passage of the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated art 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law, enunciated the importance of freedom of speech explicitly.

The consensus in Australia that anti-vilification laws ought not to be rendered vulnerable by a too strongly protective, explicit free speech protection provides a constructive landscape within which more nuanced questions can be discussed. This moves the debate into more philosophically and empirically interesting territory than the standard ‘do hate speech laws impermissibly infringe on the free speech principle’ aspect of the debate.

The Australian regulatory landscape: a State/Territory overview

The aims of anti-vilification regulation are to:

  • impose minimum standards of acceptable speech; and
  • strike a balance between the right to a dignified and peaceful existence free from racist harassment and vilification and the right to freedom of speech (Regulation of the Media 2012).

In Australia, from a journalistic perspective, there are three source of anti-vilification regulation:

  • Self regulation – Codes of Practice (broadcasting), Reporting Guidelines (print)
  • State-based anti-vilification legislation
  • Commonwealth anti-vilification legislation (Regulation of the Media 2012).

This combination of self regulation of the media, together with both State-based and Commonwealth anti-vilification legislation that applies to everyone makes hate speech an area where there is a “complex mosaic of laws” (Power 2012).

Surveying this complex regulatory landscape allows for an examination of some of the questions posed earlier. In particular, what types of hate speech are targeted by existing laws can be assessed and who the hate speakers are and how their speech is manifested should come through from decisions by the regulators in this area.

Self regulation of the media industry

At the self regulatory level in the Australian newspaper industry, the Australian Press Council (APC) has made a special effort to educate newspapers and journalists on the reporting of ethnic issues. One of its key Reporting Guidelines, issued in September 2001, focuses on the reporting of race (Australian Press Council 2001).

More generally, the Australian Press Council’s General Statement of Principles, General Principle 8 states:

“General Principle 8: Gratuitous emphasis on characteristics

Publications should not place any gratuitous emphasis on the race, religion, nationality, colour, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age of an individual or group. Where it is relevant and in the public interest, publications may report and express opinions in these areas.”

Along with the APC’s Statement of Privacy Principles, the General Statement of Principles is applied by the Australian Press Council when providing advice or adjudicating on individual complaints.

An examination of some of the adjudications of the Australian Press Council, available digitally from 1976 onwards as a special project at the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLii), is instructive in how the Council has approached complaints related to vilification of some kind. Using the keyword searches of “vilification” and “racial” across the APC adjudications database yields some interesting decisions.

Case study: “the park people” of Cairns

Adjudication No. 802 (August 1995) [1995] APC 32

The Australian Press Council dismissed a complaint by the Tharpuntoo Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation that an article and two editorials in The Cairns Post were racist, discriminatory, inflammatory, wrong in some facts and, taken together, breached 8 of the Council’s 12 principles.

All three items dealt with a confidential agreement between Cairns City Council and the Tharpuntoo Legal Service (of Cairns) brokered by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Under this agreement an apology was made by the City Council to 24 homeless Aboriginals who had been living in Cairns Esplanade and parks and were bussed back to their Lockhart River area in May 1994 after months of controversy about law and order problems and the people’s presence on the Esplanade.

The Council believed the editorials were the major issue. These claimed no apology should have been agreed to, full terms of the agreement should have been made public, and that no compensation ought to be considered.

The issue of “the park people” – a Cairns Post term the Press Council did not agree was derogatory, as claimed by the Tharpuntoo Legal Service – was one that the complaint file showed to have stirred Cairns people greatly in recent times.

Analysis showed that while the editorials may or may not have had inaccuracies — the Press Council was in no position to judge beyond saying that if they existed the inaccuracies were minor — the writing was vigorous, thoughtful and pushed a legitimate point of view, even if occasionally that was done extravagantly or flamboyantly.

As it had in earlier judgments (Notably in Adjudication no. 569), the Press Council reaffirmed a newspaper has a clear right to express forthright editorial opinions.

The two editorials, while easily seen as capable of giving offence to some readers, contained no material that went beyond the paper’s right to make value judgments and to express its opinions boldly. No breach of Council principles was found to have occurred.

The Council said it believed it was important to note that editorials cannot be called racist or discriminatory simply because they deal with, and take a strong position on, controversial matters in which the main players indisputably are Aborigines.

Case study: “Asian gangs”

Adjudication No. 1195 (May 2003) [2003] APC 11

The Australian Press Council dismissed a complaint against The West Australian newspaper over a series of news reports following the death of a 21-year-old in a brawl between two gangs in a Perth entertainment area night club.

The paper several times referred to the rival groups, the M’Bros and the Spider Boys, as “Asian gangs”. The complainant, the president of the Unity Party of WA, agreed that the gangs were, indeed, predominantly of Asian origin. “It is a fact that these ‘Asian gangs’ are either Chinese or Vietnamese,” says the complainant, but he went on to charge that the use of the word Asian “invites racial vilification and racial hatred.”

The paper said that it had some sympathy with the feelings of the party president, Eddie Hwang, but disagreed with his view that relevant facts about issues of public importance should be suppressed to spare them.

The Press Council acknowledged the difficulty of news reports dealing with the misdeeds of groups who can readily be identified by reference to their ethnic or national origin. One of its principles states that such identification should not be used “unless the fact is relevant”.

In this case the existence of the problem of the M’Bros and Spider Boys gangs had been accepted by the WA Government and police. Police Minister Michelle Roberts and Police Commissioner Barry Matthews had both used the term “Asian gangs” to describe youths who had indulged in extreme violence.

The Press Council accepted that both the WA Government and the Police sought to avoid the use of the label “Asian”, but that did not remove the reality nor the need to reveal it where necessary. The Asian link, whether Vietnamese or Chinese, was relevant in the reports cited.

Case study: “Battie” 

Adjudication No. 1431 (July 2009) [2009] APC 18

The Australian Press Council dismissed a complaint by Alistair Kerr against an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald‘s gossip column PS and on its website,, on February 21, 2009.

The article made several assertions about the financial affairs of Mr Kerr and his partner, who now calls himself Lord Leitrim. Lord Leitrim had previously claimed to be Lord Andrew Battenberg, and is an undischarged bankrupt in Australia. He was originally known as Andrew Lee.

Mr Kerr complained that references in the article to Lord Leitrim, aka Lord Battenberg, as “Battie”, represented homophobic vilification of his partner. He asserted “anyone familiar with Gangsta Rap (ie. anyone under 50, and many over that age) will know that ‘Battie’ is a pidgin term of abuse for a gay man who plays the passive sexual role”.

The Council accepted that the newspaper used the abbreviation as a word play on the title Battenberg, without a sexual connotation.

Overall, the Australian Press Council adjudications show that issues such as any gratuitous emphasis on the race or country of origin of an individual or group have been contested quite frequently and that homosexual vilification complaints have been addressed.

Still in the self regulation sphere, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for the regulation of the broadcast media. Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the various broadcasting industry sectors set their own programming guidelines in the form of codes of practice. This system is explained on the ACMA’s website>. It has registered codes of practice for all broadcasting sectors other than the ABC and SBS, which have their own codes that are notified to the ACMA. The codes are:

– Commercial TV Code

– Commercial Radio Code

– ABC Code and

– SBS Code and

ACMA has powers to investigate code complaints, including those relating to vilification. Each of the codes of practice contains provisions “proscribing”, or denouncing, vilification.

For example, the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice provides:

“Proscribed Material

1.9       A licensee may not broadcast a program, program promotion, station identification or community service announcement which is likely, in all the circumstances, to:

1.9.5     seriously offend the cultural sensitivities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or of ethnic groups or racial groups in the Australian community;

1.9.6     provoke or perpetuate intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or group of persons on the grounds of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or sexual preference.” (Emphasis added)

The Commercial Radio Code similarly states:

“Proscribed Matter

1.1   A licensee must not broadcast a program which, in all of the circumstances:

(a) is likely to incite, encourage or present for its own sake violence or brutality;

(e) is likely to incite hatred against, or serious  contempt for, or severe ridicule of, any person or group of persons because of age, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preferences, religion, transgender status or disability.” (Emphasis added)


Alan Jones
Photo: Andrew Quilty

Case study: Cronulla riots

The world’s media chronicled the ugly side of Australia’s race relations in December 2005, when angry mobs in southern Sydney staged a protest then set upon youths of Middle Eastern appearance in an episode that became known as the ‘Cronulla riots’[4].

The role of the media in the lead-up to the riots, particularly that of talkback radio host Alan Jones, was questioned by the ABC’s Media Watch program in its 20 February 2006 edition (Media Watch 2006). Jones had already been vocal about Muslims and people of Lebanese origin, as evidenced by his comments earlier in 2005 which are featured in the Alan Jones case 2 (2009).

In the week before the Cronulla riots, Jones described two people who were accused of assaulting some lifeguards as ‘Middle Eastern grubs’ and two days later continued with:

“My suggestion is to invite one of the biker gangs to be present in numbers at Cronulla railway station when these Lebanese thugs arrive. It would be worth the price of admission to watch these cowards scurry back onto the train for the return trip to their lairs… Australians old and new shouldn’t have to put up with this scum.”

On ensuing days, Jones agreed with listeners who called for violent retribution against youths of Lebanese origin, all the subject of an inquiry by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) after three complaints (Media Watch 2006).

Throughout the week, Jones had read on air letters and emails from listeners that claimed that Middle Eastern visitors to Cronulla were dangerous. One letter read by Jones said: “These Middle Eastern people must be treated with a big stick; it’s the only thing they fear, they don’t fear fines and they laugh at the courts.”

On 10 April 2007 ACMA formally found that Jones’ comments had breached 2GB’s radio licence and the ‘Commercial Radio Codes of Practice’ (2004) on three separate occasions, as ‘likely to incite, encourage or present for its own sake violence or brutality,’ prohibited under clause 1.3(a) of the radio code, and materials ‘likely to  incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify’ those of Lebanese and Middle Eastern background on the basis of their ‘ethnicity’ prohibited under clause 1.3(e) (ACMA 2007).

This case study is very important to a discussion of hate speech and anti vilification regulation since it demonstrates that in a period in Australia’s history when racial tensions were high, a talk back radio announcer, Alan Jones, was at the centre of the debate, behaving in a manner found by the broadcast media regulator to have vilified people of Lebanese and Middle Eastern background and incited hatred. As to who are the hate speakers, this case clearly shows it to be Alan Jones.

State-based anti-vilification legislation

Turning from self regulation of the media to anti-vilification legislation, the hate speech laws in Australia give redress to someone who is the victim of discrimination, vilification, or injury on grounds that differ from one jurisdiction to another. All Australian jurisdictions give redress when a person is victimised on account of race. Some jurisdictions give redress when a person is victimised on account of colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

In 1989, by an amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, New South Wales became the first state to make it unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or group on the grounds of race. The amendment also created a criminal offence for inciting hatred, contempt or severe ridicule towards a person or group on the grounds of race by threatening physical harm (towards people or their property) or inciting others to threaten such harm. Prosecution of the offence of serious vilification requires consent from the Attorney-General and carries a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine or 6 months imprisonment for an individual—$100,000 for a corporation.

Since this time, anti-vilification laws have become an accepted and normal part of the Australian anti-discrimination policy framework. In every State and Territory[5], and federally[6], anti-vilification laws exist. The existence of these laws establishes that in Australia governments and communities view hate speech as an unacceptable form of expression which warrants government intervention to minimise its harms and/or occurrence. These laws prohibit vilification on several grounds. The primary ground is race, although in some jurisdictions some religious groups such as Jews or Sikhs have been considered to be protected under this category. New South Wales legislation includes the term ‘ethno-religious’ in its racial anti vilification legislation to convey this intention (Gelber 2005: 862-3). Only three jurisdictions (Qld, Tas and Vic) expressly include religion as a protected category under anti-vilification laws. Other specified grounds include sexuality (or homosexuality), disability, gender (or gender identity), HIV/AIDS status and transgender status.

Jurisdiction Race/ethnicity Religion Gender HIV/AIDS Transgender/gender identity Sexuality Homosexuality Disability
New South Wales        
South Australia              
Western Australia              
Australian Capital Territory        

* Table from ‘Common express grounds for complaint under Australian anti-vilification laws’ in Gelber K and Stone A, 2007, Hate speech and freedom of speech in Australia, November 2007, Federation Press.

The forms and penalties that these laws take differ considerably. Federally, and in Tasmania, only civil provisions have been enacted, whereas in Western Australia only criminal provisions are in force. In all other States and the Australian Capital Territory, both civil and criminal provisions apply.

Case study: Alan Jones case 1 (2000)

Western Aboriginal Legal Service Ltd v Jones and radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd [2000] NSWADT 102 (31 July 2000).

Sydney talkback radio host Alan Jones went to air in 1995 with commentary on a discrimination case that had been decided in favour of a Dubbo woman:

“…an Aboriginal woman went into a real estate agency in Dubbo last year, and wanted to rent a property and was told there weren’t any. And then the Aboriginal woman sent a white friend of hers in to ask for a property and she got one. So the Aboriginal woman argued discrimination and she got an award of six thousand dollars. Now I think that’s a joke.”

The Western Aboriginal Legal Service Ltd complained on behalf of Aboriginal people to the Anti-Discrimination Board and, after five years of procedural delays and equal opportunity hearings, the case came before the NSW Administrative Decision Tribunal’s Equal Opportunities Division. The case centred on the wording of the racial vilification provisions of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, mainly ss 20B and 20C, dealing with the definition of a ‘public act’ and the unlawfulness of racial vilification respectively.

The key finding of the Tribunal was that listeners who heard the segment of the broadcast would have associated the Aboriginality of the woman with the derogatory remarks Jones was making about her. Jones was found to have committed a public act (the broadcast) inciting the ordinary, reasonable listener to feel serious contempt for or sever ridicule for Aboriginal people in NSW on the ground of their race.

An award of damages was not available as a remedy because the legal service’s complaint was representative one only, so the Tribunal ordered that Jones broadcast an apology and send a letter of apology to the complainant.

Jones was fined $10,000 for a subsequent instance of racial vilification against Lebanese Muslims in 2009 (Alan Jones case 2, 2009), discussed following.

Case study: Alan Jones case 2 (2009)

Trad v Jones & anor (No. 3) [2009] NSWADT 318, Administrative Decisions Tribunal (21 December 2009).

For a number of days in April 2005, popular radio “talk-back” broadcaster and commentator, Alan Jones, made observations, expressed opinions and read letters and emails from listeners on his 2GB morning radio show which, taken as a whole, Mr Keyser Trad alleged constituted unlawful vilification of Muslims, Lebanese Muslims, Lebanese people and others.

Mr Trad alleged that segments of the broadcasts made by Mr Jones on 26, 27, 28 and 29 April incited listeners of the programs to hatred towards, or serious contempt for, amongst others, members of the Lebanese Muslim community living in New South Wales and that the broadcaster, Mr Jones, and the owner of the radio station, Harbour Radio Pty Ltd, thereby breached s 20C(1) of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).
The Tribunal accepted that talk-back radio derives its entertainment value from the fact that broadcasters such as Mr Jones are highly opinionated and that their opinions are expressed vigorously. It accepted that debate and discussion about current affairs are the bread-and-butter of talk-back radio. It accepted that talk-back broadcasters are advocates for causes, often of a populist nature.

Notwithstanding the peculiar qualities of talk-back radio, the Tribunal concluded that the broadcast in question by Mr Jones had the tendency or capacity to incite the ordinary, reasonable listener to hatred of, or serious contempt for, Lebanese Muslims and Lebanese males.

The Tribunal said it was difficult to think of a metaphor more calculated to arouse fear and loathing in a listener’s mind than to endorse a letter describing Lebanese Muslims (as Mr Jones insisted they were) as “vermin” who “in their vast numbers” were raping, pillaging and plundering the generous land that had offered them succour.

The Tribunal found that the broadcast in question not only conveyed the impression that Mr Jones held the Lebanese Muslim community and Lebanese males in deep contempt but also was capable of inciting the ordinary reasonable listener to feel serious contempt for both groups.

Jones was ordered to pay damages in the sum of $10,000. The Tribunal said an apology was  an appropriate order, notwithstanding the passage of time. Mr Trad had proposed a form of apology.

Case study: Kazak’s case (2000)

In this case the Australian Financial Review was found to have contravened the racial vilification provisions of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 by saying ‘the Palestinians cannot be trusted in the peace process’ and ‘the Palestinians remain vicious thugs’[7].

A public interest defence was not available because the publication was not reasonable or published in good faith, despite an Australian Press Council adjudication on the same article (Adjudication no. 1016), which found the article ‘was certainly vituperative but it was published as a clearly marked opinion piece.’

The decision was set aside on appeal (Kazak’s case, 2002) on the basis that the ordinary reasonable reader would not understand the article as an attack on the Palestinian people on the ground of their race, as opposed to an attack on the political leadership of Palestine on the ground of their intransigence and inconsistency in international politics, that is, on the ground of their conduct. It was held, in any event, the public interest defence would have been made out.

Case study: Homosexual Vilification – Burns v Radio 2UE, Laws and Price

Gay case (2004) and Laws case (2007)

In 2004, and again in 2007, activist Gary Burns took action in NSW under the anti-vilification provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). In the first case (Gay case 2004), involving a broadcast on radio 2UE Sydney, the complaint was sustained. Steve Price’s references to ‘grubby activities’ and ‘poofs’ verged ‘on the contemptuous’, while John Laws’ references to the homosexual couple as ‘a couple of old poofs’ and ‘a couple of young poofs’ were found capable of inciting severe ridicule am among ordinary reasonable listeners[8].

In ruling that the conduct was not reasonable, the tribunal noted that both Price and Laws were experienced journalists who were broadcasting under the ‘Commercial Radio Codes of Practice and Guidelines’, which contained similar anti-vilification provisions to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).

A second complaint in 2007 over remarks by Laws in 2004 which included calling the host of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a ‘pompous little pansy’, a ‘pillow-biting pompous little prig’ and a ‘precious little pansy’, were held to have vilified homosexuals, but to have done so within the good faith and public interest exception in s 49ZT(2) of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act (Laws case 2007).

Commentators have pointed out that the second Laws decision is difficult to reconcile with the earlier case[9].

Overall, these case studies of actions taken under state-based legislation highlight a definite pattern of hate speakers being “shock jock” radio journalists, such as Alan Jones (a repeat offender), John Laws and Steve Price. Targets are Aboriginal people, homosexuals, the Lebanese Muslim community and Lebanese males.

Commonwealth anti-vilification legislation

The relevant Commonwealth anti-vilification legislation is the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), which, at Part II, has broad prohibitions on racial discrimination in most walks of life. The Act makes it:

“unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person, or of some or all of the people in the group.”

An aggrieved person can lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission. If the complaint is validated, the Commission will attempt to conciliate the matter. If the Commission cannot negotiate an agreement which is acceptable to the complainant, the complainant’s only redress is through the Federal Court or through the Federal Magistrates Service.

Section 85ZE of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) makes it an offence to use the Internet to disseminate material intentionally that results in a person being menaced or harassed. This offence includes material communicated by email. Federal criminal law, therefore, is available to address racial vilification where the element of threat or harassment is also present, although it does not apply to material that is merely offensive.

Case study: The Holocaust case

In 2002, the Federal Court applied the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) in the landmark case of Jones v Toben. The case involved a complaint about a website which contained material that denied the Holocaust. The Federal Court ruled that the material was a violation of the Act.

Prominent Australian historical revisionist, founder and director of the Adelaide Institute Dr Frederick Toben published material to the institute’s website casting doubt that the Holocaust – the murder of hundreds and thousands of Jewish people in gas chambers during the Second World War – actually happened, and claiming some Jewish people had exaggerated facts about it for financial gain. The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Mr Jeremy Jones, won a finding in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission that the publication breached Part II of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. He applied to the Federal Court asking that the commission’s determination be enforced. Toben was subsequently found guilty of contempt, and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment: an appeal was unsuccessful (Toben v Jones 2009).

Dr Toben had already been imprisoned in Germany in 2000 under strict defamation laws for publishing similar material on the Internet.

Federal Court Justice Branson ordered the offending material be taken off the website and issued an order that similar material not be posted there again.

Case study: Bolt case

In September 2010, nine individuals commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against Bolt and the Herald Sun over two separate posts on Bolt’s blog. The nine sued over posts titled “It’s so hip to be black“, “White is the New Black” and “White Fellas in the Black“. The articles suggested it was fashionable for “fair-skinned people” of diverse ancestry to choose Aboriginal racial identity for the purposes of political and career clout. The applicants claimed the posts breached the Racial Discrimination Act. They sought an apology, legal costs, and a gag on republishing the articles and blogs, and “other relief as the court deems fit”. They did not seek damages.

Bolt wrote that ”white Aborigines” were ”people who, out of their multi-stranded but largely European genealogy, decide to identify with the thinnest of all those strands, and the one that’s contributed least to their looks” (Kissane 2011).

On 28 September 2011 Bolt was found to have contravened s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). Section 18C provides:

“Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

(1)  It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group. ”

“I am satisfied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them) were reasonably likely … to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed by the newspaper articles,” Justice Bromberg said to a packed courtroom in Melbourne.

“This is a terrible day for free speech in this country”, Bolt said, after the decision was handed down.

These two case studies, the Holocaust case and the Bolt case, show that extremist comments that have the potential to be blatantly offensive to a racial group run the risk of breaching this Commonwealth legislation. Journalists going about their normal business of reportage will normally be protected by the public interest exemptions to the legislation in s 18D, but Bolt’s case was a test of the balance between free speech and protection from offence. This time, Justice Bromberg came down in favour of racial tolerance.


In Australia, currently a formal commitment to combat hate speech has been expressed at State/Territory and federal levels, and this commitment ought not to be taken for granted. For it is always possible that the “understandings we take for granted today may be overturned tomorrow”[10].

It is undeniable that hate speech continues to manifest. Examples such as much of the language heard during the Cronulla race riots in December 2005 in which disputes between local residents of Anglo heritage and would-be beachgoers of Middle eastern descent spiralled in several days of violent clashes characterised by assaults, expressions of white pride and virulently racist expressions are a significant case in point. The Cronulla events were not isolated. In 2003, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board released a report which argued that debates in the media about the war on terror, asylym seekers and crime had led to a ‘damaging environment of anti-Arabic and anti-Muslim sentiment’ (NSW ADB 2003). A HREOC report in 2004 also noted that levels of discrimination and intimidation amongst Islamic communities had increased since 11 September 2001 (HREOC 2004: ch 2).

For those that believe that measures designed to combat hate speech ought to be defended, it is important therefore that the terms of the debate be understood as well as possible.


Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Broadcasting industry Codes of Practice:

–Commercial TV Code

–Commercial Radio Code

–ABC Code and

–SBS Code and

Australian Press Council, Guideline: Reporting of ‘race’ (September 2001),

Australian Press Council, General Statement of Principles, August 2011 

Australian Press Council adjudications 1976-

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, entry into force 23 March 1976.

Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, entry into force 23 March 1976.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Article 2.1 and Article 4.

Australian Human Rights Commission, Racial Discrimination

Australian Human Rights Commission, Cyber Racism


AAP, 2004, ‘Laws and price to appeal homophobia ruling’, Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2004, <–Radio/Laws-and-Price-to-appeal-homophobia-ruling/2004/11/22/1100972314082.html>.

AAP, 2004, ‘Anti-gay complaints against Laws and Price upheld’, Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2004, <>.

ABC News, 2006a, ‘Books Banned for Inciting Holy War, Terrorism’, ABC News online,>.

ABC News, 2006b, ‘Aboriginal Girl Faces Racial Vilification Charges’, ABC News online,>.

ABC News, 2011, “Bolt defends articles in discrimination case”, 29 March 2011, <>.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), 2007, Breakfast with Alan Jones broadcast by 2GB on 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 December 2005. Investigation Report No. 1485. <>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.

Australian Press Council, Adjudication No. 802 (August 1995) [1995] APC 32, <>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

Australian Press Council, Adjudication No. 802 (August 1995) [1995] APC 32, <>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

Australian Press Council, Adjudication No .1431 (July 2009) [2009] APC 18, <>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

Chesterman M, 2000a, Freedom of Speech in Australian Law: A Delicate Plant?, Ashgate, Aldershot.

Chesterman M, 2000b, ‘When is the Communication political?’, 14(2) Legislative Studies 5.

“freedom of speech” Australian Law Dictionary. .© Oxford University Press 2010. Australian Law Dictionary: (e-reference edition). Oxford University Press. University of Technology, Sydney. 25 May 2012

Gelber K and Stone A, 2007, Hate speech and freedom of speech in Australia, November 2007, Federation Press.

Gelber K, 2003, ‘Pedestrian Malls, Local Government and Free Speech Policy in Australia’, 22(2) Policy and Society: Journal of Public, Foreign and Global Policy 23.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 2005, Annual Report 2005-2005: Racial Discrimination Act – Complaints Received by Ground.

King D, 2006, ‘Pillow-Biter Comment Just an Attempt at Humour, says Laws’, The Australian, 17 February, p 1.

Kissane K, 2010,“Case against Bolt to test racial identity, free-speech limits”. The Age, 30 September, <>.

McDiarmid N, 2006, ‘No precedent for First Racial Vilification Trial for WA’, Courier-Mail, 3 August, p 6.

McNamara, L, 2002, Regulating Racism: Racial Vilification Laws in Australia, Sydney Institute of Criminology Monograph Series No 16, Sydney.

Media Watch, 20 February 2006, ‘Jones and Cronulla’, ABC,>.

Nguyen K, 2007, ‘Jones ‘incited’ Cronulla violence on air’, The Age, April 11, 2007, <>.

Nicholls S and Jensen E, 2009, ‘Jones hearing gets curiouser’, Sydney Morning Herald, May 12, 2009, <–radio/jones-hearing-gets-curiouser/2009/05/12/1241893959337.html>.

New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board, 2003, Race for the Headlines: Racism and Media Discourse, Executive Summary.

Patapan H, 2000, Judging Democracy: The New Politics of the High Court of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

Pearson M and Polden M, 2011, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, 4th edition, Allen & Unwin.

Power L, 2012, ‘Hate Speech and Racial Vilification’ Lecture, 22 May 2012.

Quinn K, 2011, ‘Andrew Bolt – Herald Sun columnist guilty of race discrimination” The Age, 28 September 2011, <>.

Regulation of the Media, 2012, ‘Hate Speech and Racial Vilification’ Lecture, 22 May 2012.

Osbourne P, 2006, ‘”Terror books” off the shelves’, Courier-Mail, 12 July, p 25.

Savage R, 2006, Repeal this law with its Fundamental Flaws’, Herald Sun, 11 May, p 1.

Stone A, 2001, ‘Rights, Personal Rights and Freedoms: the Nature of the Freedom of Political Communication’ 25 Melbourne University Law Review 374.

Wallace, R, 2006, ‘Jewish Fury at Baillieu Stance’, The Australian, 11 August, p 1.

Welch D, 2007, ‘Jones loses vilification hearing’, The Age, 10 April, <>.

Williams G, 2002, Human Rights Under the Australian Constitution, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Wikipedia, ‘Hate speech laws in Australia’, <>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.

Wikipedia, ‘Andrew Bolt’, <>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.

Wikipedia, ‘Hate speech laws in the United Kingdom’, <>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.

Wikipedia, ‘Freedom of speech’, <>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.


Alan Jones case 1 (2000). Western Aboriginal Legal Service Ltd v Jones and radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd [2000] NSWADT 102 (31 July 2000).

Alan Jones case 2 (2009). Trad v Jones & anor (No. 3) [2009] NSWADT 318, Administrative Decisions Tribunal (21 December 2009),>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.

Bolt case (2011). Eatock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103 (28 September 2011),>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

Catch the Fire Ministries case (2004). Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch the Fire Ministries Inc [2004] VCAT 2510 at [10], <>, and Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch the Fire Ministries Inc (Anti Discrimination – Remedy) [2005] VCAT 1159 (22 June 2005),>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

Gay case (2004). Burns v Radio 2UE Sydney [2004] NSWADT 267,>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

The Holocaust cases. Jones v Toben [2002] FCA 1150, Toben v Jones [2003] FCAFC 137 (27 June 2003) and Toben v Jones [2009] FCAFC 104 (13 August 2009).

Kazak’s cases. Kazak v John Fairfax Publications Ltd [2000] NSWADT 77 and John Fairfax Publications Ltd v Kazak (EOD) [2002] NSWADTAP 35 (25 October 2002).

Lange’s case (1997). Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520, <>, Accessed 25 May 2012.

Laws case (2007). Administrative Decisions Tribunal Equal Opportunity Division (No 2) [2007] NSWADT 47.

Levy’s case (2007). Levy v Victoria (1997) 189 CLR 579.


Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)

Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)


Flahvin A, 1995, “Can legislation prohibiting hate speech be justified in light of free speech principles?”, (1995) 18(2) University of New South Wales Law Journal 327.

Johns L, 1995, “Racial Vilification and ICERD in Australia”, (April 1995) 2(1) Murdoch University Law E-Journal.

Kinney, T A, 2008, “Hate Speech and Ethnophaulisms”. The International Encyclopedia of Communication. Blackwell Reference Online. doi:10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x.>, Retrieved 21 May 2012.

Mahoney K, 1994, “Hate Vilification Legislation and Freedom of Expression: Where is the Balance?”, (1994) 1(1) Australian Journal of Human Rights 353.

Marr D, 1999, “Equal rights, not gay rights”, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 January 1999.

McNamara L, “A profile of racial vilification complaints lodged with the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board”, (1997) 2 International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 349.

Nockleby J T, 2000, “Hate Speech,” in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  Ed. Leonard W. Levy and Kenneth L. Karst. Vol. 3. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. p. 1277-1279.

Urofsky M, 1995, “The law of hate speech”, (Spring 1995) 15(1) Communication Law Bulletin 13.

Puddephatt A, 2005, Freedom of Expression, The essentials of Human Rights, Hodder Arnold, 2005, pg.128


[1] More recently, emerging State/Territory charters of rights have begun to change this landscape.

[2] See for example REV v City of St Paul 505 US 377 (1992); Skokie v Nationalist Socialist Party 373 NE 2d 21 (1978).

[3] Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch the Fire Ministries Inc [2004] VCAT 2510 at [10].

[4] Pearson and Polden M, 2011, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, 4th edition, Allen & Unwin, pp 330-331.

[5] Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) ss 20B-20D, 38R-38T, 49ZS-49ZTA, 49ZXA-49ZXC; Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) ss 124A, 1321A; Racial Vilification Act 1996 (SA); Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) ss 17(1), 19; Racial and  Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic); Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT); Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT); Criminal Code (WA) ss 76-80H (as amended in 2004).

[6] Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) ss 18B-18F.

[7] Pearson and Polden M, 2011, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, 4th edition, Allen & Unwin.

[8] Pearson and Polden M, 2011, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, 4th edition, Allen & Unwin.

[9] Ibid, p 339.

[10] Gelber K and Stone A, 2007, Hate speech and freedom of speech in Australia, November 2007, Federation Press, p 16.

Linda Daniele

MA (Journalism) candidate, UTS


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 618 other followers