Taxi industry tackling racism

The VTA has recently signed up as a supporter of the "RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME" campaign launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

VTA campaign supporter

The Victorian Taxi Association has recently signed up as a supporter of the "RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME" campaign. The Australian Human Rights Commission launched the campaign to make sure Australians recognise that racism is unacceptable in our community, to give the community the tools to take practical action against racism, and to empower individuals and organisations to prevent and respond effectively to racism.

The Victorian taxi industry is diverse and provides an important service to the wider community. Our behaviour reflects all of us. You will see taxi-back panels and other signs showing our support of the campaign hitting the streets soon.

Across Australia, there are people and organisations doing great things to reduce and prevent racism. We believe that we too can create a culture where people are able to identify racism and have the confidence and tools to act appropriately when it does occur.


The Victorian taxi industry is made up of a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds. We are proud of this multicultural mix.  According to the 2011 Census, the total population of Victoria was 5,354,039 people.

  • 26.2% of Victorians were born overseas in more than 200 countries.
  • 46.8% of Victorians were either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.
  • 23.1% of Victorians spoke a language other than English at home.
  • 67.7% of Victorians followed 135 faiths.

Reflecting recent trends in migration to Victoria, the overseas-born from North Africa and the Middle East, South-East Asia and North-East Asia, have increased in both absolute numbers and as a proportion of the total.

The 2011 Census also revealed increasing diversity in languages other than English spoken at home. The number of people speaking languages other than English in Victoria increased from 1.00 million in 2006 to 1.23 million in 2011.

The three dominant religions – Western Catholic, Anglican Church and Uniting Church - did not change significantly since the 2006 census. The other top ranking religions, while not as numerous as the Christian faiths that experienced significant growth rates were: Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.

The Racial Discrimination Act

Forty-one years ago, the Commonwealth Parliament enacted the first federal human rights and discrimination legislation. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) was a landmark in Australian race relations. It was a legislative expression of a commitment to multiculturalism and it reflected the ratification by Australia of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

A report released last year showed the experience of racial discrimination continues to affect many Australians, in spite of our success as a multicultural society. It is a complex situation – not due to any one reason, not confined to any particular setting and not limited to only one section of the community. It is something that can be overt as well as covert, easy to see individual acts or less obvious in institutional form.

The Act plays an important role in opposing racial prejudice and discrimination, whether as an instrument for making complaints or as a tool of community advocacy.

The vision of the Australian Human Rights Commission is for Human rights: everyone, everywhere, everyday.

They aim to lead the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia by:

  • making human rights values part of everyday life and language;
  • empowering all people to understand and exercise their human rights;
  • working with individuals, community, business and government to inspire action;
  • keeping government accountable to national and international human rights standards;

They do this by:

  • listening, learning, communicating and educating;
  • being open, expert, committed and impartial;
  • fostering a collaborative, diverse, flexible, respectful and innovative workplace.

Their statutory responsibilities include:

  • education and public awareness;
  • discrimination and human rights complaints;
  • human rights compliance;
  • policy and legislative development.

They do this through:

  • resolving complaints of discrimination or breaches of human rights under federal laws;
  • holding public inquiries into human rights issues of national importance;
  • developing human rights education programs and resources for schools, workplaces and the community;
  • providing independent legal advice to assist courts in cases that involve human rights principles;
  • providing advice and submissions to parliaments and governments to develop laws, policies and programs;
  • undertaking and coordinating research into human rights and discrimination issues.

Our behavior reflects all of us

Taxi drivers in Victoria can only refuse to take a passenger for a very specific set of reasons. These rules are clearly set out in the regulations and include if the passenger is violent or otherwise offensive, carrying something which cannot be safely transported or is unable to demonstrate a capacity to pay the fare if asked by the driver.

To refuse a fare for any other reason is completely unacceptable. To do it on the basis of race is abhorrent and will not be tolerated by the taxi industry in Victoria.

More than 85% of Victorian taxi drivers come from culturally diverse backgrounds and regularly deal with issues of racism directed towards them. For this reason it is an issue we take very seriously. We do not accept this behaviour as acceptable in any way and are keen to spread the message of harmony to the wider community.

Regulation 36 Passenger behaviour

(1) The driver of a taxi-cab may refuse to carry, or to continue to carry, a person in the taxi-cab if, in the opinion of the driver—

(a) the person is violent, noisy, misbehaving, filthy or offensive; or

(b) the person is in possession of an item which is not able to be safely and securely accommodated within the taxi-cab.

Regulation 41 Capacity to pay

(7) The driver of a taxi-cab may refuse to carry, or to continue to carry, (as the case requires) a hirer and any person accompanying the hirer if the hirer—

(a) does not demonstrate to the driver's reasonable satisfaction that the hirer is able to pay the amount of the estimate of the fare for the hiring; or

(b) does not pay a deposit required under subregulation (4) or (5).

Taken from Transport (Buses, Taxi-Cabs and Other Commercial Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005 

Australian Human Rights Commission
General enquiries and publications: 1300 369 711


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