In the last two days, two reports have been released (or re-released) that I would like to mention.
Firstly, the Hillsborough Independent Panel released their long-awaited report into the Hillsborough disaster of 1989. The extensive examination of the archival record of the various agencies involved in the events of 15 April, 1989, released by special request of the Home Secretary in spite of the 30 year rule imposed on government records by the Public Records Act, has uncovered a wealth of information that gives us the clearest possible overview of what occurred that day. The report has found that a number of transgressions were perpetrated by the authorities to put the onus of what happened on the football fans, rather than the actions of the South Yorkshire Police and the emergency services. The Panel’s website, with access to the documents and the final report, can be found here.
There is reason to believe that the systematic archival research and analysis conducted by the Panel may serve as a framework for future inquiries.
Secondly, Andrew Zammit, a researcher with the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, has been able to get the National Inquiry into Racist Violence, conducted by Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1991, digitised and put on the web, freely available to everyone. The report can be found on the Australian Policy Online website. This was the first national inquiry into racist violence in Australia and was important in acknowledging the extent of racist violence in Australia at the time, as well as instrumental in the Keating Government drafting racial vilification legislation in the mid-1990s.
The inquiry was established in 1988 following a series of well organised attacks against church and community leaders, as well as complaints from Indigenous people and ethnic community groups.
Despite intimidation and the fear of retaliation, almost 1,000 people came forward to give evidence.
The inquiry found racist violence against Indigenous Australians was endemic, nation-wide and severe, with racist attitudes and practices ingrained in many institutions. Racist violence on the basis of ethnicity, while not as extreme as in other countries, was also a serious concern.
A key recommendation of the Inquiry’s report was the need for legal protection against racial hatred. In 1995 the Racial Discrimination Act was amended to make racial vilification against the law.
Thanks should be extended to Andrew for his efforts in getting this report digitised and available online.