Online Abuse Towards Indigenous Australians Is On The Rise Ahead Of The Voice Referendum

voice to parliament
CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses suicide and racism.

Cyber abuse directed towards Indigenous Australians has been on the rise for the first half of this year and unfortunately, it’s only expected to increase further ahead of the Voice to Parliament referendum.

While a date for the Voice to Parliament referendum is yet to be announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant told The Australian that the online abuse received by Indigenous Australians is only increasing.

“ESafety has recorded a small but noticeable rise in the proportion of adult cyber abuse complaints from First Nations people in the first half of this year,” Inman Grant told The Australian.

Grant made a point that not all complaints are associated with the Voice to Parliament, but that they “anticipate” more instances of abuse in the lead up to the referendum date.

“Any increase in reports by First Nations people of online harm is highly concerning, not least because the level of online abuse they experience is already significantly higher than average.”

A Yes23 campaign spokesman said that “Indigenous Australians have been carrying a heavy personal load as this campaign has progressed.”

He continued:

“People should be able to express their views without being subject to racial abuse. The yes campaign urges everyone to engage in a respectful discussion on the merits of this constitutional change.”

Online abuse is never OK and is extremely dangerous for those on the receiving end.

Last month Warren Mundine — Indigenous businessman and No campaigner — opened up about his planned suicide attempts after copping ongoing abuse on social media, including racism.

“I’ve ignored it but it’s become a tsunami of abuse, not by one or two people but by heaps of people every day, people you would think who would have more common sense,” Mundine said, as per The Australian.

The eSafety commission is working with agencies to combat the issue and remove dangerous and harmful cyber abuse as quickly as possible.

“In March this year, eSafety released a new package of resources to address the most prominent types of online abuse First Nations people face so they can continue accessing the benefits of being online, while reducing the risks,” Inman Grant said.

It’s a good thing that measures are being taken, but it’s seriously awful that anyone abuses another person online. Do better.

You can read more about the Voice to Parliament referendum and what it means for Indigenous Australians here.