Victoria has introduced nation-leading legislation to ban the public display of the Nazi* swastika.
Under the Nazi Symbol Prohibition Bill, which was introduced by the state government on May 11, it will be a crime for a person to intentionally display the Nazi symbol in public.
Doing so could lead to fines of almost $22,000, 12 months imprisonment or both once the legislation is in effect.
It means Victoria will become the first Australian jurisdiction* to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika.
Anti-Defamation* Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said there was a “Nazi swastika epidemic” in Victoria, describing it as battle between “good and evil”.
“We have a Nazi swastika epidemic in this state,” he said. “Not a day goes by where we’re not seeing it graffitied or online or seeing it being sent through the mail or email.
“For a Holocaust* survivor to see a Nazi swastika graffitied or vandalised, it is as threatening as being faced with a gun. It tears a hole through their heart.”
Dr Abramovich called the announcement an “uplifting” and “triumphant” moment for all Victorians.
“A democracy* is not just about the rights that we have, it’s about what we are willing to tolerate,” he said.
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said Nazi and neo-Nazi* ideology* had no place in Victoria.
“The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history – its public display does nothing but cause further pain and division,” she said.
“As a government we want to do all we can to stamp out hate and give it no room to grow.
“Banning the Nazi symbol sends a clear message that this vile* behaviour will not be tolerated in Victoria.”
State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy showed his support for the legislation, calling it “good” but “overdue” news.
The swastika symbol has been used by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains to represent good luck and prosperity* for centuries. But a right-facing form was adopted by the Nazi Party in Germany in the 1930s, and since World War II and the Holocaust been associated with racism and hatred.
The Victorian ban does not include Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other faith communities that use the swastika for religious and cultural reasons.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion said his organisation worked together with the Justice Department to have conversations with people in those communities while the legislation was being prepared.
“We think the legislation strikes a fair balance between banning a symbol of hate … and the right of those faith and cultural groups to proudly and safely practice their religions and demonstrate their symbols,” he said.
A community education campaign will be run to raise awareness of the origins of the religious and cultural swastika, its importance to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities and to distinguish it from the Nazi symbol.
The government said the legislation would come into effect a year after the Bill was passed in parliament to allow time for the education campaign.
Exceptions will also be in place for the “appropriate” use of the Nazi swastika in education, media and museums.
At this stage only the Nazi swastika, known as hakenkreuz in German, will be banned, but the government said it might consider including other symbols at a later stage.
- Nazi: political party that controlled Germany under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945
- jurisdiction: an area where a particular set of laws or rules must be followed
- defamation: when something is said or written that unfairly damages the reputation of someone
- Holocaust: the murder of six million Jewish people by the Nazis in World War II
- democracy: system of government where people have equality and freedom, including the power to elect their government representatives
- neo-Nazi: a new group with beliefs inspired by Hitler’s Nazis
- ideology: a set of ideas and beliefs
- vile: wicked, despicable
- prosperity: being successful
- Which state has announced plans to ban the Nazi swastika?
- What will be the possible penalties for displaying the Nazi swastika in public?
- What have Buddhists, Hindus and Jains used the symbol to represent for centuries?
- Will these and other faith communities be still be able to use the symbol?
- Why will the legislation come into effect a year after the Bill is passed?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Write a letter
This legislation is for Victoria only. Write a letter to the leaders of the other states and territories in Australia. The purpose of your letter is to convince them to pass a similar law in their state or territory.
Time: Allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History, Personal and Social Capability, Civics and Citizenship
Design a poster that could be part of the education campaign. The purpose of your poster is to help other kids understand the difference between the symbol used by the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities, which is appropriate, and the Nazi swastika, which is illegal.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History, Civics and Citizenship
To sum it up
After reading the article, use your comprehension skills to summarise in a maximum of three sentences what the article is about.
- What is the main topic or idea?
- What is an important or interesting fact?
- Who was involved (people or places)?
Use your VCOP skills to re-read your summary to make sure it is clear, specific and well punctuated.