The complaint of racial vilification, lodged on Monday with the Human Rights Commission against the multinational suppliers of 'Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D', is made under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
The complainants include poet Ken Canning, filmmaker and rights campaigner Sam Watson, climate campaigner Larissa Baldwin, student Murrawah Watson, former NRL player and suicide-prevention youth worker Joe Williams, and Georgia Mantle, who started a change.org petition against the game in January.
'Given the history of the massacres of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, I find such a game to be highly offensive.'
In a statement released on Monday, Mr Canning says, "I am 63 years of age and have had first-hand experience of violence against Our Peoples. Given the history of the massacres of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, I find such a game to be highly offensive."
'Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D', developed by NIL Entertainment, was made available worldwide online including for download in Australia via a number of app stores including Apple iTunes, Amazon, and Google Playstore.
In a press release issued on Monday, the group behind the complaint says that it hopes that by taking this action it will help clarify whether making available games of this kind is acceptable under Australian law.
"The game creators and developers are located overseas and it is not suggested that they are affiliated in any way with the companies that are subject to the complaint. The basis of the complaint is that companies that have provided or are providing access to the App have made available material that contravenes the RDA," the statement said.
The complainants seek to compel Apple, Google and Facebook to:
- modify their policies and procedures to ensure that they do not make apps/games available on their platforms which contain material that is likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the basis of race.
- publicly denounce NIL Entertainment for developing the Game.
- publicly apologise to Indigenous Australians for making the Game available on their platforms and services.
- make a donation to an Indigenous charity that educates the wider Australian community about issues related to cultural pride.
The group is also asking Facebook to remove the Group Page 'Survival Island 3 Hunt the Aborigines.' Mr Canning had written to Facebook to request that it voluntarily remove the Group Page but Facebook responded that it did not contravene its community standards.
The group is being represented by a prominent pro bono legal team including Sydney barrister Craig Leggat SC and instructed by human rights lawyer Benedict Coyne from law firm Boe Williams Anderson.
'Whilst there has been significant controversy and misconception about the scope and application of section 18C in recent years, our law entitles people in our country to take action ... '
Mr Coyne said, "My clients have launched their claim under section 18C of the RDA alleging that the app is offensive, humiliating and intimidating on the basis of race and that its promotion should not be supported in the public domain. It is hoped that this action will assist in defining the bounds where free speech ends and where racial vilification begins.
"Whilst there has been significant controversy and misconception about the scope and application of section 18C in recent years, our law entitles people in our country to take action where public statements or content goes beyond free speech and enters the realms of racial vilification.
"It is important that we reflect on the intergenerational trauma of Indigenous Australians. The RDA seeks to protect vulnerable and marginalised minorities from racially based offensive, insulting and humiliating conduct by publicly outing such malicious mischief and sending a strong and educative message to the broader Australian community that racism is not acceptable in a civilised country such as ours."