18C complainant reports ’racist’ online abuse to federal police


EXCLUSIVE: An Aboriginal woman at the centre of a controversial 18C racial discrimination case has referred thousands of threatening and abusive online and social media posts to the Australian Federal Police.

A court will tomorrow hear an application for leave to appeal against the dismissal of the racial discrimination case last month, involving three students and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Fallout from the case prompted the federal government to set up an inquiry into changing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Traumatised and emerging from hiding, former QUT employee Cindy Prior reported a dossier of continuing online threats and abuse to federal police in Brisbane.

“The comments that have been uploaded we think contravenes federal law,” Ms Prior’s lawyer Susan Moriarty told SBS.

“Thousands of these comments breach the Act which makes it an offence to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.”

The maximum penalty under the Federal Criminal Code is three years imprisonment.

The dossier consists of 5,000 pages containing 25,000 online and social media posts.

“They're pejorative, they're threatening, they're abusive, racist, homicidal, hoping she's bankrupted, hoping she's maimed,” said Ms Moriarty.

The dossier forms part of Ms Prior's application for leave to appeal against the dismissal of her case in the Federal Circuit Court in November and awarding $200,000 in costs against her.

Publicity over the18C racial discrimination case has seen the widowed mother-of-three under sustained attack.

“I have no regrets about making the (original) complaint because racism is unacceptable,” said Ms Prior.

“To have people say you're nothing but an ‘Abo’ and you don't deserve anything, it's demeaning,” said Ms Prior, who now lives and works in a secret location away from Brisbane.

“I have no regrets about making the (original) complaint because racism is unacceptable.”

The abuse and threats of physical harm are far worse than what the original court case involving QUT and the students was about.

“Inciting people to tear Cindy's ovaries out and to pour gasoline on them so she can't breed, they're of a virulence that, if that's doesn't satisfy racial hatred, I don't know what does,” said Ms Moriarty.

Ms Prior in 2013 informed three non-Indigenous students they were in a computer lab in a Queensland University of Technology Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander studies area.

“I was polite, I didn't want to embarrass them in front of everybody,” Ms Prior said.

“I didn't ask them to leave and explained to them that it was an Indigenous space and there were other places in the university where they could use a computer.”

Comments in response on Facebook led her to make a racial vilification complaint under 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act making it unlawful to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" on the basis of race.

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