Giridharan Sivaraman Named Australia's New Race Discrimination Commissioner

The lawyer has worked extensively in the multicultural space, advocating for the rights of racially marginalised communities.

 Giridharan Sivaraman

The Australian Human Rights Commission has named Giridharan Sivaraman as the new Race Discrimination Commissioner for the next five years.

Currently the Chair of Multicultural Australia, and a Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn (as the head of the firm's Queensland Employment Law department), Sivaraman will commence his new role on Monday, March 4 and says that feeling "honoured is an understatement".

"I'm also incredibly excited, slightly terrified, and can't wait to start," Sivaraman wrote on LinkedIn. "My 95 year old grandmother called me this morning and told me this was the opportunity of a lifetime, that combined two of my greatest passions – enabling prosperous multicultural societies, and using the law to help others. Wise words from a wise woman."

The Race Discrimination Commissioner is "responsible for combatting all forms of racial discrimination, and promoting understanding, tolerance and harmony across all sectors of Australian society". Mr Chin Tan has held this role since 2018, and Dr Tim Soutphommasane in the five years prior to that (from 2013 to 2018).

Throughout his career, Sivaraman has worked extensively in the multicultural space, advocating for First Nations peoples' rights, and demanding legal reform to better protect the rights of victims of racial vilification.

He has spearheaded several state and national race discrimination cases and led the pro bono compensation scheme for underpaid 7-Eleven workers, many of whom came from migrant backgrounds.

Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, welcomed Sivaraman's appointment, saying he will be a "powerful asset" to the Commission.

"There has been a marked increase in reports of racism and hate speech in recent months, and it is therefore vital that we amplify efforts to empower communities to address racism at its root causes and continue our public campaign to take action to combat racism," Professor Croucher said in an official press release.

"This is difficult but critical work to do, and Commissioner Sivaraman will lead the way in this area, as we help make Australia a more respectful and equitable place for all people, regardless of their background."