Melbourne, Feb 6 (IANS) Indian-origin employment lawyer Giridharan Sivaraman has been appointed Race Discrimination Commissioner by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
Sivaraman is currently the Chair of Multicultural Australia, and a Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn where he is head of the firm’s Queensland Employment Law department.
“I’m honoured to be appointed Commonwealth Race Discrimination Commissioner. And excited, and slightly terrified! But there is so much work to be done and I can’t wait to work with the team at the @AusHumanRights,” Sivaraman wrote in a post on X on Monday.
According to the AHRC, he has run numerous 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.
In addition, he provides advice and legal representation in all areas of employment law including workplace bullying, employment contracts, redundancy, restraint of trade, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, adverse action, and unfair dismissal.
Welcoming the appointment, AHRC President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher said that the fight for systemic equality and speaking truth to power have been at the heart of Sivaraman’s work.
“His distinguished legal career has seen him lead significant cases in workplace and discrimination law, which, coupled with his public advocacy for the rights for racially marginalised communities, has led to tangible results that have improved and empowered people’s lives,” Croucher said.
According to the Commission president, the appointment comes at a time when there has been a marked increase in reports of racism and hate speech in recent months.
Calling him a “widely respected champion of racial equity”, Croucher hoped Sivaraman would help make Australia a more respectful and equitable place for all people, regardless of their background.
“His lived experience, passion for diversity and inclusion, and deep understanding of human rights and Australian discrimination law means he will be a powerful asset for the Commission during what is very much a delicate time in the country,” she said.
As a member of the Queensland Multicultural Advisory Council, Sivaraman appeared at a state parliamentary inquiry to demand legal reform to better protect the rights of victims of racial vilification.
His work with Multicultural Australia oversees the continued and extensive support provided to new arrivals in Queensland, and in his advocacy, he also committed to the protection and promotion of the rights of First Nations peoples.
Sivaraman will commence his role on March 4.