Melbourne, Feb 6 (IANS) Indian-origin labor lawyer Giridharan Sivaraman has been appointed Racial Discrimination Commissioner by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
Sivaraman is currently the Chair of Multicultural Australia and a senior lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, where he is the head of the firm’s Queensland Employment Law department.
“I’m honored to be appointed Commonwealth Race Discrimination Commissioner. And excited, and a little terrified! But there’s a lot of work to do and I can’t wait to work with the @AusHumanRights team,” Sivaraman wrote in a post at X on Monday.
According to the AHRC, he has led numerous state and national racial discrimination cases and spearheaded the pro bono compensation scheme for low-paid 7-11 workers, many of whom are from migrant backgrounds.
In addition, he provides legal advice and representation in all areas of employment law, including workplace harassment, employment contracts, dismissal, restraint of trade, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, adverse actions and unfair dismissal.
Welcoming the appointment, AHRC Chair Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher said fighting for systemic equality and speaking truth to power had been at the heart of Sivaraman’s work.
“His distinguished legal career has seen him lead important cases in workplace and discrimination law, which, along with his public advocacy of the rights of racially marginalized communities, has produced tangible results that have improved and empowered people’s lives,” Croucher said.
According to the President of the Commission, the appointment comes at a time when in recent months there has been a noticeable increase in allegations of racism and hate speech.
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 to the Commission during what is a very sensitive time for the country.” , he said.
As a member of Queensland’s Multicultural Advisory Council, Sivaraman appeared at a state parliamentary inquiry to demand legal reform to better protect the rights of victims of racial defamation.
His work with Multicultural Australia oversees the ongoing and extensive support provided to newcomers to Queensland and, in advocacy, he was also committed to protecting and promoting the rights of First Nations peoples.
Sivaraman will begin his role on March 4.