Melissa Dinnison provides further comment on her Bill Leak cartoon complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission:

“I felt pretty degraded and humiliated, it deeply affected me to be honest. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to quit my degree because I didn’t really think it was worth trying anymore, if cartoons like this could be published in national newspapers,” Melissa tells Hack from Germany, where she is completing a uni exchange. 

“That [cartoon] basically aimed to blame Aboriginal families for their abuse children suffered in detention. It just made me feel like there’s no point in trying. It was just really a humiliating representation of indigenous people.”

“I was at home at the time and I just lay in bed and felt pretty despondent for a while. It definitely hurt, it really hurt to see that. Later on, after those feelings had sat with me for a while, I decided what I wanted to do.”

Melissa’s plan wasn’t to take her complaint to the Australian Press Council, like hundreds of others; she took it to the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

The “feelings” didn’t sit all that long: the complaint was apparently lodged the same day the cartoon was published. It would be interesting to hear her explain how she experienced “racial hatred” while at home “laying in bed”.


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