December 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on activities.

New videos for Racism. It Stops with Me

Last month we released two additional videos as part of the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign. They feature conversations about sport, sledging and racism. The message: whatever our differences, together we can all stand up to racism. Do take a look at them and share them with #standup.

Our rugby themed video

Our AFL themed video

So far, the four videos we have released the past two months for the campaign have attracted close to 1.5 million views on Facebook and YouTube — a fantastic response, and something we hope has started many new conversations about fighting racism.

Australia’s appearance at the UN on racial discrimination

In the final week of November, Australia appeared before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva. This Committee, which consists of independent experts, monitors states’ compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Australia implements the Convention primarily through the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

I had the opportunity to address the Committee during the session.

As I said in my statement, Australia’s success as a multicultural society must not induce complacency. It remains of urgent importance that the Racial Discrimination Act continues to set a standard for racial equality and tolerance, that there are steps taken to strengthen Australia’s multiculturalism, and that Australian governments respond to findings of racial discrimination. (Here are reports of the session from the Commission, the UN Committee, and Fairfax Media.)

 

Addressing the UN committee in Geneva

While in Geneva, I also spoke at the Committee’s forum on racial discrimination in today’s world, joining a panel of speakers from Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the United States.

With Committee chair Anastasia Crickley following the forum

Cultural diversity and leadership pilot launch

In November, the Commission and the University of Sydney Business School launched a pilot leadership program on cultural diversity. The program is an executive education course designed to promote leadership on cultural diversity in business and government.

We know that cultural diversity remains under-represented within the senior leadership of Australian organisations. It’s time we look into changing that, if we are to make the most of our society’s talents (a point I made in a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald about parliament).

With our 27 inaugural fellows

The pilot recognised 27 inaugural fellows drawn from Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, Woolworths, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons, Attorney-General’s Department (Commonwealth), Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Reserve Bank of Australia, NSW Police, QLD Police, NSW iCare, Thermo Fisher, and Chartered Accountants ANZ.

Marriage equality and multicultural Australia

In a speech to Western Sydney University’s Advancing Community Cohesion conference, I addressed some of the recent commentary about multiculturalism and the same-sex marriage postal survey.

While it is true that members of some ethnic communities are generally not in favour of same sex marriage, it may not be the case that ethnicity alone explains how some responded to the survey. The available evidence appears to suggest that religiosity  may be a more significant factor in explaining the high ‘No’ votes in some parts of Sydney, in particular.

In a world that many describe as post-truth or post-factual, our social cohesion is not always well served by jumping to conclusions.

At Western Sydney University’s advancing community cohesion conference

Racial tolerance

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has recently published a report showing a concerning rise in anti-Semitic incidents during the past year. As I said to the New York Times, this reflects how far-right groups have been emboldened to spread their messages of hatred.

We saw an example of this recently when one such group targeted NSW senator Sam Dastyari for some racial harassment in Melbourne. But there are many other examples, too. It’s important as a society that we send a strong message that any racism is not to be tolerated.

Speaking to SBS World News about far-right racist groups

I was delighted to have the opportunity to reflect on some of the challenges in my work as part of a panel at the University of Sydney’s Department of Government centenary celebration. I did so as a proud alumnus of the Department.

The panel at the University of Sydney’s Department of Government centenary celebration

And congratulations to Peter Balint on the publication of his book, Respecting Toleration. Honoured to be part of the book’s launch in Canberra.

With Peter Balint and colleagues following our panel at the ANU

 

Until next month,

Tim

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November 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my update on activities this past month.

Marking 42 years of the Racial Discrimination Act

It was a busy day of activities on 31 October, as we marked the 42nd anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act coming into effect.

Dr Jackie Huggins, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First People’s, delivered the 3rd Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture on race relations in Sydney. It was a powerful address, which drew a standing ovation from the capacity audience of 150 people. At the Lecture, I also awarded my annual student prize to Kupa Matangira, a Year 10 student from Hunter Christian School in Mayfield, NSW.

Earlier in the day, we also held a forum on anti-racism, which reflected on the state of Australian race relations and developments concerning diversity and inclusion.

With Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples

With Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Dr Soutphommasane awarding essay prize winner Kupa Matangira

Awarding essay prize winner Kupa Matangira

Institutional and structural racism

I’ve given a number of speeches this past month on institutional and structural racism. As I said in my UNESCO Chair oration, racism can have many faces – and doesn’t always involve hatred or malice. This was also a theme in my speech (reported here in Guardian Australia) to Deakin University’s international conference on institutional racism.

With Prof. Fethi Mansouri and Vice-Chancellor Jane Hollander of Deakin University at the UNESCO Chair Oration, 10 October 2017

With Prof. Fethi Mansouri and Jane Hollander Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University at the UNESCO Chair Oration, 10 October 2017

Multiculturalism and citizenship

Congratulations to the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia on their biennial conference.

As I noted in my speech in Darwin, this was my third and final speech at FECCA’s gathering (given the conclusion of my term next August). My speech reflected on issues of citizenship, multiculturalism and anti-racism.

Tim delivering speech at FECCA 2017

Speaking at the FECCA biennial conference in Darwin, 9 October 2017

I was also delighted to speak at a UTS graduation of communications and education students in Sydney, and to the National Community Foundations forum in Melbourne.

UTS Graduation, 12 October 2017

UTS Graduation, 12 October 2017

Diversity, inclusion and leadership

We had a great Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity event in Brisbane’s Customs House, hosted by the University of Queensland.

The event included a panel discussion on diversity and innovation, featuring Leadership Council members Professor Peter Hoj (Vice Chancellor, University of Queensland), Dr Martin Parkinson (Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) and Ms Raynuha Sinnathamby (Managing Director, Springfield Land Corporation).

Leadership Council, Brisbane 2017

With Professor Peter Hoj, Karina Carvalho, Raynuha Sinnathamby, and Dr Martin Parkinson – Brisbane, 19 October 2017

A warm welcome to Raynuha, who is the Leadership Council’s newest member – here’s a Q&A with Raynuha via the Leadership Council’s website.

There were excellent discussions at the Diversity and Inclusion in Sport forum, where I gave a keynote speech about the relationship between sport and politics.

Diversity and Inclusion in Sport, 6 October 2017

Diversity and Inclusion in Sport, 6 October 2017

And congratulations to Media Diversity Australia on their launch event last month. As one of the organisation’s advisory board members, I’m delighted to see it create momentum for more diversity in Australian news and current affairs media.

MDA Launch with Waleed Aly and Antoinette Lattouf

Media Diversity Australia Launch with Waleed Aly and Antoinette Lattouf, 30 October 2017

Racism. It Stops with Me

It’s great to welcome Internet Removals and Basketball Victoria as the newest supporters to our Racism. It Stops with Me campaign.

It has been an active period for the campaign, following our release of two new community service announcements. If you haven’t yet seen them, do take a look – and share them. And also check out our revamped Racism. It Stops with Me website, which contains more information about racism and how we can respond to it.

Until next month,

Tim

October 2017

Hello,

Welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

New TV campaign – Racism. It Stops with Me

This week we launched two new anti-racism videos as part of the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign. They will be airing as community service announcements on free-to-air television the next two months.

tim abc

ABC Weekend Breakfast, 7 October 2017

The videos capture everyday and casual acts of racism in public places. As I said in my opinion article in the Sydney Morning Herald, it is important all of us do our part in stopping racism – and this involves responding to it whenever we can. I was also interviewed on ABC Weekend Breakfast.

Take a look at our video and spread the word by sharing it (including through the Commission’s Facebook page).

It was fantastic to welcome Jeremy Fernandez, Verity Firth and Tracy Howe to the Commission to discuss racism and the new videos at our campaign launch event.

With Commission President Rosalind Croucher and panellists Tracy Howe, Verity Firth and Jeremy Fernandez at the CSA launch for Racism. It Stops With Me.

With Commission President Rosalind Croucher and panellists Tracy Howe, Verity Firth and Jeremy Fernandez at the CSA launch for Racism. It Stops With Me.

Populism, anxiety and race

I recently spoke at the Australian Political Studies Association conference on populism, anxiety and race. Giving signs of rising intolerance and xenophobia, it has become even more urgent and important that our society can be steadfast in rejecting prejudice and discrimination.

I also joined Fauziah Ibrahim on ABC RN Sunday Extra to discuss ‘The Year That Made Me’ and reflect on some of the recent history of Australian race relations.

Cultural diversity and leadership

Over the past month I’ve enjoyed joining a number of events about cultural diversity and leadership, including at Western Sydney University, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the NSW Department of Justice.

Speaking at Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet unconscious bias event – Canberra

 

NSW Department of Justice – Cultural Diversity Network – Parramatta

I also moderated an entertaining and interesting debate at Allianz Australia on cultural diversity targets.

Allianz Australia panel on cultural diversity targets – Sydney

The Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity has released a video on cultural diversity in the professions featuring speakers at its recent event in Melbourne.

Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture 2017

Don’t forget to RSVP for this year’s Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture, to take place at Customs House, Sydney, on Tuesday 31 October.

The lecturer for 2017 is Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Make sure to register via Eventbrite.

Community conversations in Townsville

In partnership with my colleagues at Anti-Discrimination Commission QLD, I visited Townsville last week to discuss community harmony and racial tolerance. It was great to connect with organisations and members of the Townsville community, who came along to events to discuss building a safer and more inclusive society.

Until next month,

Tim

September 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update.

Responding to racism and bigotry

Where does hatred come from? And how must we respond? Many have been asking these questions, in light of the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over in the US. Here in Australia, there are also concerning signs that racism and bigotry have been emboldened – and, as I said to the BBC, have been normalised in public debate.

One of the troubling scenes from Charlottesville, Virginia (from New York Times)

In this opinion article for the Sydney Morning Herald, I make clear that we mustn’t give any ground to racist extremism. And it’s not enough to be non-racist; we must also be anti-racist. One of the things everyone can do is stand up to prejudice and discrimination – something people have done through our Racism. It Stops with Me campaign.

Citizenship law changes

Along with my colleagues from the Australian Human Rights Commission, I appeared at a hearing of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiring into the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017.

The Commission, as made clear in its submission on the Bill, has concerns about some of the proposed changes to the requirements for Australian citizenship, including the new proposed English test for naturalising migrants.

Cultural diversity and leadership 

It was great to introduce the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity to a Melbourne audience in August. We heard some wonderful insights from Leadership Council members John Denton, Tony Johnson and Luke Sayers – who were joined by Dr Ranjana Srivastava and Dr Tien Huynh – about diversity in the professions. John Denton also wrote this piece on why cultural diversity matters for Australian business.

With (l-r) Tien Huynh, Tony Johnson, Patricia Karvelas (moderator), Ranjana Srivastava, John Denton and Luke Sayers

In Sydney, I was delighted to join the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals Australia’s annual symposium, where I reflected on our progress on cultural diversity in Australian organisations.

Addressing the SOCAP symposium (Photo: http://www.shanerozario.com)

I also spoke to Qantas’ in-flight magazine about the under-representation of cultural diversity in Australian leadership positions in business.

Commissioner’s Student Prize

The closing date for entries for my student prize is coming up very soon on 15 September. The prize competition is open to all high school students in Australia, in years 10 and 11.

Until next month,

Tim

August 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

Incidents of racism and bigotry

It has been concerning to see numerous incidents of public racism and bigotry reported in the national media. This includes ugly racist posters on the streets of Sydney’s inner west and Brisbane’s north, offensive flyers and graffiti targeting Chinese university students in Melbourne and Sydney, and intimidation directed at the Islamic College of Brisbane.

Social media comment on the incident in Brisbane

These incidents reflect extremist elements being emboldened to spread hatred in public. We must, as always, remain vigilant about racism and bigotry.

Public debates, racism and mental health

Unfortunately, some racism has also been apparent in our public debates. Racially charged outbursts, whether entertaining violence against others or reveling in the extinction of some races, can’t be justified as “larrikinism”. They go way beyond that, and deserve our condemnation.

The same applies to commentary that resorts to telling people to “go back to where they came from”. As I said to SBS World News, I hope such commentary doesn’t deter people from speaking up about issues because they fear they might become targets of racism. A multicultural Australia should have multicultural voices in its public debates.

My comments to SBS World News

I also joined the ABC’s It’s Not a Race podcast to reflect on how Australian society talks about racism. And in a speech to a Western Australian Association for Mental Health forum, I reflected on racism, multiculturalism and mental health.

Speaking at the WA Multicultural Mental Health Forum on Multiculturalism, mental health and the psychology of racism

Speaking at the WA Multicultural Mental Health Forum

Racism. It Stops With Me

A warm welcome to our newest supporters of ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’: the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) and the WA Council of Social Service (WACOSS).

Congratulations to the Ballarat City Football Club and the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council who have been named Supporters of the Month. Thank you to all supporters of the campaign that have taken a stand against racism.

Congratulations to Ballarat City Football Club and Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council who have been named Racism. It Stops With Me Support of the Month

Ballarat City Football Club and Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council – our ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ supporters of the month

Since 2012, 455 organisations have supported the campaign and demonstrated their commitment to stopping incidents of racism in our society. Here’s how your organisation can also get involved.

I had the pleasure while in Perth to catch up with one of our WA supporters, the West Coast Eagles football club, which joined the campaign in 2016 and recently launched their Reconciliation Action Plan.

Meeting with Racism. It Stops With Me supporter West Coast Eagles

Meeting with Racism. It Stops With Me supporter West Coast Eagles

Student Prize Competition 2017

There is just over one month remaining to make submissions to my annual student essay prize competition. Entries close on 15 September 2017 and the winner will be announced at the annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture in October. Here are more details about the competition.

Girl typing on a computer

Entries will be accepted for my student essay competition until 15 September 2017

Cultural diversity, leadership and national identity

While in Perth, I was pleased to speak at the launch of the WA branch of Asian Australian Lawyers Association, which was also attended by AALA’s patron, former High Court Justice Michael Kirby.

At the launch of the WA branch of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association

At the launch of the WA branch of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association

And in Adelaide I joined the National Australia Day Council’s conference for a discussion about national days and national identity.

A panel discussion at the NADC’s conference in Adelaide

I also joined the Committee for Sydney to speak to members about cultural diversity and leadership. On this topic, Tony Johnson (CEO of EY Oceania, and a member of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity) shared some of his reflections on the Leadership Council’s website.

Human Rights Delegation to Laos

I was honoured to be part of the Australian Government’s delegation to Laos to participate in the 5th Australia-Lao PDR Human Rights Dialogue. The Human Rights Dialogue is a biennial meeting between the Australian and Lao governments to discuss a range of human rights issues.

Participants in the 5th Australia-Lao PDR Human Rights Dialogue

Participants in the 5th Australia-Lao PDR Human Rights Dialogue

While in Vientiane, I had the opportunity to speak to students at the National University of Laos and participate in a workshop on social inclusion.

With students from the National University of Laos

With students from the National University of Laos

The panel at the social inclusion workshop in Vientiane

On the way back from Laos, I also stopped in Bangkok to meet with my counterparts at the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and with Ministry of Justice officials.

With officials from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and staff from the Australian Embassy in Bangkok

Until next month,

Tim

July 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

Strengthening Multiculturalism

I was delighted to join Diversity Arts Australia’s symposium, where I reflected on the importance of the arts and media in reflecting our multiculturalism. There’s room for improvement, as many would agree. And it’s vital we get it right: when people don’t see themselves in the stories we tell as a nation, it can undermine our national unity and social cohesion.

Speaking at the Diversity Arts Symposium

Speaking at the Diversity Arts Australia Symposium

In late June, I appeared as a witness at the Select Committee on Strengthening Multiculturalism’s public hearing. In the Commission’s submission and in my opening statement, I identified ways our multiculturalism could be strengthened including through renewed political and civic leadership.

I also joined the Asia Society for the launch of Disruptive Asia, a publication on Australia and Asia, to which I contributed an essay.

With Philipp Ivanov, Anushka Patel and Dermot O'Gorman on the Disruptive Asia panel

With Philipp Ivanov, Anushka Patel and Dermot O’Gorman on the Disruptive Asia panel

Queensland visit

In partnership with my colleagues at the Anti-Discrimination Commission QLD, I visited a number of communities in Queensland’s regions in June to discuss community harmony and racial tolerance.

Hearing from the Sunshine Coast community

Hearing from the Sunshine Coast at a community workshop

It was wonderful to meet members of the community – and talk about how we can make our communities safer and more inclusive. Thanks to all those who attended our events.

With Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Kevin Cocks and members of the Hervey Bay community

With Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Kevin Cocks, his staff and members of the Hervey Bay community

Talking about race

It was disappointing to see a controversy regarding some comments made about Asians in an ABC Melbourne radio interview. As I said to Fairfax Media, it’s important to discuss race, but let’s do it with respect. Too often prejudice is tolerated as good-natured banter, when it should be rejected for the racism it represents.

We did have a good example of how talking about race can be done the right way, with humour, via this new campaign from our colleagues at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. Watch this space, as we have some new developments with our Racism. It Stops with Me campaign which I can share with you soon.

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission's "Give nothing to racism" video

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s “Give nothing to racism” video

Cultural diversity and leadership

There has been some media misrepresentation about some of the work I’ve done on cultural diversity and inclusion, to which I’ve responded in the Daily Telegraph.

The Leading for Change Blueprint report which I produced last year in partnership with the University of Sydney Business School, PwC, Westpac and Telstra, provided a snapshot of the cultural backgrounds of our senior leaders in Australia. It found a significant under-representation of cultural diversity in the senior leadership of business, politics, government and higher education.

We should be mature enough to talk about why, for all the talents in our multicultural society, we are yet to see much diversity in the leadership of Australian institutions and organisations.

Leading for Change - A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership

Leading for Change – A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership

A few other things …

  • My speech to the Progress 2017 conference on progress and power
  • A speech to Hurlstone Agricultural High School on human rights and loving your country
  • My annual Student Prize is open to entries from students in Years 10 and 11 (more details can be found here)

Until next month,

Tim

June 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

Liberty and security

Recent weeks have seen renewed debates about security and terrorism. The loss of innocent life in London and Melbourne remind us of the threat posed by violent extremism.

It has been concerning, however, that some have been calling for the mass internment of Muslims in Australia. As I said to Fairfax Media, internment would involve a violation of liberty and the rule of law, entrench division, and play right into the hands of extremists.

German internees during WWI in Sydney (via SMH)

Multiculturalism and citizenship

I spoke at the Progress 2017 conference in Melbourne, where I reflected on the state of our race relations and community harmony.

The Commission has made submissions to a parliamentary committee inquiring into multiculturalism. This includes a number of recommendations about how we can strengthen Australia’s policy of multiculturalism.

We have also made a submission about proposed changes to the Australian citizenship test. The proposed changes about English language testing and integration, in particular, are of concern.

Abuse and bigotry

The past month has seen a disturbing number of incidents involving racial abuse and religious bigotry, including attacks on Muslim women wearing the hijab, abuse on public transport and on airplanes, and incidents on Fox’s AFL show Bounce and Channel 9’s The Footy Show.

‘White nationalist’ propaganda posters have also been plastered prominently around Perth. Neo-Nazi groups appear to be emboldened.

It is important that we hold racism to account. If you witness racial abuse or bigotry, and it’s safe to do so, consider speaking up. You can also report racism or lend support to someone on the receiving end.

Speaking to ABC News about racist incidents on public transport

Racism. It Stops With Me

If you or your organisation want to take a stand against racism, you can join our ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’ campaign.

A warm welcome to our newest supporters: Southern Migrant & Refugee Centre, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Our Race Pty Ltd and the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW. I was pleased to join ECC NSW for their campaign launch this month.

Ethnic Communities Council of NSW are among the newest supporters of Racism. It Stops With Me

The Ethnic Communities Council of NSW are among the newest supporters of Racism. It Stops With Me

We now have 362 active organisational supporters of the campaign and countless more individuals have pledge to make racism stop with them.

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership

I was pleased to join the launch of the Asian Leadership Project, a new initiative to help fast track culturally diverse talent.

With (l-r) Ken Woo (PwC), Julie Chai (Asian Leadership Project) and Jessica Wirawan (PwC)

In May, I also met with the Attorney General’s Department CALD Network group and spoke to the Department’s staff about getting the most out of our cultural diversity.

With Attorney General Department Secretary, Chris Moraitis and CALD Network members

With Attorney General Department Secretary, Chris Moraitis and CALD Network members

In other news …

This month, the Commission hosted a delegation from the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives. It was great to meet with the ambassadors from the ASEAN member states, along with Australia’s ambassador to ASEAN Jane Duke, to discuss governance and human rights issues within the region.

Commission representatives meeting with ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives

Meeting with the delegation from the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives

Finally, we are accepting entries for my annual Student Prize until 15 September 2017. All students in Australia in Years 10 and 11 are eligible to enter.

Until next month,

Tim

May 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

Inclusion and citizenship

There have been a number of recent major announcements concerning citizenship and immigration — including some changes to the Australian citizenship test, relating to Australian values and English proficiency. I reflected on this in a recent speech to the Australian Education Union Victoria Principals’ Conference.

As I said in my speech, we must never flinch from insisting that our multicultural society must abide by liberal democratic values. However, we must always take care to prevent citizenship being understood as a device for exclusion. One potential danger with the proposed changes to the citizenship test, particularly concerning English proficiency, is it could erect some barriers to immigrants becoming Australian citizens within a reasonable time.

The Racial Discrimination Act: taking stock

I was also pleased to speak at the Affinity Intercultural Foundation about racial tolerance and harmony. The speech was an occasion for me to take stock on the state of our race relations, following recent debates about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

With Ahmet Polat and Philippa McDonald at the Affinity Intercultural Foundation

Thanks to Bench TV for having me on to explain how the Racial Discrimination Act works. You can watch the full discussion by clicking on the image below.

Speaking to George Newhouse about the Racial Discrimination Act for BenchTV

Speaking about the Racial Discrimination Act for BenchTV

Cultural diversity in leadership and media

Here are some video highlights of our recent launch of the Leadership Council for Cultural Diversity. The Council will meet periodically throughout the year and is committed to improving the representation of cultural diversity within the leadership of Australian organisations.

You can sign up through the website to receive updates and further information.

Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity video

Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity video

Last month also saw the launch of Media Diversity Australia, a non-profit organisation committed to improving cultural diversity and representation in the media. This is a welcome development for the field and I am delighted to be supporting the organisation as a member of its advisory board. As I’ve said before, Australia’s cultural diversity is not yet reflected in its media — something we must do better on.

Student Prize

The 2017 Race Discrimination Commissioner’s Student Prize competition is now open for entries. This is an annual competition for school students aimed to promote research and discussion of racism among young people.

Students in Years 10 or 11 at any Australian school are eligible to enter through writing an essay or recording a speech answering a set question. The winning student and their school will be awarded book vouchers from Dymocks worth $150 and $500 respectively.

Entries close 15 September 2017.

With Mohamed Semra, Student Prize winner

With Mohamed Semra, the 2016 Race Discrimination Commissioner’s Student Prize winner

Racism. It Stops With Me

Congratulations to Essendon Football Club, which is our Supporter of the Month. Essendon has continued to take a strong stand against racism this past month.

At its recent match with Adelaide, it sent a strong statement about not accepting racism – including through a ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’ banner. It is great to see Essendon and other AFL clubs taking a stand.

Congratulations to Essendon Football Club for their Racism. It Stops With Me banner

Congratulations to Essendon Football Club for their Racism. It Stops With Me banner

Congratulations also to supporters Netball Australia and Netball NSW, which recently held an ‘All Stars’ Harmony Day match.

One Netball 'All Stars' event marking Harmony Day and supporting Racism. It Stops With Me. Photo: Narelle Spangher

One Netball ‘All Stars’ event marking Harmony Day and supporting Racism. It Stops With Me. Photo: Narelle Spangher

And a warm welcome to the NSW Gymnastics Association, our newest supporter of the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign. We now have 357 active supporters from a wide variety of industries including sport, business, government, unions and NGOs.

Incidents of racism

There have been a number of incidents of racism, which have been reported prominently during the past month – including some shop keepers refusing service to certain people because of their race or national origin. It is against the law to refuse service to someone based on their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.

If someone believes they have experienced racial discrimination, they may consider lodging a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission. The Commission may then attempt to conciliate the matter between the parties involved.

Until next month,

Tim

April 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update of my activities.

The Racial Discrimination Act and related legislation

The proposed legislative changes to Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act were voted down by the Senate last week. It is welcome that the Act remains in its current form. In the recent debate we’ve had, mainstream Australia has sent a clear message that racism is unacceptable. We must not do anything to embolden any racial discrimination or hatred.

As I have stated, sections 18C and 18D of the Act strike an appropriate balance between freedom from racial vilification and freedom of expression. There was a serious risk that a change to the Act would have encouraged people to believe offending, insulting and humiliating others on racial grounds was acceptable. These were matters dealt with in interviews I had with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast and Kim Landers on AM.

The Parliament has, however, passed amendments to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act, relating to the Commission’s complaint handling function. Many of these amendments reflect the Commission’s submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights’ recent inquiry. The Commission has long requested some legislative changes to its complaints process, which would assist it in dealing with vexatious and unmeritorious complaints.

2017 March Senate Estimates

Appearing before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which conducted a snap inquiry into the Human Rights Legislative Amendments Bill

Complaints and my role as Commissioner

Within recent media reports and commentary, there continue to be inaccurate characterisations of me having ‘urged’ or ‘encouraged’ complaints to the Commission. As Commissioner, I regularly inform people about their right to lodge a complaint if they believe they have experienced racial hatred. It is wrong to suggest that giving this information amounts to soliciting complaints.

Here is a statement I released on this issue on 20 March.

Cultural Diversity and Leadership

On 21 March, I was excited to launch the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity at the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. The Council brings together CEOs and senior leaders from Australian business, government, media and academia to promote cultural diversity in leadership.

The launch event included a panel discussion with Council members Michelle Guthrie (Managing Director, ABC) and Ian Narev (CEO, Commonwealth Bank), alongside author Benjamin Law and Amnesty International’s Roxanne Moore.

You can find out more about the Council through this new website, where you can also sign up to receive regular updates.

With some of the new Leadership Council members

With new Leadership Council members Prof Peter Hoj, Ian Narev, Michelle Guthrie, Tony Johnson and Dr Martin Parkinson (l-r)

I was also pleased to attend the cultural diversity pledge made by the managing partners of law firms Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Minter Ellison, Clayton Utz, Henry Davis York, Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Allens, DLA Piper, King & Wood Mallesons, Norton Rose Fulbright and Baker & McKenzie. It is encouraging to see the legal profession work to harness all of the talent within its ranks.

With the Managing Partners of the Law firms who have signed the Cultural Diversity pledge

With Managing Partners and senior staff of law firms who have signed the Cultural Diversity pledge

I spoke to SBS World News about the under-representation of cultural diversity in the leadership of Australian organisations, and how we can improve. This was also the focus of speeches and panel discussions at AsiaLink Leaders, the Department of Finance, the Department of Social Services, NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet, and the Commonwealth Bank.

Screenshot SBS 1 April 17

Speaking with SBS World News

With Deng Adut and Ming Long at Commonwealth Bank’s Mosaic speaker series

17 03 Finance IMG_4105

With Department of Finance Deputy Secretary Kerri Hartland

17 03 DSS

With the co-chairs of the Department of Social Services Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff network meeting

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On 21 March, we marked the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, better known to many as Harmony Day. Here’s my message about the day (video + text).

I was delighted to host a morning tea at the Commission for community and civil society organisations, anti-racism advocates and young people. Thank you to students from Holroyd High School who offered their personal reflections about the day and to all those who attended.

Morning tea for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Morning tea for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

With student leaders from Holroyd High School

Racism. It Stops With Me

Welcome to Victoria University, our newest supporter of the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign.

Last month I met with campaign supporter and public transport company Transdev to discuss incidents of racism on public transport. Unfortunately, we have recently seen a number of concerning reports about racial harassment and abuse in public. If you feel safe doing so, speaking up when you witness a racist incident may help to diffuse the situation, support the victim and may make the perpetrator think about their actions. Our Tips for Bystanders is a useful resources if you’re not sure what to do.

With Rene Lalande, CEO Transdev and Racism. It Stops with Me Supporter

With Rene Lalande, CEO of Transdev

I also had the pleasure of speaking about moral courage at a graduation ceremony at UniSA, a longstanding supporter of the campaign.

News from supporters

Play by the Rules, the national organisation promoting a safe, fair and inclusive environment in sport and recreation, has recently launched its Let Kids be Kids campaign. The campaign focuses on the poor sideline behaviour of adults at junior sport events. For more information on what you can do, check out the toolkit.

Until next month,

Tim

March 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update of my activities.

The Racial Discrimination Act 

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights released its ‘Freedom of Speech in Australia‘ report on 28 February. The report makes no recommendations for changing sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). It does, however, make some recommendations about better educating the Australian public about racism and the RDA, and about amending the Australian Human Rights Commission Act’s provisions concerning the Commission’s complaints-handling.

The Commission supports strengthening our complaints-handling process and made numerous recommendations to the Joint Committee about the Australian Human Rights Commission Act. We maintain our view that sections 18C and 18D of the RDA strike an appropriate balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial discrimination.

As I said to the ABC, the Joint Committee’s report demonstrates there is no consensus for changing the Racial Discrimination Act. The absence of any recommendation for changing sections 18C and 18D reflects the absence of a compelling case for change. Moreover, now would be a very dangerous time to weaken protections against racial vilification, as I made clear in a recent speech at Adelaide Law School (an excerpt of which was published in the Huffington Post).

Speaking with News 24 about the Parliamentary Joint Committee's report

Speaking with News 24 about the Parliamentary Joint Committee’s report

New research shows an overwhelming majority of Australian’s supporting existing protections against racial hatred. More than 75 per cent support the status quo, with fewer than 10 per cent believing it should be lawful to insult, offend, humiliate or intimidate someone because of their race.

Racism. It Stops With Me

Welcome to the Equal Employment Opportunity Network and the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians, our newest supporters of the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign.

We now have 355 active supporters from a wide variety of industries including sport, business, government, unions and NGOs.

Racism. It Stops With Me

Racism. It Stops With Me

Multiculturalism, immigration and communities

At a recent Senate Estimates hearing, I was asked about the impact of debates about immigration on race relations. As I said to senators, it is important we conduct our debates the right way and we adhere to liberal democratic values. This includes maintaining our commitment to a non-discriminatory immigration policy that makes no distinction based on race or religion. I made similar comments to this Financial Times report on our immigration debates.

Appearing at the Senate Estimates Hearing in Canberra

Appearing at the Senate Estimates Hearing in Canberra

Last month, I visited Maribyrnong College in Melbourne, where I spoke to the students about multiculturalism and racial tolerance.

With student leaders from Maribyrnong College

With student leaders from Maribyrnong College

I also had the opportunity to catch up with staff at the Australian Migrant Resource Centre in Adelaide, who do important work helping newly arrived migrants settle into Australian life.

With staff at the Australian Migrant Resource Centre in Adelaide

With staff at the Australian Migrant Resource Centre in Adelaide

In case you missed it …

  • The Australian Human Rights Commission and the Racial Discrimination Act: setting the record straight (article for Law Society of NSW Journal)
  • Information about the QUT and Bill Leak section 18C matters

Until next month,

Tim