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