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

February 2017

Hello,

and welcome to my first monthly update for 2017.

The Racial Discrimination Act

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights’ has continued its ‘Freedom of speech’ inquiry, which began last November. The inquiry has received over 11,000 submissions, form letters and correspondence and is due to report by 28 February 2017. Many of the submissions, and many of the inquiry witnesses, have expressed concerns about the effects of any weakening of the Act, especially the message it may send about racism.

In its submission to the inquiry, the Australian Human Rights Commission has made clear it believes Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act strikes an appropriate balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification. The Commission has proposed some changes to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act that governs the Commission’s complaints handling. As I have recently repeated, I do not believe there is a persuasive case for amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

However, it is clear that misconceptions remain about the Act and how the Australian Human Rights Commission administers it. This factsheet and my recent article in the Law Society of NSW Law Journal aim to provide some facts and clarification.

Hand-drawn image of Racial Discrimination Act

Part IIA of the RDA strikes the appropriate balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification

Racism. It Stops With Me

A warm welcome to St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and Ballarat City Football Club, our latest supporters of the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign. There are now well over 350 supporters of the campaign. If you have not already done so, I encourage your organisation to consider joining the campaign.

Our Tips for Bystanders factsheet remains an important and useful source of information for what to do if you witness a racist incident but aren’t sure how to respond.

Our Tips for bystanders factsheet provides information and options on what to do if you witness racism

Our Tips for bystanders factsheet provides information and options on what to do if you witness racism

Establishment of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity

Last December, we announced the formation of a Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity, which brings together senior leaders in business, government and higher education to help lead advocacy on cultural diversity in Australian corporate and professional life. The creation of the Council follows our Leading for Change blueprint, which was published last year.

The founding members of the Council are John Denton (CEO, Corrs Chambers Westgarth), Michelle Guthrie (MD, Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Prof. Peter Hoj (Vice-Chancellor, The University of Queensland), Tony Johnson (Managing Partner and CEO, EY Oceania), Tan Le (CEO, Emotiv), Ian Narev (CEO, Commonwealth Bank), Dr Martin Parkinson (Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet), Luke Sayers (CEO, PwC Australia).

The Council will have its first meeting and event in March, with other events later in the year. Please stay tuned.

And more on multiculturalism and cultural diversity …

Late last year, I joined the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ The Boardroom Report to discuss the findings of our landmark Leading for Change report on cultural diversity and inclusive leadership.

Interview with AICD's The Boardroom Report

Interview with AICD’s The Boardroom Report

I also spoke to the ABC’s Australia Wide program to mark the Lunar New Year and explore how we might move beyond our cultural festivals and feast into a more comprehensive embrace of our diversity and multicultural character.

Interview with ABC's Australia Wide program

Speaking to ABC’s Australia Wide

Finally, thank you to the Australia Refugee Association and Multicultural Communities Council of SA for a warm welcome in Adelaide. I look forward to the many organisations and communities I will be meeting with over the course of 2017.

With some staff and board members of the Australian Refugee Association

With some staff and board members of the Australian Refugee Association

Speaking at the Multicultural Communities Council of SA Public Forum

Speaking at the Multicultural Communities Council of SA’s Racial Discrimination Act Forum

In case you missed it …

Until next month,

Tim

2016: The Year in Review

Hello,

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to thank all those who have stood up against racism and spoken up for multicultural Australia. It has been a year when we have seen profound challenges in the form of xenophobia and intolerance. If the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, we have every reason to be vigilant on race relations and community harmony.

The Racial Discrimination Act

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is conducting an inquiry into freedom of speech and Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act. The Committee will now be taking submissions until 23 December 2016. I would encourage all those with an interest to consider making a submission.

Along with other members of the Australian Human Rights Commission, I appeared at a hearing the Committee held in Canberra. As I made clear in that hearing, I do not believe there should be amendments to section 18C and 18D. The Act is our legislative statement against racial discrimination and must continue to send a strong message to our society that racism of all forms is unacceptable.

The Commission’s submission makes clear that we believe sections 18C and 18D strike an appropriate balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification. Here’s our fact sheet on sections 18C and 18D of the Act, and how they operate.

Hand-drawn image of Racial Discrimination Act

Race hate and the RDA are covered in the Commission’s latest fact sheet

Racial tolerance and community harmony

This year has seen a lot of political rhetoric about immigration and multiculturalism, which has not been helpful for our social cohesion. It’s important that we have leadership on such matters. Our public debates do help to set the tone of our society.

In the weeks following the Federal Election in July, I made various public statements about the importance of responding to racial and religious intolerance, including in the Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian Australia, the Guardian Australia’s Australian Politics Live Podcast, the ABC (online, The World Today, RN Breakfast), A Current Affair and Sky News.

 

Interview with Sky News Australia

Interview with Sky News Australia in the wake of the election

Speaking with A Current Affair

Speaking with A Current Affair

Some perspective is also needed on race relations right now. According to the Scanlon Foundation’s latest Mapping Social Cohesion survey, 83 per cent of respondents agreed that multiculturalism is good for Australia. As I make clear in my comment for the Sydney Morning Herald, the findings demonstrate that there is no ‘silent majority’ of racists in Australia.

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Blueprint

One of our highlights this year was the launch of Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership in July. The report is the product of the Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Working Group I established last year that included representatives from Westpac, PwC Australia, The University of Sydney Business School and Telstra.

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Working Group members with Brian Hartzer, CEO Westpac

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Working Group members with Brian Hartzer, CEO Westpac

The report is a landmark study of cultural diversity at the executive leadership levels of our public companies, public service, federal parliament and universities. In each of these sectors, those with a non-European cultural background made up no more than 5 per cent of senior leaders. Find out more by clicking on the image below to view our video on what cultural diversity in leadership might look like in ten years’ time.

Video: Leading for Change

Video: Leading for Change

With Luke Sayers, CEO PwC Australia at the launch of Leading for Change

With Luke Sayers, CEO of PwC Australia, at the Melbourne launch of Leading for Change

At the Canberra launch of the Blueprint, hosted by Dr Martin Parkinson

At the Canberra launch of the Blueprint, hosted by Dr Martin Parkinson and the APS 200 group

The blueprint’s release has received extensive coverage, including in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, the ABC, the Guardian and the Australian Financial Review. I also wrote an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, and joined ABC News Breakfast and the Drum. Throughout August, September and October, I spoke about the Blueprint at more than 30 events across the country.

On ABC News Breakfast

On ABC News Breakfast

Building on the Blueprint’s findings, I have established a Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity which will meet for the first time in early 2017. The Council’s founding members are John Denton AO (CEO and Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth), Michelle Guthrie (Managing Director, Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Peter Hoj (Vice-Chancellor, The University of Queensland), Tony Johnson (Managing Partner and CEO, EY Oceania), Tan Le (Founder and CEO, Emotiv), Ian Narev (CEO, Commonwealth Bank), Dr Martin Parkinson PSM (Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) and Luke Sayers (CEO, PwC Australia).

Cultural diversity in media

Early in the year, we hosted a RightsTalk on media and diversity. We had a great discussion with Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Helen Kapalos, writer Benjamin Law (creator of SBS’s The Family Law) and actor and comedian Rob Shehadie (co-creator of Nine’s Here Come the Habibs).

You can watch the event in full here or visit my Facebook page to hear a few brief words from the speakers directly.

With Rob Shehadie, Helen Kapalos and Benjamin Law at the Media and Diversity Rights Talk

With Rob Shehadie, Helen Kapalos and Benjamin Law at the Media and Diversity Rights Talk

Student Prize and Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture

This year, we inaugurated a new annual Student Prize competition open to students in Years 10 and 11 who submitted a speech or essay about racism. This year’s winner was Mohamed Semra, a Year 11 student from Maribyrnong College in Melbourne for his essay on his experience growing up in Sudan and in Australia.

With Mohamed Semra, Student Prize winner

With Mohamed Semra, Student Prize winner

Mohamed’s prize was awarded at the 2nd Annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture, which was delivered by David Morrison AO, Australian of the Year 2016. Mr Morrison examined how and why Australia is at its best when we embrace the world around us rather than turn inwards.

With David Morrison AO guest speaker at the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture

With David Morrison AO guest speaker at the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture

National Anti-Racism Strategy and Racism. It Stops With Me

I’m pleased to say that the National Anti-Racism Strategy and the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign has had another successful year. Running since 2012, the campaign focuses on public awareness and education to promote a clear understanding of what racism is, how it can be prevented and what can be done when it is witnessed.

With school captains of Burwood Girls’ High at a morning tea to mark International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

This year, the Department of Human Services joined the strategy partnership and the number of organisational supporters increased by more than 10% to a total of 352 with many more individuals pledging their support online.

UTS takes a stand against Racism

Supporter of the month for September: UTS takes a stand against Racism

Congratulations to the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council who recently took out the Racism. It Stops With Me Award from a competitive field at the annual Human Rights Awards in Sydney.

As part of the National Anti-Racism Strategy, we also developed a series of early childhood education resources. The Building Belonging materials are a comprehensive toolkit – including an ebook, song with actions, educator guide, posters and lesson plans – focussed on encouraging respect for cultural diversity and tackling racial prejudice in early childhood settings.

Our new 'Building belonging' resource for early childhood educators

Our new ‘Building belonging’ resource for early childhood educators

The Racism. It Stops With Me website also has a huge range of resources available to the public. Find out more about becoming a formal organisational supporter.

Selected Articles, Speeches, Interviews and Panels

Here are some articles, speeches and interviews that may be of interest. All articles and speeches from the year can be found here and here.

Articles

National days should prompt reflection as well as inspire pride, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January 2016

Pauline Hanson might be back but Australia has moved on, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2016

Diversity is more than just souvlaki and dragon dance, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 2016

We can’t eradicate racism but telling its targets to grin and bear it isn’t good enough, Guardian Australia, 21 September 2016

There isn’t a silent majority of racists in Australia, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 November 2016

Speeches

The Success of Australia’s Multiculturalism, Speech given at the Sydney Institute, 9 March 2016

Knowing thyself, Speech given at University of Sydney Graduation Ceremony, 13 May 2016

Leading by example, The Walter Lippmann Memorial Oration, ECCV, 25 May 2016

The passions, race and cultural diversity, The Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Oration, Ormond College – University of Melbourne, 23 June 2016

Populism, Race and Democracy, Speech given at The Festival of Democracy, The University of Sydney, 6 September 2016

Responding to Intolerance, Speech given at the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Foundation’s Annual Lecture in Bigotry and Intolerance, Australian National University, 21 September 2016

Interviews/Panels

One Plus One: Tim Soutphommasane ABC, 25 February 2016

Do we see a diversity of views and faces across our media platforms?, ABC Drum, 3 May 2016

The Danger of Ideas Sydney Writers Festival, 19 May 2016

Race Discrimination Commissioner says there’s ‘no excuse for xenophobia’, RN Breakfast, 5 July 2016

The Bamboo ceiling, Festival of Dangerous Ideas, 3 September 2016

How immigration shaped Australia, Defining Moments in Australian History Series, 21 September 2016

‘We should be committed to tolerance’: race discrimination commissioner, RN Breakfast, 22 September 2016

If you’ve read this far, thank you! I look forward to working with you in 2017. Best wishes for the season.

Until next year,

Tim

December 2016

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

The Racial Discrimination Act – Parliamentary Joint Committee of Human Rights Inquiry

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights’ Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Australia is taking submissions about the Racial Discrimination Act and free speech until 9 December. As the Attorney-General made clear, all those with an interest should consider making a submission.

The Australian Human Rights Commission will be making a submission very shortly. As I said last month, there is no case for amending sections 18C and 18D of the Act. Our society must have strong protections against racial hatred, while guaranteeing freedom of speech.

Hand-drawn image of Racial Discrimination Act

Submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into Freedom of Speech and the Racial Discrimination Act close on December 9th

You may be interested in this fact sheet about how sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act have operated and been interpreted by the courts. And, in case you missed it, last month I also provided an explanation of the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission (including my role as Race Discrimination Commissioner) in administering the Act.

The state of Australian multiculturalism and social cohesion 

The Scanlon Foundation has released its Mapping Social Cohesion survey findings for 2016. This year 83 per cent of respondents agreed that multiculturalism is good for Australia. However, 20 per cent of respondents experienced discrimination this year, up from 15 per cent in 2015.

As I make clear in my comment for the Sydney Morning Herald, the findings demonstrate that there is no ‘silent majority’ of racists in Australia. Nonetheless, we mustn’t be complacent about prejudice and discrimination.

Racism. It Stops With Me

Congratulations to the five finalists for the Racism. It Stops With Me Award – The National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council, Beyond Blue, Welcome to Australia, Fadzi Whande and All Together Now.

Racism. It Stops With Me Awards finalists

Racism. It Stops With Me Awards finalists

The Award recognises the contribution of organisations and individuals to reducing and preventing racism in Australia. The winner will be announced at the annual Human Rights Awards event in Sydney on the 9th of December.

A warm welcome to Arab Council Australia, our newest supporter of Racism. It Stops With Me. My colleague, Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow, represented the Commission at the Arab Council’s excellent launch. We now have 352 active supporters of the campaign. Thank you to all involved for standing up to racism and discrimination.

Arab Council Australia Racism. It Stops with Me campaign launch

Arab Council Australia Racism. It Stops with Me campaign launch

You can find out more, via our website, about how your organisation can be involved in the campaign.

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership

This past month I had the pleasure to join Westpac, the Asia Society, EY, Herbert Smith Freehills, the Department of Human Services (Australia) and Allianz Australia for events on cultural diversity and inclusive leadership.

Westpac Employee Action Group launch

With Yung Ngo, Simren Flora, Rebecca Lim and Lyn Cobley at the launch of Westpac’s Cultural Diversity Employee Action Group

With Ming Long, Jette Radley and Philipp Ivanov at Asia Society blueprint event

With Ming Long, Jessica Wirawan and Philipp Ivanov at Asia Society’s Gen A event

Allianz Australia Blueprint event

With fellow panelists and speakers at Allianz Australia

With EY Oceania's CEO and Managing Partner Tony Johnson at EY's leadership forum

With EY Oceania’s CEO and Managing Partner Tony Johnson at EY’s leadership forum

Migration and Settlement Awards

Migration Council Australia is currently accepting nominations for the upcoming Australian Migration and Settlement Awards. You can nominate a person, group or organisation if you believe they have made an outstanding contribution to the Australian settlement of migrants and refugees.

Until next month,

Tim

November 2016

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

The Racial Discrimination Act 

There continues to be much discussion and debate about the Act, particularly in light of a recent Federal Circuit Court ruling and announcement of a parliamentary inquiry.

Parliamentary inquiry

The Attorney-General has announced a parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech and Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act, which will be conducted by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. I will, as a matter of course, make my views known to the inquiry.

It remains my view that there is no case for changing section 18C of the Act. Our society must have strong protections against racial abuse and vilification, while guaranteeing freedom of speech. As the Attorney-General made clear, all those with an interest should consider putting their views to the Joint Committee, which has been asked to report by 28 February 2017.

The role of the Australian Human Rights Commission

As explained in this fact sheet, the Commission’s role is to inquire into and conciliate complaints that are made by members of the public. The Commission does not make legal determinations about whether something has contravened the Act – that can only be done by a federal court. The Commission also has no power to prevent people from taking a matter to court after a complaint has been terminated.

My role as Race Discrimination Commissioner

As Commissioner, I play no role in conciliating complaints. But it is part of my role to promote understanding and acceptance of the Act. This includes informing people about the option they have to lodge a complaint under the Act if they believe they have experienced racial discrimination or hatred.

It is wrong to suggest that it is inappropriate or beyond my remit to provide such information (as I make clear in this letter to the Australian Financial Review).

2nd Annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture and inaugural Commissioner’s Student Prize

We were delighted to hold the 2nd Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture on 27 October in Sydney, which honours the memory of Kep Enderby QC (1926-2015), the former federal Attorney-General who oversaw the enactment of the Racial Discrimination Act in 1975.

With David Morrison AO guest speaker at the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture

With David Morrison AO, guest speaker at the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture

This year’s lecture, ‘Girt by sea or girt by beach?’, was delivered by David Morrison, Australian of the Year 2016. It was a wide-ranging lecture, which dealt with questions of culture, identity and human rights. David’s speech and my own reflections on Kep Enderby and the role of our annual lecture can be read here and here.

We also announced at the lecture the inaugural winner of my Student Prize. The Prize was open to high school students in Year 10 and 11, who submitted an essay or speech about racism. This year’s winner was Mohamed Semra, who is in Year 11 at Maribyrnong College in Melbourne. It was wonderful he was able to join us at the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture to receive his Prize.

With Mohamed Semra, Student Prize winner

With Mohamed Semra, Student Prize winner

The annual Human Rights Awards – 9 December

As the end of the year draws closer, you are warmly invited to join our annual Human Rights Awards on 9 December. This year, we mark the 30th anniversary of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Tickets are on sale now for the annual Human Rights Awards

Tickets are on sale now for the annual Human Rights Awards

Racism. It Stops with Me

Congratulations to Welcome to Australia, which is our Racism. It Stops with Me Supporter of the Month.

Walking with the other speakers at the Walk Together March

Walking with the other speakers at the Walk Together March

I was delighted last month in Sydney to join one of Welcome to Australia’s Walk Together events. Along with a number of others, I spoke briefly at the walk, which is about calling on us to embrace our cultural diversity and unite in combating prejudice.

Racism. It Stops with Me continues from strength to strength, and we have now had more than 430 organisations join as supporters since 2012. Find out more about how you or your organisation can be involved here.

Harmony, Dignity and Immigration

Thanks to the UNSW Kaldor Centre for inviting me to speak at their Global Day of Dignity celebrations at NSW Parliament House. Here are my remarks to the high school students who attended, reminding them of the importance of dignity in human rights.

I was delighted to participate in Griffith University’s Equity Symposium, where I spoke to university staff, and also the University’s Integrity 20 conference, where I joined a panel to speak about immigration and asylum issues. While in Brisbane, I also joined a meeting of the Queensland Police Service and Muslim communities at the Islamic College of Brisbane to discuss community harmony.

At the QPS-Muslim community engagement meeting, with QLD Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks and QLD Police Commissioner Ian Stewart

At the QPS-Muslim community engagement meeting, with QLD Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks and QLD Police Commissioner Ian Stewart

Speaking at Global Day of Dignity event at NSW Parliament House

Speaking at Global Day of Dignity event at NSW Parliament House

With Penelope Mathew, Shami Chakrabarti, Robert Manne and Luke Stegemann at the Griffith University Integrity 20 conference

With Penelope Mathew, Shami Chakrabarti, Robert Manne and Luke Stegemann at the Griffith University Integrity 20 conference

It was wonderful to be part of the Committee of Economic Development of Australia’s launch of their new report on migration – which makes an important contribution to the economic and social debate about immigration. Click on the following links for the full report and a video of my speech.

Speaking at the CEDA Migration report launch

Speaking at the CEDA Migration report launch

Speaking on the ABC's The Drum

Speaking on the ABC’s The Drum program

In case you missed it…

The Commission has recently released new early childhood education resources to tackle racial prejudice. The Building Belonging resources include an ebook, song with actions, posters and lesson plans. The full toolkit can be downloaded here.

Image from the Building Belonging ebook

Title page of the Building Belonging ebook

Until next month,

Tim

October 2016

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

Multiculturalism, immigration and public debate

The past month has seen continued public debate about multiculturalism and immigration – with one opinion poll indicating significant public support for an immigration policy that may discriminate on the grounds of religion. As Professor Andrew Markus highlights in this piece, it’s important to keep a sense of context on any poll findings.

Still, these are testing times for our tolerance and community harmony. It’s important that we remain committed to the values of equality, civility and non-discrimination.

Here’s a report from Guardian Australia about my speech at the ANU in Canberra, which explained how we should respond to intolerance. Part of the speech was published as an opinion piece for Guardian Australia. I also joined Guardian Australia for an Australian politics live podcast, and ABC’s RN Breakfast, to discuss the issue.

My comment for Guardian Australia

My comment for Guardian Australia

While in Canberra, I joined a panel at the National Museum of Australia to discuss the history of immigration – the panel will feature on ABC RN’s Big Ideas program on the evening of 10 October.

With fellow panellists Tasneem Chopra, Marina Go and Frank Bongiorno

With fellow panellists Tasneem Chopra, Marina Go and Frank Bongiorno

Racial tolerance and community harmony

I held a forum on racial tolerance and community harmony in Sydney, which was attended by various community organisations. It was a valuable opportunity to hear about community experiences of racial discrimination and reflect on some of the challenges around advocacy in the area.

The forum in session

The Sydney forum in session

While in Darwin I joined a public forum on racial discrimination, hosted by the Multicultural Council of NT. Thanks to MCNT, all who attended, and also to my colleague Sally Sievers (NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner) for her hospitality.

Fielding a question at the Darwin forum

Fielding a question at the Darwin forum

2nd Annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture on Race Relations

You are warmly invited to the 2nd Annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture on race relations, which will be delivered by David Morrison AO, Australian of the Year 2016. The Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture is an annual public lecture held to honour the memory of the Hon. Kep Enderby QC (1926-2015), who as Attorney-General introduced the Racial Discrimination Bill in the House of Representatives in 1975.

When: Thursday, 27 October 2016 – 5.45pm for a 6.00pm start

Where: University of Technology Sydney, Green Theatre, Level 2, Faculty of Science Building (building 7). Corner Thomas Street and Jones Street, Ultimo NSW 2007.

RSVP: Eventbrite or racediscriminationcommissioner@humanrights.gov.au

Headshots of David Morrison and Kep Enderby

David Morrison, 2016 Australian of the Year (left); Kep Enderby (right)

New early childhood resource

I’m delighted to say the Commission has launched its new resource for early childhood educators about cultural diversity and prejudice. The materials, developed under the National Anti-Racism Strategy, include a range of information for educators and parents. You can find all of the materials here – and I’d welcome your thoughts.

Our new 'Building belonging' resource for early childhood educators

Our new ‘Building belonging’ resource for early childhood educators

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership

I’ve continued the roadshow for our Leading for Change blueprint in cultural diversity and inclusive leadership. Thanks to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), ANZ, Gilbert + Tobin, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ GrowAg conference, Male Champions of Change and the Royal Bank of Canada for hosting events. Thanks also to the University of Sydney Business School, which featured the blueprint in their Sydney Business Connect magazine.

Speaking at a CEDA lunch in Adelaide

Speaking at a CEDA lunch in Adelaide

With Dai Le, Ken Woo, Moya Dodd and Danny Gilbert at the Blueprint launch at Gilbert + Tobin

With Dai Le, Ken Woo, Moya Dodd and Danny Gilbert at Gilbert + Tobin’s Sydney office

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Speaking with Sara van Vliet at ANZ in Melbourne

Speaking to delegates at the GrowAg agribusiness conference in Albury

Speaking to delegates at the GrowAg agribusiness conference in Albury

I joined ABC Nightlife with Dominic Knight to discuss whether Australia has a ‘bamboo ceiling’, and was honoured to deliver this year’s University of Sydney Business School’s Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture.

With University of Sydney Business School Dean Greg Whitwell and ... at the Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture

With University of Sydney Business School Dean Prof Greg Whitwell and Prof Marian Baird at the Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture

In case you missed it …

  • Our fact sheet on sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act
  • My lecture on populism, race and democracy
  • The Leading for Change blueprint on cultural diversity and inclusive leadership
  • AFR Boss’s article about the blueprint

Until next month,

Tim

September 2016

Hello,

and welcome to my monthly update on my activities.

The Racial Discrimination Act

There has been much recent public discussion about the Racial Discrimination Act, with some senators proposing amendment to section 18C of the Act. My position of this remains as it has been the past three years: there is no case for changing section 18C.

Unfortunately, there is considerable misunderstanding of section 18C, with many ignoring the protection of free speech under section 18D. But let’s get the facts straight. Here’s a fact sheet on how sections 18C and 18D operate.

I spoke about the Racial Discrimination Act in a number of recent speeches this past month. This includes my lecture on social cohesion at the ANU’s Research School of Psychology Oration, and my lecture on populism, race and democracy at The University of Sydney’s Festival of Democracy.

ANU Research School of Psychology Oration

With Professor Mike Kyrios, head of school, at the ANU Research School of Psychology Oration

University of Sydney's Festival of Democracy

With Professor John Keane at The University of Sydney’s Festival of Democracy

Racism. It Stops with Me

A special mention to the University of Technology Sydney for its fantastic support of Racism. It Stops with Me. UTS has taken a strong stand against racism and promotes social inclusion through their leadership, teaching community engagement and student welfare activities. You can watch UTS students talk about the campaign here and Vice Chancellor Attila Brungs’ statement on anti-racism here.

Vice Chancellor Attila Brungs with staff and students of UTS taking a stand against racism

Vice Chancellor Attila Brungs with staff and students of UTS taking a stand against racism

Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Blueprint

The past month has seen us take the Leading for Change Blueprint on a roadshow to business and government. We’ve had a launch event at PwC, and events at Macquarie Bank, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, EY and Royal Bank of Canada. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet also hosted an event with the APS 200 group of senior leaders of federal government departments and agencies in Canberra.

With Luke Sayers, CEO PwC Australia at the launch of Leading for Change

With Luke Sayers, CEO PwC Australia at the launch of Leading for Change

With Ken Woo and Sue Ann Khoo of PwC and Yung Ngo of Westpac

With Ken Woo and Sue Ann Khoo of PwC and Yung Ngo of Westpac

With Macquarie Bank panellists Dana Korn, Joanne Pickhaver and Ben Perham

With Macquarie Bank panellists Dana Korn, Joanne Pickhaver and Ben Perham

At the Department of PM&C ASP200 Blueprint event with Andrew Metcalfe, Martin Parkinson, Senator Zed Seselja and Ms HK Yu

At the APS 200 Blueprint event with (l-r) Andrew Metcalfe, Martin Parkinson, Senator Zed Seselja and HK Yu

blueprint-event

With Corrs Managing Partner and CEO John Denton and Tasneem Chopra

I also spoke about cultural diversity, leadership and the ‘bamboo ceiling’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Here’s the Youtube video of the panel discussion.

Speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas with fellow panellists Ming Long, Jennifer Whelan and Chair, Sarah Dingle

Speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas with fellow panellists Ming Long, Jennifer Whelan and Chair, Sarah Dingle

Immigration and multiculturalism

This month the Scanlon Foundation released the results of its Australians Today study. The study made some interesting findings about the experience of discrimination and attitudes towards cultural diversity. Congratulations to the Scanlon Foundation and Professor Andrew Markus for their continued leadership in research on social cohesion.

Speaking at the Scanlon Foundation's Australians Today report launch

Speaking at the Scanlon Foundation’s Australians Today report launch

I also had the great pleasure of having a conversation with Peter Mares about his excellent new book Not Quite Australia: How temporary migration is unsettling the settler society.

With Peter Mares at the launch of his book Not Quite Australian

With Peter Mares at the launch of his book Not Quite Australian

Essay Competition

There is still time to get entries in for my student prize. The winner and the student’s school will be awarded a $150  and $500 book voucher from Dymocks respectively. Please encourage any students you know to take part. More information can be found here.

Girl typing on a computer

Entries are still being accepted for my student essay competition – but be quick!

Human Rights Awards – nominations now open

Every year the Australian Human Rights Awards recognise and celebrate the extraordinary contributions of individuals, organisations and businesses to the field of human rights. The Awards ceremony will be held in Sydney on Friday 9 December.

This includes a Racism. It Stops with Me Award which will be given to an organisation for their contribution to reducing and preventing racism in Australia.

If you know anyone you think deserves this award or any of the other category options, make sure you make a nomination here.

Nominations close 25 September. For more information contact hrawards@humanrights.gov.au.

2015-human-rights-award

Presenting the 2015 Racism. It stops with me Award to winners Tasmanian Students Against Racism

Save the date – Annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture, Speaker David Morrison AO

Invitations will soon be released for the Annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture. This year Mr David Morrison AO will be the guest speaker.

Please watch this space for further details but mark 27 October 2016 at the University of Technology Sydney in the diary now.

Save the date: Australian of the Year, David Morrison will be giving the annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture this year at UTS on 27 October.

Save the date: Australian of the Year, David Morrison will be giving the annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture this year at UTS on 27 October

Until next month,

Tim