Today, I was proud to join the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon to launch Australia’s new national anti-racism strategy, ‘Racism, it stops with me’.
It’s a positive campaign that calls on all Australians to say no to racism and it was a key component of the Gillard Government’s multicultural policy, The People of Australia.
As a Government we’re committed to combating racism. Racism discounts the contribution that generations of migrants have made to our nation and ignores the sacrifices they have made for our collective future.
The new strategy was prepared following consultation and engagement with the community and was steered by experts on anti-racism and multicultural matters.
I would like to acknowledge the National Anti-Racism Partnership for developing the strategy, in particular the Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke for leading the partnership and strategy, and the Australian Multicultural Council, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, the National Congress of Australia’s First People, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and the Attorney-General’s Department.
I established the national partnership to harness the collective energy of government and non-government organisations to promote participation and inclusion and I think they have all done an outstanding job.
Since 1945 Australia has successfully welcomed seven million people and now around 44 per cent of all people who live here were born overseas or have one or more parent who was. We’re a strong cohesive multicultural nation, but because we so wonderfully diverse it’s important that we remain vigilant as a community about stamping out incidents of racism.
As a community we do not tolerate racism and we have laws that prohibit discrimination. This new strategy is about complementing these measures and encouraging the community at a grassroots level to challenge racism and end discrimination.
I am very proud to be a member of the Gillard Government and the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Our multicultural policy, ‘The People of Australia’, reaffirms the importance of a culturally diverse and socially cohesive nation and includes important initiatives to tackle racism. The national anti-racism partnership was a key component of our new multicultural policy and demonstrates our commitment to fostering social cohesion.
The Government is committed to combating discrimination and ensuring everyone in Australia is treated with respect and fairness. Australia is largely a tolerant nation and an overwhelming majority of Australians appreciate the benefits of our diversity and are accepting and welcoming other cultures. For instance, 86.8 per cent of Australians think it is a good thing for society to be made up of different cultures. It is pleasing that a large majority of Australians are positive about living in a multicultural society and feel secure and comfortable with cultural difference, however, we do also acknowledge that pockets of racism do exist within Australian society. Incidents of racism should not go unchallenged which is why the strategy, Racism, it stops with me, is so important and focused at changing things from the ground up.
Experiences of racism are known to adversely affect a person’s health and well being and it can undermine the cohesive and harmonious nature of our multicultural society. The new strategy affirms the Government’s commitment to strengthen social inclusion and builds on our decision to restore the position of a full time Race Discrimination Commissioner.
The ‘Racism, it stops with me’ strategy sets out a 3 year plan for Government to work with community partners to combat racism across schools and higher education, the media, government service providers, workplaces and the internet. The strategy concentrates its efforts on research and consultation, and includes education resources, and public awareness campaigns to combat racism and promote tolerance and acceptance, youth engagement and on-going evaluation.
The Gillard Government is committed to Australia’s brand of multiculturalism and we are proud of our record of successfully leveraging the benefits of our diversity. Racism has no place in our society and as Minister for Multicultural Affairs, I am pleased to support the campaign and I encourage all Australians to say no to racism.
For more information about the National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy visit www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/racial_discrimination/index.html