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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3411 ..


yet many in our community experience racism. That is why we must understand the systemic, structural and subtle ways that racism is perpetuated in our community.

As elected representatives, it is our responsibility to ensure that there are not only appropriate measures under the law to protect people against damaging vilification, but appropriate mechanisms to report and respond to incidents when they occur. Reporting should be independent, safe, easy and non-invasive, with easily accessible accommodations for language and ability. Responses should be timely, empathetic and effective.

The Greens have already taken an active role in strengthening our laws against hate speech, with Minister Rattenbury in 2016 introducing new laws to provide important protections for people who are subjected to religious vilification. These laws also received tripartisan support. Investigating any barriers to implementing these laws is welcome.

My office has been lucky enough to have an exceptional ANU intern working on a project over the last couple of months, Ms Erica Smythe. Erica has written a report on increasing civic participation in multicultural communities and contributed to writing this speech. She writes from a position of lived expertise, having an Indonesian background and attending school in Bendigo.

This is particularly pertinent as extreme incidents of racism were seen in Bendigo during the rally against a mosque, which shows how racism holds the potential to intensify if it is not prevented. Subsequently, the Bendigo City Council’s strategic approach to combat the issue reveals how communities can resist and reduce these sentiments by collaborating with their local networks and agencies. This emphasises how Canberra needs to uproot discrimination by creating preventive strategies to stop it growing.

One of Erica’s keystone recommendations was for the ACT to have an anti-racism strategy. In its recent call for a national anti-racism strategy, the Australian Human Rights Commission made the case that our society needs to move from safe to brave. This means moving beyond simple acts of recognition to a fully-fledged plan to support social cohesion and inclusion at all levels. It also moves beyond the short-term celebration of visible and palatable signs of cultural differences, like music, dancing and food, and asking the hard questions about representation, power and resources.

The absence of an anti-racist strategy in the ACT means there is a lack of a mechanism for accountability. Government has a responsibility to the community to create actionable items to help combat racism. Actions in response to community racism must be taken at a local level. An anti-racism strategy for the ACT will complement the national framework with local strategies. It would show our commitment to ending racism and our intention to protect and promote equity and social inclusion. I thank my colleagues for enabling this important recommendation to be added to the motion.


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