Using National Human Rights Institution mechanisms for addressing discrimination issues - April 2008

National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy Consultative Forum

16 November 2011, Adelaide


Background

The Consultative Forum, co-hosted by the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the Australian Human Rights Commission, formed part of FECCA’s 2011 bi-annual conference and was the first community consultation event associated with the National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy (NARPS).
The stated aims of the forum were to:

  • introduce the NARPS;
  • consult with Ethnic Communities Councils, experts and practitioners on effective ant-racism strategies, the role of existing institutions and networks; and
  • hear examples of strategies from the community to feed into the development of the NARPS discussion paper and strategy

Format of the Forum

The forum was chaired by Ms Anne Burgess, the Acting SA Equal Opportunity Commissioner.  Representatives of NARPS partners briefly spoke on various aspects of the Strategy, and their organisational role in Partnership.  This was followed by an hour-long interactive session  (facilitated by Ms Padma Menon, Director of FECCA) which invited participant comment, followed by concluding remarks from Ms Burgess.

The forum was opened by Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke who discussed the background to the NARPS strategy. 

The Chair of FECCA, Pino Migliorino, then spoke about the need for reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as a foundation of anti-racism strategies.

Garry Fleming, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs Division, Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) provided a perspective on behalf of the three Commonwealth Government departments involved in the Partnership.

Ms Gail Ker, Deputy Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council (AMC), outlined the Council’s agenda.

Mr Brian Butler, representing the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, was an apology for the event.

There were approximately 40-45 participants, primarily representatives from state, federal and local government departments, community organisations and university departments. 

Interactive Forum

There was recurring discussion on the need to develop strategies that:

  • engage young people
  • address the structural and systemic barriers to finding gainful employment
  • focus on education
  • develop integrated legislative and policy frameworks
  • strategically use limited funding options 
  • promote leadership  
  • involve the media

Some strategies that were suggested by participants to address racism included:

  • using human and social capital, including from new and emerging communities and established culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities
  • overcoming intrinsic systemic barriers, such as the importance placed on high level English language skills
  • improved information to temporary visa holders about their right to report racist behaviour
  • focusing on creating social inclusion through adequate resourcing, funding and support of both mainstream and ethno-specific organisations
  • developing  integrated legislative and policy frameworks 
  • building up anti-racist expertise in leaders (government, public sector, corporate and community)
  • strengthening  leadership and advocacy capacities in CALD communities
  • recruiting corporate champions to promote the benefits of skilled migration and migrants as good corporate citizens
  • encouraging businesses to improve cultural diversity in the workplace
  • engaging with young people through social media, sport and/ or early intervention
  • building messages about anti-racism into early childhood curricula
  • working with the media to reduce racial stereotyping