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2009 Media Release: Racial equality: Time to get back to basics for our future

Commission Commission – General

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Racial equality: Time to get back to basics for our future

In his speech at the FECCA (Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia) 2009 Biennial Conference in Victoria today, federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, calls for racial equality to be put firmly back on the national agenda.

“In an era where stories involving race, culture and religious belief are dominating our headlines, it is startling to observe how little discussion is devoted to what these scenarios mean for our country and its future in terms of our national commitment to racial equality,” Commissioner Innes said.

“When we are seeing projections that our population will grow to 35 million by 2049, largely from net overseas migration, I am extremely concerned that we do not miss this opportunity to ensure the basics are firmly in place for us to address our very multicultural future,” said Commissioner Innes.

Commissioner Innes said that the government and multicultural sectors needed to work together to ensure processes and mechanisms were in place for the future and that all communities in Australia were aware of them.

“As a nation, it is time we accepted that, like most countries on this planet, pockets of persistent racism exist and they have long term, serious impacts and human consequences,” said Mr Innes. “It is only with community acknowledgement and awareness that our community as a whole can take responsibility and commit to long term strategies that promote respect and tolerance.”

Commissioner Innes said that, in addition to acknowledging the current forms of racism that exist in Australia, we must ensure our legal tools, including a robust complaints process, are working for the community

Additionally, Commissioner Innes said, where legal avenues are not adequate, they must be supported by strong multicultural policy that encompasses a human rights element and enables and encourages social inclusion and cultural and religious diversity.

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529