Date: 
Thursday 24 May 2018

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO has told a Senate Estimates committee of her personal experiences of racism.

Appearing at the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in Canberra, Commissioner Oscar was asked whether she believed racism is a common problem in Australia.

“I have had personal experiences of taxis not taking my fare. And I have witnessed, in Darwin, at night, at the Mindil Beach Markets, four Aboriginal women with small children approach five taxis, lined in the taxi queue, and the taxis all locked their doors.

“So it does happen. It has happened to me and I have witnessed it happen to other Indigenous people.”

Commissioner Oscar was also asked to give an update to the Committee on progress of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project.

She said so far, in travels to Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, she’s met with 585 women and 163 girls.

“This is a national consultation and it’s the second time in the history of this country of engaging with Indigenous women. It’s been 31 years since the first engagement by the Aboriginal Women’s Taskforce and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 1986.

“Women and girls have welcomed the project. They have been actively participating in the project and see it as a wonderful and positive opportunity to share their life experiences and the issues that impact their daily lived realities and put forward suggestions around change to influence effective policy.

“At the same time, we’ve heard some very horrific stories about the lives of these women and girls. One of the key themes emerging from these consultations is the continued structural and institutional racism that women and girls experience,” she said.

Commissioner Oscar told the Committee the consultations with Indigenous women and girls will continue throughout the year until November.