Date: 
Monday 12 November 2018
Image: 

The Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has told members of African Australian communities he wants to continue working together to combat racism and promote social harmony.

Speaking at the African Think Tank Conference Dinner in Melbourne, Commissioner Tan said African Australian communities continue to face racism.

“Over the last couple of years there has been ongoing public and media attention on young African Australians living in Melbourne, and what has been commonly framed as a gang or crime crisis.

“Let us be clear on this. It is not in dispute that some young African Australians are involved in crime. I note the community is working constructively with police on improving and resolving these issues, which is positive and I wish them well and every success.

“But as members of a tolerant multicultural society, we have a duty and obligation to refrain from racialising this issue as a problem with a particular racial or ethnic group in our community.

“Doing so is likely to exacerbate community tensions and lead to more social isolation and racism within our community.

“As the Race Discrimination Commissioner, it’s my role to not only combat racial discrimination but to also help educate the public about racism, and to bring people together in the spirit of friendship, acceptance and common understanding,” Commissioner Tan said.

In 2014, as Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Chin Tan worked with more than 30 South Sudanese community groups and leaders, leading to the formation of the South Sudanese Community Association.

Commissioner Tan promised to continue standing with African Australian communities to combat racial discrimination and improve community harmony.

“Our vision and hope for our society is one that is culturally diverse, open, accepting, socially cohesive and inclusive, and one that values equality, fairness and equal justice and opportunities for all. It is also one where racial discrimination is an aberration and virtually non-existent,” Commissioner Tan said.

Commissioner Tan called for a moment of silence as a mark of respect after the deadly attack in Melbourne last week.

“I believe that everyone in this room and all right-thinking, fair-minded and peace-loving Australians share a common commitment to rejecting and repudiating all that the perpetrator stood for.

“We strive to be a society where social cohesion and harmony is fostered and valued. Any views, particularly extremist views or ideologies, whether based on religion, race or culture, that divide Australians and inflame tensions, discord and intolerance, or that result in violence, must always be rejected and repudiated,” Commissioner Tan said.

You can download Commissioner Chin Tan’s full speech here.