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Annual Report 2001-2002: Chapter 7

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Annual Report 2000-2001

Chapter 7: Race Discrimination

Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner - Dr William JonasActing
Race Discrimination Commissioner and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner,
Dr William Jonas, AM

Education and Promotion

World Conference Against
Racism

The United Nations
World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance (WCAR) will be held in Durban, South Africa from
31 August to 7 September 2001.

The WCAR has been
the focus for the major activities of the Race Discrimination Unit over
the last year. Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Jonas determined
that the WCAR provided a unique opportunity for the Commission to engage
in direct dialogue with Australian civil society. The aim is to undertake
a robust and honest assessment of, and identify action oriented strategies
to address, racism in Australia today.

In developing the
plan for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s involvement
and input to the WCAR Dr Jonas noted:

“we are
firmly of the view that international activities such as the World
Conference, and indeed the entire human rights system, can only be
meaningful if they are related to the day to day experiences of people,
wherever and whoever they may be.”

In recognition
of Dr Jonas’s commitment the Commission has undertaken a multifaceted
approach to its preparations for the World Conference Against Racism
and this has included both regionally and internationally based initiatives.

Dr Jonas will compile
a final report based on the findings and outcomes of the preparatory
activities. This report will be presented to the Commonwealth Government
and to delegates at the WCAR and other relevant forums. The WCAR and
the final report will then inform the Racial Discrimination Unit activities
over the next year with the aim of implementing concrete strategies
to combat racism in Australia. The first of these will be a National
Conference on Racism in Australia in early 2002. The conference will
provide a forum for reporting back on the outcomes of the WCAR and the
civil society consultations with the aim of working towards a national
plan of action against racism.

Civil Society Consultations

National Youth Forum
on Racism

The first national
activity organised by the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission
in the lead up to the World Conference Against Racism was a National
Youth and Racism Forum held in Canberra on 7 May. Creating a specific
space for young people to exchange views was considered crucial to the
consultation process. Too often young people are given only a marginal
space, yet it is they who hold the key to a future world free of racism
and intolerance.

The aim of bringing
together a group of young people from all states, representing a number
of different organizations, was to stimulate discussion on racism and
provide a forum in which participants could share common experiences
of racism and related intolerance. Representatives from a broad range
of communities attended the forum, as well as representatives from State
peak youth organisations, the United Nations Youth Organisation, Community
Aid Abroad and ATSIC.

The forum was a
success producing a valuable discussion paper, outlining a number of
issues relating to racism and youth. It also put young people in contact
with each other and as a result a number of Youth Forums have been organised
by the participants in their respective states.

National
Summit on Racism

In preparation
for the World Conference Against Racism, the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, with funding assistance from the High Commissioner
for Human Rights, organised Racism and civil society: A national
summit on racism
, on 8 and 9 May 2001. The Summit brought together
a broad range of civil society, including Indigenous community and peak
NGO leaders, academics, legal practitioners, human rights activists
and representatives from business, religion, arts, sports and media.
Several delegates from the previous day’s Youth Forum remained
to participate in the summit. Over two days the summit, through animated,
enthusiastic and at times challenging working groups, developed a number
of strategies and recommendations for the Commission to take to the
WCAR.

Professor Maurice
Glèlè-Ahanhanzo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary
forms of racism, officially opened the Summit. Professor Glèlè-
Ahanhanzo addressed the themes of the WCAR which focussed on identifying
action oriented strategies. President Tay chaired and introduced the
opening session of the Summit and Dr Jonas made a detailed presentation
setting the scene for the WCAR and the role of the Commission’s
dialogue with civil society. The Summit was also addressed by a range
of speakers who covered areas as diverse as racism in sport, the media,
employment and the education system. Leading academics presented papers
which highlighted that the commonly held view that rural Australia holds
more racist attitudes than the city is not true. They also canvassed
the new forms and languages of contemporary racism.

15 Regional consultations
covering every State and Territory of Australia

Once again these
consultations were in part made possible through the financial assistance
provided by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Throughout June
and July 2001, the Commission conducted 15 consultations with civil
society across all States and territories, in the following locations:

City
State
Perth,
Broome and Kalgoorlie
Western
Australia
Darwin
and Alice Springs
Northern
Territory
Melbourne
and Sale
Victoria
Adelaide
South
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
Cairns
and Brisbane
Queensland
Parramatta,
Orange and Newcastle
New
South Wales
Canberra
Australian
Capital Territory

"If you require
this information in a more accessible format, please contact paffairs@humanrights.gov.au
"

The Commission
directly invited community organisations and individuals across the
country to attend the forums. In a number of the centres advertisements
were placed in the local newspapers and radio interviews were conducted
prior to the consultations to encourage the general public to attend.
The Commission received support from State government agencies and local
community organisations in the preparation and promotion of the consultations.
The average attendance at the consultation workshops was 40 people.
With the largest consultation taking place in Melbourne where over 100
people attended. The attendees at the consultations represented a cross
section of society, including Indigenous peoples, representatives of
culturally and linguistically diverse background communities as well
as individual members of the wider community and representatives from
local, State and Commonwealth government agencies.

The consultations
were conducted over a full day. The participants covered the five major
themes of the WCAR and through two workshop sessions one entitled Sources,
causes and victims of racism and the other entitled Prevention and remedies
to combat racism. Then each consultation had a plenary session to develop
recommendations and strategies.

The outcomes of
each consultation and the Commission’s national report on the consultations
are available at the Commission’s web site: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/worldconference

Focus groups with specific
women’s communities

Culturally and Linguistically
Diverse Women’s Focus Groups

In June and July
2001 the Commission’s Sex Discrimination Unit in collaboration
with the Race Discrimination Unit conducted a series of consultations
with women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in
Sydney. The Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association of NSW was engaged
by the Commission to organise the consultations and ensure the participation
of women from various communities. Meetings were held with workers from
organisations working with refugee and newly arrived migrant women.
Additional meetings were held with women from Sydney’s Muslim and
Vietnamese communities. These meetings were organised in recognition
of the ongoing problems of discrimination against racially disadvantaged
women. A report of these consultations will form part of the Commission’s
final report.

Indigenous Women’s
Focus groups

In July 2001 it
is planned that to further the Commission’s inquiries into the
impact of the intersection of race and gender, officers from the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Unit and the Sex Discrimination
Unit would conduct focus groups with Indigenous women. Commission staff
will travel to areas in western New South Wales to gather information
that would assist in better understanding the experiences and issues
Indigenous Australian women living in rural and remote communities face
on a daily basis. Once again the findings of these consultations will
form part of the Commission’s final WCAR report.

Other community specific
consultations

Indigenous

While a broad community
consultation was organised in Melbourne, the Equal Opportunity Commission,
Victoria, on behalf of the Commission, conducted a community consultation
with Melbourne’s Indigenous community, after Indigenous representatives
made requests for a separate meeting.

Youth

In April 2001 the
Commission contributed funding and organisational assistance to the
Youth and Racism Forum held in Adelaide, organised by the peak youth
body in South Australia. A senior representative of the Commission also
addressed the forum on the WCAR and racism in Australia.

As a result of
this forum and the National Youth Forum held in Canberra on 7 May, the
participants from Western Australia and New South Wales have organised,
with the assistance of the Commission, similar state based forums.

Other community discussion
initiatives

Preparation, commissioning
and publishing of specific discussion papers on issues related to racism.
These were aimed to facilitate informed discussion and debate and also
to critically assess the current status of racism in Australia.

The Commission
developed a discussion paper entitled, Combating racism in Australia
and also produced Gender and Race intersectionality.
Both of these
papers and other relevant papers and outcomes of all the consultation
processes have been posted on our WCAR website.

The Combating
Racism in Australia
discussion paper was distributed to every member
of State and Commonwealth parliaments with a covering letter from Dr
Jonas informing them of the consultation process that the Commission
was undertaking, inviting them to provide comments on the discussion
paper and to pass on the information to their constituents.

Development of a specific
WCAR site within the Commission’s website.

In recognition
of the growing importance of the internet as a means of providing access
to community input the Commission established a WCAR specific site on
its general website. The WCAR site included relevant background documents,
reports and links to UN and NGO sites dealing with the WCAR. To facilitate
discussion and feedback a moderated bulleting board was established
and publicised widely through NGO networks and through our consultation
meetings. People were encouraged to make submissions and send us further
comments after each of the consultations.

During the period
from 7 May 2001, when the site went live, over 11,800 page views were
recorded on the WCAR site.

Approximately 40
submissions to the bulletin board have been received and posted on the
web site. These submissions and comments will inform the final report.

Nationally based meetings

The Non Government
(NGO) Forum held a meeting on 17 November 2000 where they discussed
their role in relation to WCAR participation and preparation. The Commission
addressed the meeting about its preparations for the WCAR and the engagement
it aimed to achieve with NGO’s.

The Commission
co-sponsored a meeting on 30 November 2000 on Women and Race. Dr Jonas
and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Susan Halliday addressed
the meeting. The meeting aimed to ensure that there would be specific
and effective input to the Commission’s WCAR preparations on the
issues of gender and racism.

An ATSIC Regional
meeting of Indigenous Peoples of Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Canada
and the United States of America was held in Sydney in February 2001
in preparation for the WCAR. Dr Jonas presented the opening address
to the Conference and participated in the deliberations of the Conference.
The outcomes of the Conference provided an important Indigenous perspective
to Australia’s contribution to the WCAR and have informed the preparations
of the Commission.

The Commission
participated on 23 February, in Sydney, in the Race and Gender Forum
organised by Association of Non English-Speaking Background Women of
Australia (ANESBWA) and Women’s Rights Action Network Australia
(WRANA). The Forum brought together Indigenous, immigrant and refugee
women to exchange experiences of racism and the intersection of racism
and gender. This is one of the key themes of the WCAR.

International activities

The Race Discrimination
Unit assisted the Asia Pacific Forum to develop a paper on the role
of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). Dr Jonas on 8 August
2000 attended the 5th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum in Rotorua,
New Zealand and delivered a speech addressing the role of national human
rights institutions in relation to the WCAR, the Commission’s work
in preparation for the Conference and the need for NHRIs in the region
to adopt a common set of recommendations to the Conference Secretariat.

Dr Jonas attended
a national conference on Racism in South Africa from 30 August–2
September 2000 hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission.
The Conference was the South African National meeting in preparation
for the World Conference against Racism to be held in South Africa at
the same time next year.

As part of the
WCAR preparations the UN arranged a number of regional workshops of
member States and the Commission was represented at the Asian Regional
Workshop which was held in Tehran in February 2001. The Commission presented
an oral report to the Workshop outlining its position on the WCAR and
issues in regard to the Draft Declaration and the Draft Programme of
Action.

Dr Jonas attended
the meeting of the Open-ended Inter-sessional Working Group of the WCAR
in Geneva from 6-9 March 2001. The meeting considered the draft declaration
and programme of action for the WCAR prepared by the High Commissioner
for Human Rights, at the request of States parties. A Commission position
paper on the then current draft was developed while in Geneva. The paper
reflected the position of the regional Indigenous peoples conference
in Sydney and the Asia-Pacific Forum paper on National Human Rights
Institutions.

While in Geneva
Dr Jonas also met with a range of organisations and individuals about
the WCAR. These included Penal Reform International, and staff of the
High Commissioner’s office. The meeting with the Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights was in the main to discuss the Commission’s
application for funding for national activities for the WCAR. Subsequently
the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights granted the
Commission $26,000 (US) which proved essential to the Commission being
able to undertake its Australian civil society consultations.

Further meetings
were also held in London and Ottawa about the WCAR. In particular, Dr
Jonas met with the Runnymede Trust which was undertaking community consultations
in Britain in preparation for the WCAR; The Canadian government Secretariat
for the WCAR and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

From 21 May to
8 June Dr Jonas attended the 2nd meeting of the Preparatory Committee
of the WCAR in Geneva. This meeting dealt with continued discussion
on the WCAR Draft Declaration and the Draft Programme of Action. After
the completion of the meeting it was decided to hold a 3rd Preparatory
Committee meeting from 31 July to 10 August and Dr Jonas would attend
part of the meeting.

Research and policy

Face the Facts

The Race Discrimination
Unit and the Aboriginal and Islander Social Justice Unit completed the
updating and editing of the revised version of the Face the Facts -
Some questions and answers about Immigration, Refugees and Indigenous
Affairs. Dr Jonas launched the publication 21 March 2001, the report
is available on the Commission’s website at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/racial_discrimination/face_facts/index.html
or in hard copy from the Commission.

As Dr Jonas states
in his introduction to Face the Facts:

“This booklet
is not only a resource for those who want to know more about Indigenous
Australians, immigration and refugees. It also serves as a reminder
to all of us that when we discuss these matters, we have a responsibility
to inform ourselves of the facts and speak on the basis of reason
and not unfounded myths”

Dr Jonas wrote
to all state Directors’ General of Education, seeking their assistance
with distribution in secondary schools. To date we have received positive
responses and have distributed over 10,000 copies to schools and the
wider community. Given the strong demand to date it is anticipated that
we will have distributed well in excess of 30,000 copies by the end
of 2001.

Race for Business

During the year
the Race Discrimination Unit has continued to promote and develop strategies
to refine the Race for Business train the trainers package.

On 26 October 2000
Dr Jonas addressed a large gathering of business, media, trainer and
community representatives at a meeting in Adelaide convened by the South
Australian Multicultural Ethnic Affairs Commission (SAMEAC) and hosted
by Business SA. Dr Jonas canvassed the importance of the Race for Business
package as a means of assisting the business sector in developing workplaces
free of racial discrimination through practical and achievable guidelines.

As part of the
ongoing refinement of Race for Business, meetings were held throughout
major capital cities with potential strategic partners among trainers
and peak bodies such as Industry Training Advisory Boards, TAFEs, business
and individual managers within the public and private sectors. As part
of this process the Race Discrimination Unit organised a workshop, which
was conducted by the Executive Director of Health and Community Sector
Industry Training Advisory Board in November 2000 with experienced cross-cultural
trainers. The aim was to identify if the Race for Business package could
be customised according to the Australian National Training Authority’s
(ANTA) train the trainer criteria or if a new cross-cultural competency
criteria needed to be devised. The outcomes of the workshop have assisted
the Race Discrimination Unit in clarifying the required updating and
refining of the package.

Rugby League - Racial and
Religious Vilification Policy

Dr Jonas was approached
by the NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) requesting assistance in a review of
their Racial and Religious Vilification policy, which the Race Discrimination
Unit helped draft in 1997.

The President of
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Operational
Manager of the NSWRL signed a Memorandum of Understanding in early 2001.The
Memorandum outlines procedures for the referral to the Commission’s
Complaint Handling Section of complaints under the League’s Racial
and Religious Vilification Code of Conduct.

Water

The Race Discrimination
Unit has taken the comprehensive review of the 1994 Water Report, which
was completed by Dr Bruce Walker of the Centre for Appropriate Technology
and edited into a public report entitled Review of the Water Report.
Part of the process for preparing the final public document included
a visit by Dr Jonas to Alice Springs to hold meetings with the consultant
and visit one of the Aboriginal case study communities - the Mpweringe-Arnapipe
community, about 75kms north of Alice Springs.

The review documents
significant advances that have been achieved since 1994. However, long-term
assurances of funding, for new capital works and on going maintenance
and sustainability, need to be addressed by and between the Commonwealth,
State and Territory governments.

Alcohol

Special Measures
Certificates

Following on from
the 1995 Alcohol Report the Race Discrimination Commissioner continues
to be approached by local Indigenous communities requesting restrictions
on the sale of distribution of alcohol to their community members.

During September
2000 the Commissioner received an application from the Wiluna Aboriginal
Community in Western Australia requesting renewal of the ‘Special
Measures Certificate’ that has been in force in recent years. The
Race Discrimination Unit worked with the relevant parties to agree on
the issuing of a new certificate, which is valid until 31 August 2001.
The special measure certificates are issued under s8 of the Racial Discrimination
Act 1975 after the Aboriginal communities and other relevant parties
have negotiated agreements locally.

Dry Zones

Over recent years
the Commissioner has had to address issues relating to the introduction
of alcohol dry zones by local Councils, which have adverse impacts on
Indigenous communities. One such case, which has been of concern to
communities for over five years, was the proposal by the Adelaide City
Council to introduce a dry zone in the Adelaide central business district.
This would have had an adverse impact on the Kaurna Aboriginal people
who frequent the Victoria Square precinct in Adelaide. Letters on this
matter to Adelaide Council, state government ministers and officials
were previously sent by former Race Discrimination and Aboriginal and
Islander Social Justice Commissioners.

The case came to
prominence once more when the Adelaide City Council was to consider
the introduction of the dry zone proposal at its September 2000 meeting.

Dr Jonas made representations
to the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Adelaide City Councillors, the Chief
of Police, the Liquor Licensing Commissioner, and the Minister for Aboriginal
Affairs and the South Australian Premier.

After Dr Jonas’s
representations the Council deliberations lead to the development of
a detailed Plan of Action, which involves broad consultation with all
stakeholders and consideration of a range of options to deal with alcohol
and drug dependency.

The State Government
and Adelaide City Council have since decided to introduce a blanket
dry zone for the Adelaide Central Business District for a 12 month trial
period. Dr Jonas will continue to monitor this issue.

Other activities

City of Dandenong

Representatives
of the City of Dandenong council and community organisations in Melbourne
approached the Racial Discrimination Unit about racial vilification
in their local area.

On September 29
2000, Dr Jonas visited the area’s refugee, immigrant and Indigenous
communities. He visited a number of religious organizations, including
the Orthodox, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian organizations and
met several community leaders. A specific meeting was held with members
of the Serbian community to update on developments relating to the racist
violence on that community in the past several months. Dr Jonas also
visited the Bunerong Co-operative of the local Indigenous community.

Dr Jonas and gave
a keynote address at a civic reception held in his honour where he discussed
issues of racial vilification and how to work towards a community which
is more inclusive and accepting of difference.  

Media reporting

The Race Discrimination
Unit was approached by representatives of the Vietnamese community in
Adelaide in regard to their concerns with the reporting of issues relating
to Vietnamese youth in the Adelaide Advertiser.

Dr Jonas agreed
to follow up on the matter and in July 2000 agreed to facilitate a meeting
between the Editor of the Adelaide Advertiser, representatives of the
Vietnamese Community of South Australia and the Multicultural Communities
Council of South Australia. At the meeting the parties came to an in
principle agreement that community representatives and the editorial
staff of the newspaper would develop closer working relationships. The
aim is to improve the media reporting of issues relating to culturally
and linguistically diverse communities.

Housing

Dr Jonas met with
the national Board of Directors of the Real Estate Institute of Australia
(REIA), together with the State elected presidents and the Chief Executive
Officers of the state Institutes, on 3 July in Adelaide.

Dr Jonas delivered
a speech outlining the application of the Racial Discrimination Act
to the real estate industry and the complaints and reported experiences
of racial discrimination in real estate. This included highlighting
some of cases from the ‘New Country, New Stories’ report prepared
by the Race Discrimination Unit in September 1999.

The speech specifically
addressed the need for the industry to develop national professional
standards, similar to those in operation in other countries, to prevent
racial discrimination in the provision of housing and ensure compliance
with the Act.

International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

The Race Discrimination
Unit prepared a submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights by way of background to its consideration of Australia’s
report under ICESCR later this year. The submission dealt with the two-year
waiting period for social security benefits, which applies to all newly
arrived migrants. In his submission Dr Jonas canvassed the two year
waiting period requirement in relation to ICESCR article 2 (Full realisation
of rights under the ICESCR) and article 9 (Right to social security
and social insurance).

Speeches

Attached is a selection
of speeches, seminars and presentations made by Dr Jonas in the reporting
period. Selected papers are available on the Commission’s website
at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/speeches/.

3 July 00, Dr Jonas
presented a paper to the Board of the Real Estate Institute of Australia,
state Real Estate Institute Presidents and CEOs.

 8 August
00, Dr Jonas presented a paper to the Asia Pacific Forum in New Zealand.

29 September 00,
Dr Jonas presented a keynote address to the Councillors and Community
at a Civic reception in his honour at Dandenong Council Victoria.

26 October 00,
Dr Jonas delivered a speech at a Race for Business Forum organised by
the SA Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission, Adelaide.

6 November 00,
Dr Jonas delivered a speech at the Cyberhate: Bigotry and Prejudice
on the Internet conference, Sydney.

9 November 00,
Dr Jonas launched an RDU publication, On the Sidelines, Perth.

10 November 00,
Dr Jonas delivered a speech at the FECCA Conference on “Human Rights
in Multicultural Australia – Retrospect and Prospect”, Perth.

10 November 00,
Dr Jonas delivered a speech at the Western Australians for Racial Equality
Annual General Meeting, Perth.

30 November 00,
Dr Jonas addressed the HREOC Women and Race Forum on the World Conference
on Racism, Sydney

20 February 01,
Dr Jonas addressed the opening session at the Conference of Indigenous
Peoples and Racism, A Regional Meeting for the United Nations World
Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance, Sydney.

21 February 01,
Panel discussion and workshop session at the Conference of Indigenous
People of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States –
Indigenous Peoples and Racism, Sydney on the theme of prevention of
racism.

7 May 01, Dr Jonas
delivered a speech to the National Youth Forum on Racism

8 May 01, Dr Jonas
delivered a speech to Racism and civil society: A national summit on
Racism

13 June 01, Addressed
HREOC staff and representatives from NGOs regarding the status of the
preparatory Committee deliberations for the WCAR.

June 01, Dr Jonas
delivered a speech to a number of regional consultations for the WCAR.