Committee: Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM)
Delegate: Allison Wei, Troy High School
Racism and Xenophobia
At the heart of combating racism and xenophobia is acknowledging diversity and embracing it as the asset that it truly is. Australia acknowledges that there have been historical incidents of racism, such as its “White Australia Policy” on migration. However, since Australia adopted an official policy of multiculturalism in 1979, Australia has been deeply committed to celebrating its diverse population.Through our longtime partnership with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, the Australian Human Rights Commission has released many annual Anti-Racism strategies to empower communities to stand up to such hateful behavior. Keeping Australia’s 2018 Anti-Racism strategy in mind, Australia prioritizes three main areas: raising awareness around racism and xenophobia, educating the public and private sector on how to effectively combat racism, and implementing legislative action to reduce the presence of racism and xenophobia both online and in the physical world.
One of the fundamental components of combating racism is raising awareness to motivate public action and change. In 2015, Australia launched the “RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME” digital public awareness campaign to tremendous success. This campaign spotlighted prominent anti-racism advocates who encouraged others to not be bystanders and instead, identify and call out casual racism. Given the uptick of racism and xenophobic attitudes on social media platforms, this campaign educates youth and adults on how to stand up to cyber-racism and casual racism. Additionally, by partnering with the Australian Football League (AFL) and other local sports organizations, we were able to spark much needed dialogue on how to foster more inclusive environments within our communities, specifically in the context of sports. Public awareness campaigns such as these are especially important because they give survivors of racism and xenophobia a voice and a platform, as most of the anti-racism advocates experienced racism/xenophobia themselves. It is only right that they be given the opportunity to tell their stories. By harnessing the power of media, we can establish counter narratives to racist/xenophobia rhetoric, fostering greater awareness and conversations around such important issues.
But it is not enough to simply raise awareness, racism is a largely cultural issue; to stop it, we must change the culture around it. As much as racial progress in Australia has been made, minorities are still at risk of experiencing racism in their daily environments – in Australia particularly, migrant workers, international students, and Muslims are most vulnerable. Education has proved an effective tool in facilitating such culture shifts and preventing the rise of racism/xenophobia long term. In conjunction with the launch of the “RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME” campaign, the Australian Human Rights Commission hosted many educational workshops on the impact of institutional racism. These workshops were specifically offered to senior leaders and executives from governmental, educational, legal, and medical fields – fields where there has historically been racial discrimination. Since racism/xenophobia often occurs on the job, it is necessary to educate senior leaders so that they can set an example for their respective industries. Of the racial discrimination complaints the Australian Human Rights Commission received in 2013-2014, 37% were related to areas of employment. Bias training and diversity workshops are a vital part of changing workplace culture to be more tolerant.
However, education and awareness initiatives will only be effective if supported by the correct legislative framework. Besides basic legislation – for example, the Australian Racial Discrimination Act – we must make sure that our laws are up to date and sufficient in combating racism/xenophobia in our modern world. Recently, Australia passed the “Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material Bill” that seeks to limit the spread of graphic hate crime content – often xenophobic/racist in nature – online. Following the recent anti-migrant statements made by certain Australian politicians – these statements were readily denounced by our prime minister – it is especially important for Australia to take a stand against racism and xenophobia online. This bill is an important step in addressing the racism and xenophobia that has run rampant online – particularly worrying is the rise of far-right extremist groups that only fuel the anti-immigrant sentiment. Australia strongly recommends that other countries follow suit with similar legislation so that perpetrators of racism and xenophobia are held accountable.
Awareness, education, and legislation are important stepping stones to reaching our overall goal of combating racism and xenophobia. The delegation of Australia is excited to work together in committee to foster a more diverse and accepting global community that stands up in the face of injustice and discrimination.
- Allison Wei