International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Today on this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Federation members are reminded of their responsibility as educators to organise, act and educate against racism in all its forms.

Federation’s Anti – Racism Policy applies to all Federation members and employees and through its decisions and policies, will heed the voices of its members and students who are subjected to racial abuse, discrimination or vilification.

On this very day, the Federal Coalition will be discussing its potential changes to the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), in particular 18C. Section 18C of the RDA makes it unlawful to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate’ someone because of their race or ethnicity. Section 18C and 18D were introduced to the RDA in 1995 in response to recommendations of major inquiries including the National Inquiry into Racist Violence, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Multiculturalism and the Law report.

Any attempt to change Section 18C to allow offending, insulting, humiliating or intimidating of a person due to their race to be lawful, must be rejected in the strongest possible way. Apart from the huge impact on individuals, the signal to the broader community would impact on social cohesion and inclusion, values which public school teachers, students and their communities hold dear.

Members are urged to email their opposition to changes to 18C to their local coalition Members of Parliament or Barnaby Joyce who has said that this is not an issue that is important to Australians.

The Australian Human Rights Commission found in a survey of 2380 young people aged 13 – 17 that 87% had either experienced or witnessed racism. That racism was found to most commonly occur at school (43%) or online (33%).

For copies of Federation’s Anti – racism policy, charter, ccampaign resources such as posters, information about racism, good practice case studies as well as professional readings, go to Federation’s Anti – racism website or contact Amber Flohm, Federation’s Multicultural Officer/Organiser on multicultural@nswtf.org,au

There are a number of other resources to assist members to address racism in their classrooms and workplaces, as well as in their wider community.

The Human Rights Commission’s campaign ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’, of which the Federation is a proud supporter.

‘What you say matters’ particularly targets a youth audience while the UN also provides a plethora of resources on racial discrimination.

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