News : Article

Outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner calls for urgent action

Graphic: Commissioners and partners at the launch of Commission anti-racism partnership

Dr Tim Soutphommasane said there was a need for strong anti-racism policies and leadership, given the rise of anti-immigration and far-right populism.

Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Australia's outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner, has called for urgent action to reduce racism at the launch of his final report before stepping down this week.

The report – Anti-Racism in 2018 and Beyond – is part of the partnership-based National Anti-Racism Strategy, which was launched in 2012.

"Since 2015, race has dominated headlines and driven public debates in a way that many would not have anticipated when the National Anti-Racism Strategy was last evaluated," Dr Soutphommasane said.

"Anti-racism efforts must give voice to the individuals and communities who experience it. Racial prejudice and discrimination have profound silencing effects on those who are their targets," he said.

The report looks at the multiple causes of racism and the need for organisations, communities and individuals to not only identify racism, but call it out and build strategies that change behaviours.

It also highlights the need for strong anti-racism policies and leadership, given the rise of anti-immigration and far-right populism.

Dr Soutphommasane says every person can make a difference.

"The causes of racism are multiple. It can be caused not just by ignorance but also by arrogance; it can be caused by malice as well as by lazy assumptions," he said.

"While the causes are sometimes found in attitudes and behaviour, they can also be the result of systems and institutions."

Date: 14 August 2018

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission


Dr Tim Soutphommasane at his final public presentation as Race Discrimination Commissioner

"Five years ago, I wouldn't have said it was likely that we would see the resurgence of far-right politics. I wouldn't have expected that the biggest threats to racial harmony would come from within our parliaments and media."

In his final public address, Dr Soutphommasane urged Australians to continue the fight against racism, prejudice and discrimination, warning that Australia's racial harmony is under threat.


Image credits

  1. Commissioners and partners at the launch of Commission anti-racism partnership - Australian Human Rights Commission
  2. Dr Tim Soutphommasane at his final public presentation as Race Discrimination Commissioner - Australian Human Rights Commission