In March 2021, Chin Tan, Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) called for the National Anti-Racism Framework (Framework) in recognition of the ongoing prevalence and need for a coordinated response across all sectors.
Racist behaviour has significant impacts on a person’s participation in community life. Over the years, people from refugee backgrounds consulted by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) have shared many experiences of racism at work, in public places, on public transport and in social activities such as sporting clubs. These experiences of racism cause people to disengage from community life. Many have told us how they no longer go out in public because of experiences of racially motivated verbal and physical abuse. This had led to isolation, exclusion and mental health issues.
Racism undermines the successful settlement of people from refugee backgrounds. It not only harms the individual, but society as a whole. It deepens mistrust, casting suspicion on all sides.
RCOA was invited to the Commission’s Multicultural Advisory Group that guides the development, design, and implementation of the Framework. The Framework will be a long term, central reference point to guide actions on anti-racism by government, non-government organisations, business, communities, and other sectors.
In February 2022, RCOA also made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) draft National Anti-Racism Framework (the Framework) during the public consultation period. The submission drew on RCOA’s previous research on multiculturalism and social cohesion and the impact of refugee and asylum policies on racism and community cohesion.
In our submission, we outlined the experience of refugees and people seeking asylum, the impacts of racism on their communities, social inclusion, and community cohesion. We made eleven recommendations which would strengthen the Framework and respond to the intersection of refugee status and racial discrimination.
These recommendations include the need for consistent data collection including information on visa type, ensuring the legal framework protects non-citizens (including temporary protection and bridging visa holders) against racial discrimination, we also suggest employment, media an education sectors be prioritised for antiracist campaigns.