Editorial: Race & Discrimination

By André Dao
A line of people in different colours

As the world celebrates and marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March 2012, it’s worth looking at Australia’s record on racial discrimination. The issue has again been in the news as the AFL examines clubs’ recruitment policies towards Indigenous players. However, although the issue of race is often most prominent in sport, discrimination is by no means confined to the football field. As the Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, Helen Szoke, notes, the evidence tells us that racism exists in Australia – the question is, what are we going to do about it?

This month’s focus on Race & Discrimination shows that there is good news on that front. Sarah Hunt reports on the multicultural successes of community broadcasting, and Steaphan Paton and his team of artists bring the Doolaghal, an Aboriginal spiritual creature, to the laneways of Melbourne. Meanwhile, Tseen Khoo talks about the Asian Australian Studies network and what it was like growing up Asian in Brisbane in the 1970s.

The legal system’s approach to tackling racial discrimination is explored by Dominique Allen, and Professor Robyn Carrol discusses the impact of apologies in discrimination cases. Meanwhile, Holly Kendall looks at the lessons to be learnt by the Federal Government from State and Territory discrimination laws and Ernst Willheim questions the role of governments in public law litigation and their obligation to be non-discriminatory. Simon Rice OAM explores the differences between racial and religious vilification in our discrimination law.

Sam Ryan attended the launch of “Listening but not Hearing”, a report on the Stronger Futures legislation which highlights the Government’s intention to continue the discriminatory practices of the Northern Territory Intervention. A little further afield, Marie Ngiam questions Australia’s response to human trafficking from Burma, which disproportionately impacts on ethnic minorities, and Sonia Nair compares Australian experiences of racism with those around the world.

Finally, Priscilla Brice-Weller and Yin Paradies from All Together Now ask how we should discuss racism, alongside a really great video of vox pops from people on the street talking about their experiences of racism.