The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has today welcomed key recommendations by an ACT Legislative Assembly committee aimed at better protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from migrant and refugee backgrounds from racism and discrimination.
The recommendations in the Inquiry into Racial Vilification report [pdf], published today by the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education and Community Inclusion, reflect ongoing advocacy by ACTCOSS and other community sector partners on issues including systemic bias and discrimination in our government institutions and the daily experience of racism by many people living in the Canberra. The Committee’s recommendations included:
- Development of an anti-racism strategy for the ACT Government for the ACT
- Prioritising funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations
- Provision of intensive support through organisations led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure that removal of children from their families is an absolute last resort
- The establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled housing organisation
- Comprehensive training aimed at preventing racial vilification to be mandatorily undertaken by all members of ACT Policing, ACT Corrective Services, Child and Youth Protection Services and Housing ACT
- Legislative changes to ensure the ACT Policing is held accountable for racism and discrimination in its operations; and
- Improvements to processes for lodging complaints about experiences of racism and discrimination.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT Government and ACT Policing must increase its efforts to remove racism and discrimination if we are serious about creating a community that is inclusive, just and fair.
“The Committee’s key recommendations reflect the advocacy of ACTCOSS and other leading organisations such as Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and Canberra Multicultural Community Forum in relation to ongoing experiences of racial vilification.
“ACTCOSS strongly supports the recommendations focused on improving the cultural competency of the ACT Government and ACT Policing in regard to their engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in the ACT.
“We also strongly support Recommendation 13 which calls for the introduction of a bill to amend the Discrimination Act 1991 so that it also applies to ACT Policing,” said Dr Campbell.
However, ACTCOSS said that the Committee had missed an opportunity to recommend ongoing funding for a peak body to represent Canberrans from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
Dr Campbell continued: “The ACT Government must commit to implementing and funding strategies that can tackle overt, systemic or unconscious discrimination in the Canberra community.
“This must include additional resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and permanent and sufficient funding for a peak body advocating on behalf of the ACT’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
“ACTCOSS will be working closely with our partners and the ACT Government to ensure these important recommendations are funded and implemented so that we can achieve a more just and inclusive community for all Canberrans that is free of racism and discrimination,” Dr Campbell concluded.
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.