Joint media release: As coronavirus-racism increases, ACTCOSS and CMCF support Minister’s call for national anti-racism strategy

11 May 2020

Joint media release, ACTCOSS and Canberra Multicultural Community Forum.
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum (CMCF) have joined together and welcomed the joint statement by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Mr Chris Steel MLA and the Minister for Justice and Mental Health Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA condemning the rise in racist incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This condemnation came after the ACT Discrimination Commissioner Karen Toohey noted that reports to the ACT Human Rights Commission of racist incidents had increased in recent weeks, including against health workers and retail staff.
Minister Rattenbury encouraged victims of racist acts to report those attacks and asked that Canberrans call out racist behaviour when they see it where safe, or otherwise stand and bear witness – a position ACTCOSS and CMCF support wholeheartedly.
Minister Steel noted that, “More than ever there is a need for national leadership and a national anti-racism strategy with an effective campaign to address racism.”
ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “We congratulate the ACT Discrimination Commissioner and Ministers Rattenbury and Steel for taking a strong stance against racism.
“ACTCOSS and CMCF support Minister Steel’s call for a national anti-racism strategy. In February, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) called for the establishment of a specific COVID-19 national anti-racism strategy and campaign designed to address the rising tide of subtle racism and discrimination in the community.
“We agree with FECCA and Minister Steel, that a national anti-racism strategy and campaign is needed now more than ever,” Dr Campbell said.
CMCF Chairperson, Chin Wong, said: “ACTCOSS and CMCF look forward to supporting the ACT Government in their effort to address racism in our community. We encourage victims and witnesses to report racism and discrimination directly to the ACT Human Rights Commission.”
Mrs Wong concluded: “As a community we need to make it clear to everyone that racism is not tolerated, and we need to educate people about the damage and extreme hurt that racism causes.”
Reports of racism and discrimination in the ACT can be made directly to the ACT Human Rights Commission by contacting 02 6205 2222 and/or [email protected].
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.
CMCF works for a fair and harmonious Canberra community, which supports and celebrates cultural diversity.
For more information or comment, please contact:
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617,
Mrs Chin Wong, Chairperson, CMCF, on 0417 686 096.

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