Multicultural organisation Together For Humanity welcomes Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan’s call for a national anti-racism framework, but says that a focus on prevention is key to effect longstanding change.

Together For Humanity’s National Director, Zalman Kastel AM said that it is important that such a strategy goes beyond what we are against – racism.

“We must focus on prevention and ensuring Australians of different backgrounds understand each other, have empathy and feel they belong with their fellow Australians. Our recent results are good in this regard, but not good enough,” he said.

Together For Humanity teaches tolerance, understanding and respect for all others. The not-for-profit has been working with school communities to combat prejudice, teaching students how to deal with differences for nearly two decades.

“We are a multicultural organisation that is actively preventing racism. An example of this is helping children make friends with children from different backgrounds. We endorse the Commissioner’s call for a national anti-racism framework that reflects Australians’ commitment to inclusion, equality and social cohesion.

“Mr Tan is correct in saying “measures to address racism will be more effective when accompanied by measures to promote social cohesion, inclusion and equal opportunity and participation.”

Rabbi Kastel said “the research is clear – we need more than slogans. We need a coordinated approach based on the evidence that brings Australians of different backgrounds together, developing empathy and greater understanding. It is not enough to pass each other in supermarket aisles or play against each other in sport.

“Diverse societies are wonderful almost all of the time, especially if you work at it. And many of us do, but sometimes we fail to get a good enough result. Many Australians pulled together during COVID, but the treatment of many Chinese Australians demonstrates that our approach is not robust enough to prevent bigotry from some who are out-of-step with community standards,” he said.

In the wake of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, Rabbi Kastel said the outcomes of a national strategy must include high levels of empathy and acceptance between Australians of different backgrounds, confidence to interact with each other and an absence of fear of others, a strong sense of belonging together among all Australians, and a willingness to challenge prejudice if it occurs.

These outcomes have been achieved by Together For Humanity’s work as verified by Western Sydney University[1], and can be scaled up nationally.

 

 

[1]  Gale, F., Edenborough, M., Boccanfuso, E., Hawkins, M., & Sell, C. (2019), Western Sydney University, Australia. Promoting intercultural understanding, connectedness and belonging: An independent qualitative evaluation of Together For Humanity programs.