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Let’s talk about racism

17 July 2019 at 4:42 pm
Wendy Williams
How does race shape our lives? What does racism look like? What can we do to address it?

Wendy Williams | 17 July 2019 at 4:42 pm


Let’s talk about racism
17 July 2019 at 4:42 pm

How does race shape our lives? What does racism look like? What can we do to address it?

These are some of the questions highlighted in a guide to having conversations about racism, launched by The Australian Human Rights Commission to coincide with the premiere of The Final Quarter.

The documentary, which will screen on Channel 10 on Thursday, explores the treatment of AFL star and former Australian of the Year Adam Goodes in the final three years of his playing career.

The film, the first of two documentaries being released on Goodes over the coming months, has prompted the AFL Players Association’s Indigenous Advisory Board to urge every Australian to commit to watching The Final Quarter, and saw the AFL issue an unreserved apology to Goodes.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said the film offered Australia an opportunity to have a tough, but much needed, conversation about racism.

“For many people, talking about racism can be difficult. Many of us feel like we don’t know how to start the conversation or we’re afraid to say the wrong thing,” Tan said.

Let’s talk race: A guide on how to conduct conversations about racism has been designed to complement the documentary and encourage organisations to conduct meaningful and productive conversations about racism. 

It argues that a new approach is needed and makes the case for organisations to deal with racism in a proactive, rather than a reactive, way.

“This will make organisations more inclusive and resilient. It will have important social and cultural impacts outside of the organisation too,” it said.

Tan said he hoped the guide would help people navigate their way through meaningful and productive discussions, to not only identify racism, but to build strategies to change behaviours. 

The guide is divided into three parts: information on cultural diversity in Australia; detailed guidance on how to conduct a conversation about racism in your organisation; and a guide on how to keep the conversation on track. 

It also covers key questions about how to approach the conversation as well as who should attend, who should facilitate, the time allowed, the materials needed and ground rules that need to be set.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO said Australians needed to find the courage to have the honest conversations and to agree, how as individuals, they will not tolerate racism and discrimination.

“We are diminished as a country if we can’t look at The Final Quarter documentary with a sense of sadness and regret and commit to moving forward with a sense of determination about eliminating racism,” Oscar said.

She described The Final Quarter, which uses only archival footage aired at the time, as powerful and confronting, and said it showed how deeply racism could hurt.

“The film holds a mirror to Australia and highlights the painful consequences of racism. It also challenges us to work harder to combat it,” Oscar said.

“As a country, we need to talk about what happened to Adam Goodes, one of the country’s greatest sporting heroes. We also need to talk about the fact that there are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who wake up each day and continue to experience racism in this country.”

Director Ian Darling said as a nation, Australia still hadn’t finished the conversation about racism that Goodes asked it to have.

He said his aim with this film was the same as that expressed by Goodes’ in his Australian of the Year acceptance speech: “The real reward is when everyone is talking to their mates, to their families and to their children, having those conversations and educating others about racism. What it looks like, how hurtful and how pointless it is, and how we can eliminate it.”

The latest guide forms part of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Racism. It Stops with Me campaign.

The Final Quarter will screen on Channel 10 on Thursday 18 July at 7.30pm. 

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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  • Gloria says:

    Isn’t all unquestioned ‘separation’ from, and ‘judgement’ about, others a reflection of how we are separate from our own selves – how we would unconsciously judge ourselves if we saw ourselves as that which we project onto others – what we fear about ourselves – the fearful beliefs we were ‘taught’?
    Coming to look at, and take responsibility for, what we project outside is painful but necessary for inner healing and peace – and coming to know that the same energies, heart, spirit, soul, desires are within all no matter what the outside looks like.
    When we have self compassion and respect it naturally flows out to all our brothers and sisters.
    Little ones don’t know this ‘separation’ they only know love and companionship and the desire to enjoy being with each other.
    Let us all heal these wounds.

  • Peter Simpson says:

    Talk about name calling I got called multiple times “white Aussie racist MAGGOT” simple because I declined the offer of someone to push my wheelchair as I did not need pushing and all I said was “no thank you do not need push” and got given the finger after I got off the bus.

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