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'First-aid for racism': New workshops to tackle a rise in anti-Asian racism

9 September 2020 at 5:12 pm
Luke Michael
This initiative is designed to counter a rise in racism against Asian people in Australia

Luke Michael | 9 September 2020 at 5:12 pm


'First-aid for racism': New workshops to tackle a rise in anti-Asian racism
9 September 2020 at 5:12 pm

This initiative is designed to counter a rise in racism against Asian people in Australia

A new series of online workshops is looking to fill a gap in the mental health system by supporting people who experience racism but do not feel their situation is severe enough to see a counsellor or psychologist.                          

Resilience Against Racism workshops – which launch on 17 September – aim to help people build personal and community resilience to deal with racism.                                                             

The initiative is led by Cultural Intelligence CEO Wesa Chau and Beyond Story CEO Christine Yeung, and funded by Study Melbourne’s International Student Welfare Program and the Scanlon Foundation. 

Chau said the workshops came in response to a rise in anti-Asian racism in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic and the difficulties in dealing with this. 

“There is a gap in the current support system where racism is not typically serious enough for people to seek counselling services or psychologists because it may not be directly associated with mental illness,” Chau said.

“However, racist incidents still have a significant and negative psychological impact on people. This is why we’re launching Resilience Against Racism to support our communities as they deal with and combat racism in their own lives.”

Driven by an evidence-based approach, these workshops are run by trained culturally-diverse workplace psychologists and co-designed by people with lived experience and culturally diverse social innovators.

Chau told Pro Bono News that Resilience Against Racism was like “first-aid for racism” and provided a first point of call for people, who could then be referred to other services.

She noted that the program’s design was led by Yeung, a leading Asian-Australian workplace psychologist, and consisted of a three-level resilience model.

“Workplace psychologists work with people’s strengths and let people work through emotional issues and not see it as a sickness. And we think it’s a very good approach to actually help people through a difficult time,” she said.

“We want to be able to build people to become strong and use their strengths.”

Chau said while the workshops were geared towards Asian-Australians, the content was applicable to other groups who may experience racism.

She added that the workshops would provide individual debriefing support as well.

“We want to offer individualised support to really help people understand their own situation and [allow them] to move through the adversity as well,” she said.

“And when people finish our program, we encourage them to perform an act of kindness so that it can spread to the community and build community resilience.

“So even though they don’t necessarily come back to our program, we want them to spread the philosophy and the intent of the program to other people as well.”

Yeung said the program was designed using combined research into resilience, racism and racial identity.

She said everyone had the power to help others deal with these issues.

“[This happens by] firstly removing psychological barriers for themselves and building community resilience through acts of kindness to neighbours, family and friends,” Yeung said.

“True healing starts when the past is acknowledged, the present is being embraced and the future is hopeful.”

You can find out more about the workshops here.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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