Saturday, 18 February 2017

Government attack on racism

Racist tirades on public transport, bigotry in schools, and discrimination in the rental market face a crackdown as part of a state-wide push to counter the rise of the far right in Victoria.

Amid concerns the community has reached a tipping point, the Andrews government will today launch a new campaign to reframe the debate on multiculturalism in the wake of events such as Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump and the growth of One Nation.

"I see this in part as a struggle between fear and hope," said Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott, who will unveil the strategy with Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday. "It's important for the future of our community that hope wins."

The campaign begins  on Sunday night with a television ad featuring Victorians from diverse backgrounds, and an underlying message of shared values and common goals.

"No matter where we're from, we all do our bit, making Victoria the best place on earth – so let's be proud of it," says the voiceover.

A $1 million anti-racism action plan has also been developed with a focus on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The plan includes:

* New measures to crack down on commuters who racially abuse people on public transport.

* A broad-ranging review to stamp out discrimination and "unconscious bias" against some people who seek approval to rent a home.

* A revamp of the Respectful Relationships school curriculum to teach students about prejudice and discrimination.

* "Bystander awareness training" to help people respond accordingly when they experience or witness racism.

* Tougher complaint mechanisms to ensure the reporting of racism is taken seriously by authorities.

Over the next few months, the government will work with Public Transport Victoria to develop new measures to combat racist incidents on trams, trains and buses, although it is too early to say if this will lead to tougher fines and penalties.

Some famous superheroes knew about the damaging effects of racism and bigotry even back in the 40s-50s!

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