Following the devastating terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand and the Dutch city of Utrecht, now more than ever, we need to combat feelings of racism, xenophobia and islamophobia from permeating our conversations with others.
Today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we need to echo the theme for 2019: mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies. We need to facilitate this in all that we do and work towards educating others by having conversations that truly matter.
What we can learn from Christchurch is that love conquers all. The simple message of #HelloBrother speaks louder than a thousand other words. These are the messages we need to echo as we welcome people of all nationalities, ethnicities, religious backgrounds or gender into our country and into our lives.
Closer to home, today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and we need to take the time to acknowledge the health and life expectancy gap between the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous communities in Australia.
IDERD is an annual awareness event that promotes what we as a community can do better to address these issues.
When we discuss issues of equality and opportunities, we have to accept that there is a distinct separation between people without proper access to amenities or health care and the more advantaged. We live in a wealthy country in Australia, and in the past ten years since 2008, we have not done enough to close this gap amongst our own people.
At Amnesty, we advocate for a number of recommendations to reduce this distance between all Australians. Here are five ways we can work towards a more equal Australia:
– No strategy involving an overhaul of services delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be implemented without extensive consultation of the afore-mentioned people. Any new recommendations should be reviewed by said peoples and implemented in conjunction with those impacted by the strategy.
– Strategies are needed to properly address long-term issues in the communities including maternal and infant health, foetal alcohol syndrome and the long-term behavioural implications of a FASD diagnosis, youth suicide and self-harm, alcoholism and mental health. This needs to be resolved collaboratively with Aboriginal elders, in the communities, from the ground up.
– Communities need sufficient health infrastructure and housing plans to accommodate equality amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It is in this equality where everyone has access to the same care and basic needs, where these diverse communities thrive.
– More opportunities for Aboriginal employment opportunities, exclusively available to those of Aboriginal descent (Section 50 [d] of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1984)
– Inclusion of all people regardless of what they look like, where they’ve come from or their background. Get to know an Aboriginal person, find out more about the country’s history and change the way you think through empowerment and knowledge. That is the greatest gift of all – acceptance.
Ending racial discrimination and inequality is about Aboriginal people taking control of their own health and empowering them to do so. The aim is not to fix the problem; it’s to support the people by giving them the right tools to take their power back. True success is not doing something for someone – it’s helping them just enough so they can do it for themselves.
#TheyAreUs. All of them. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Syrian, Egyptian, British, Chinese, Filipino, Somali, Russian, Swedish, Afghani, Sudanese, French, Bangladeshi, New Zealander, Asylum Seeker – we are one country, one world and all of our voices matter. Take every opportunity to turn hate into love and embrace your neighbours. They. Are. Us.
Words by Jacqui O’Leary