News

New institute puts systemic racism on the national agenda


30 August 2012

Dr Dinesh Wadiwel: "In order to address systemic racism effectively we need to take seriously the legacy of racially discriminatory laws and policies."
Dr Dinesh Wadiwel: "In order to address systemic racism effectively we need to take seriously the legacy of racially discriminatory laws and policies."

The unveiling of the National Anti-Racism Strategy in Melbourne on Friday marked an early but significant successful engagement for the University of Sydney's newly established Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR).

The strategy, which was launched by Attorney General the Hon. Nicola Roxon, MP, includes a focus on addressing systemic racism, which was a key focus of the IDHR submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Dr Dinesh Wadiwel, a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, led the submission, and believes that the new National Anti-Racism Strategy provides opportunities to put systemic racism on the agenda

"While the National Anti-Racism Strategy campaign 'Racism. It stops with me' has a lot of focus on addressing individual racism, such as verbal abuse and name-calling, there is also promising commitment to addressing systemic racism," said Dr Wadiwel.

"Systemic racial discrimination will affect employment, education and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds," continued Dr Wadiwel. "This is the sort of hidden racism that is embedded in laws, institutions, policies and practices which leads to unequal outcomes and access to resources."

"In order to address systemic racism effectively we need to take seriously the legacy of racially discriminatory laws and policies, including Australia's treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the effect of the White Australia Policy," said Dr Wadiwel.

The Institute for Democracy and Human Rights also recently co-hosted a panel discussion and workshop called Addressing Racism Across Australia with the Australian Human Rights Commission, and Dr Wadiwel would like to continue to build on this relationship in the future.

In addition to fostering new partnerships with organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, the institute aims to develop pioneering research, postgraduate training and public outreach initiatives that will have a long-term positive impact on Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, both in the public and university spheres.

Focusing on a wide variety of subjects from environmental policies to Indigenous issues; and from journalism to gender, the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights plans to engage with these contemporary issues in bold and creative new ways.

Professor of Politics John Keane heads up the institute team as Director.

For more information about IDHR's submission to the National Anti-Racism Strategy, read a recent article by IDHR academics in Mosaic, which was commissioned by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA).


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