Dr Tim Soutphommasane appointed Race Discrimination Commissioner

30 July 2013

Dr Tim Soutphommasane
Dr Tim Soutphommasane has been appointed as Australia's new Race Discrimination Commissioner.

University of Sydney political philosopher Dr Tim Soutphommasane will take the reins in the nation's fight against prejudice as Australia's new Race Discrimination Commissioner.

Dr Soutphommasane, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights since February, begins his new five-year post on August 20. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced Dr Soutphommasane's appointment on Monday 29 July.

Looking ahead to his new role, Dr Soutphommasane acknowledges the task of combating racism will be a challenge.

"For the most part, Australian society has proven itself to be a multicultural success. But there's still a lot to do in fighting racial discrimination and prejudice," he says.

"The persistence of racism presents a test for all of us. Every person who is a citizen or resident of Australia is entitled to be treated fairly and decently - and as an equal."

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Duncan Ivison, says the Faculty will be sorry to lose Dr Soutphommasane, "but the University's loss is the Commonwealth's gain".

"Tim Soutphommasane will be an outstanding Race Discrimination Commissioner, bringing his fine analytical eye and superb communication skills to this vital role," he says.

"As a Faculty we are deeply committed to research and teaching on issues that relate to social justice and human rights. We look forward to working with Tim in future, knowing he can draw upon our expertise and commitment in helping promote anti-racism and social equity in his new role."

As an outspoken advocate for multiculturalism in Australia, Dr Soutphommasane currently presents the ABC Radio National documentary series 'Mongrel Nation: The Story of Australian Multiculturalism'. This series is based on his NSW Premier's Literary Award-winning book, Don't Go Back To Where You Came From: Why Multiculturalism Works, which won the Community Relations Commission Award in May.

Dr Soutphommasane, who is also a columnist with The Age, brings to the Commissioner's role past experience as a board member of the National Australia Day Council, and as member of the Australian Multicultural Council.

"I am sad to be leaving the University, but am looking forward to starting my new role at the Australian Human Rights Commission. It will be a demanding post, but I am honoured to serve," he says.

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