Australian show strong support for multiculturalism and immigration

29 November 2017

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) said today that the Scanlon Foundation’s 2017 Mapping Social Cohesion Report, shows continuing strong support in Australia for multiculturalism, and positive attitudes toward immigration. The report shows that support for the proposition that ‘multiculturalism has been good for Australia’ remains in the 83-86 per cent range. And 63 per […]

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) said today that the Scanlon Foundation’s 2017 Mapping Social Cohesion Report, shows continuing strong support in Australia for multiculturalism, and positive attitudes toward immigration.

The report shows that support for the proposition that ‘multiculturalism has been good for Australia’ remains in the 83-86 per cent range.

And 63 per cent of respondents believe that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’.

Chairperson of FECCA, Ms Mary Patetsos said: “This continues to be a positive story. The overwhelming majority of Australians, whether born in Australia or overseas, accept that multiculturalism is good for this country and has always been good for this country.”

However, Ms Patetsos said, the report had also found that in ten years, those who reported discrimination on the basis of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religion had almost doubled, up from 9 per cent in 2007 to 20 per cent in 2017.

“This, and the continuing high levels of negative feeling towards Muslims, is very disturbing,” Ms Patetsos said.

“Given Australians’ overwhelmingly support for immigration and multiculturalism, our political leaders need to step up to the mark and address racist attitudes in this country, even if those views are held by a minority.”

“And minor, extremist political parties which stoke racism should be shunned.”

Ms Patetsos said that FECCA played an important role in encouraging an inclusive and harmonious multicultural Australian society and protecting the interests of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Australians.

“We’re proud that this year we have worked hard to oppose both the attempted watering down of hate speech laws as well as unfair new citizenship legislation,” Ms Patetsos said.

FECCA is the national peak body representing Australians from CALD backgrounds. FECCA’s role is to advocate and promote issues on behalf of its constituency to government, business and the broader community.

Media contact: (0424) 910617 / emma@fecca.org.au

Racism in Australia to be scrutinised on the world stage

27 November 2017

The Australian Government is bracing for another round of intense scrutiny at the United Nations – this time focusing on its efforts to combat racial discrimination. Despite being a nation committed to fairness and multiculturalism, racism is a growing problem in Australia – one that causes immense pain to racial and ethnic minority communities, and which threatens to tear our social fabric apart.

The Australian Government is bracing for another round of intense scrutiny at the United Nations – this time focusing on its efforts to combat racial discrimination. Despite being a nation committed to fairness and multiculturalism, racism is a growing problem in Australia – one that causes immense pain to racial and ethnic minority communities, and which threatens to tear our social fabric apart.

Today in Geneva, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will assess Australia’s compliance with a key international law that Australia pledged to uphold to tackle racism.

A coalition of Australian NGOs will brief the Committee in Geneva and present a report, endorsed by 53 organisations. The report documents Australia’s backward slide in the treatment of ethnic minority communities, refugees, people who seek asylum and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Committee is likely to question Australia about its cruelty towards people seeking asylum and the dire situation on Manus Island, which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called a humanitarian crisis.”

Download report: Australia’s Compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Quotes from NGO representatives

Les Malezer, Chair, FAIRA and member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

“Australia will likely be strongly criticised for long-term and continuing racial discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and for not acting on the many recommendations made over past decades from UN human rights experts, treaty bodies and other nations. Since colonisation our status remains characterised by political subjugation, extensive incarceration, and segregated welfare and labour systems. We will be telling the Committee about the urgent need for human rights laws and for the Constitution to be reformed to promote equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and all Australians.”

 Rod Little, Co-Chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

“10 years on from the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Australia has promised again to uphold the Declaration ‘in word and deed’ in taking a seat on the Human Rights Council. If it really wants to be taken seriously and do what is right, it needs to immediately work with us and stop imposing things on us.”

“The Australian Government’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been so strained in recent years, it has affected the crisis in our communities. We’ve seen evidence of record disadvantage and mass reduction of services, and almost all the Closing the Gap targets have not been met in the past 10 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the solutions. We’ve laid them out in the Redfern Statement and we’ll be bringing this framework for success to the attention of the world.”

Mary Patetsos, Chairperson, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils Australia

“Legislation and policies that balance and protect the rights and responsibilities of all Australians regardless of cultural, linguistic, racial or religious background are of vital importance.”

“Australia’s removal of, and attempts to restrict, pathways to citizenship are a threat to the social cohesion and harmony of Australian society, generate fear and uncertainty for migrants and their families, and counter their efforts to construct long term, stable futures.”

Wayne Muir, Co-Chair, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

“The disproportionately high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people forced into prison or who experience violence is a pandemic, which is tearing people away from their families and communities. We are calling for the urgent implementation of a national justice target, as part of the Closing the Gap framework, which will force governments to immediately address the root causes and consequences of the criminalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services work hard, with limited resources to provide culturally appropriate, trauma-informed support services to address underlying factors of disadvantage which have resulted in our people being forced into a school to prison pipeline. However legal services alone cannot address systemic disadvantage. Governments must take responsibility to ensure immediate investment in long-term support services.”

Hannah McGlade, Director, Aboriginal Family Law Service

“Aboriginal women experience unacceptably high rates of inter-personal violence and at the same time also face great difficulties in seeking just and preventive responses from the state due to structural and systemic discrimination. Australia should develop a specific National Action Plan to address violence against Aboriginal women to respond effectively to these issues. Violence – individual and structural – is a major barrier to the realisation of Aboriginal women’s human rights.”

“Australia should also strengthen dialogue with Indigenous women representatives to protect the human rights of women and girls. We need to ensure gender equality is a key component of Indigenous affairs, including through special measures where necessary.”

Adrianne Walters, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre

“Australia now has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. With this privilege comes a huge responsibility to be a leader on human rights – a responsibility that must start in our own backyard.”

“We expect Australia to be rebuked and called on to immediately evacuate the men, women and children on Manus Island and Nauru to safety in Australia. We expect calls for Australia to take immediate steps to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids being locked up and to abandon its racist ‘work for the dole’ program in remote communities. We also anticipate Australia being asked why it still lacks human rights laws to ensure equality for all Australians.”

Antoinette Braybrook, Convener, National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum

“Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has reached epidemic levels in Australia. We need stronger national action to develop specific, culturally safe, holistic responses that are designed by our women, for our women. A dedicated national action plan for violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, that includes greater investment in Aboriginal family violence prevention services, would be a significant step to achieving this.”

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children

“The increasing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection systems across Australia is impinging on our children and families’ entitlement to the equal enjoyment of social and cultural rights. Not nearly enough is being done to strengthen and support families so that our children’s vital connections to family, community, culture, and country are developed and maintained.”

“Australia needs to comply with its international human rights obligations. In line with the right to self-determination, our children’s rights can only truly be met through processes that are designed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Asher Hirsch, Senior Policy Officer, Refugee Council of Australia

“Australia’s systematic discrimination of people seeking asylum and refugees is well known to international bodies, with various arms of the UN having denounced the inhumane policies of the Australian government, particularly the mandatory detention of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island. As Australia goes before the CERD, it should reflect on its abysmal human rights record and seek to demonstrate that it can be a global leader in upholding human rights.”

Amy Frew, Lawyer, Human Rights Law Centre

“The Australian Government will face tough questioning about its ongoing cruelty to the 2000 men, women and children it has held for four and a half years in danger and limbo on remote islands in the Pacific and the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding on Manus Island.”

“We expect strong condemnation from the Committee for Australia’s cruel deterrence regime which has seen thousands of lives destroyed – families ripped apart forever, sexual assaults, violence and deaths. These are serious violations that have gone on for far too long. We’re expecting the UN to call on Australia to immediately evacuate these 2000 men, women and children from Manus and Nauru to safety in Australia, and allow those already in Australia to remain rebuilding their lives in safety.”

Background to the CERD review

The international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is one of the first international human rights treaties. In signing up to the treaty, Australia committed to taking all steps required under the treaty to eliminate racism and to being regularly reviewed by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – a panel of experts on racial discrimination. Australia was last reviewed in 2010.

On the 27 and 28 November, Australia will be examined by the Committee about whether it is complying with its obligations. Before Australia is examined, the NGO delegation will have an opportunity to present the Committee with views from communities affected by racism and racial discrimination.

 

Download report: Australia’s Compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

 

For further information or interviews, contact:

Dr Emma Campbell, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils Australia: 0424 910 617

Michelle Bennett, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519

Rachel Athaide, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services: 0407 097 955

Samuel Dariol, Refugee Council of Australia: 0488 035 535

Queensland voters reject Pauline Hanson Agenda

26 November 2017

Queensland voters have comprehensively rejected the racist agenda of One Nation and its backers in yesterday’s State election.

The Chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia, Mary Patetsos, said today that counting trends indicated that Pauline Hanson’s party was struggling to make gains, despite her hopes that it would win as many as 11 seats.

Queensland voters have comprehensively rejected the racist agenda of One Nation and its backers in yesterday’s State election.

The Chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia, Mary Patetsos, said today that counting trends indicated that Pauline Hanson’s party was struggling to make gains, despite her hopes that it would win as many as 11 seats.

“Queensland voters have rejected the divisive, negative and racist policies of One Nation and its negative, fearmongering backers,” Ms Patetsos said.

“Even their State leader lost his seat.”

She said that voters had refused to accept the arguments against immigration put by One Nation – assisted by major Pauline Hanson supporter, millionaire businessman Dick Smith.

Dick Smith spent huge amounts of money on newspaper ads in the last week of the campaign, arguing for a halt to Australia’s immigration program and calling for a vote for One Nation.

“These tactics failed miserably. The people of Australia are not mean-spirited and fearful as One Nation and its supporters want them to be.”

“Australia is built on a long-standing bipartisan policy of multiculturalism which embraces the benefits of immigration – economic, social and cultural.”

“FECCA congratulates Queensland voters for rejecting the simplistic, negative and racist policies of One Nation,” Ms Patetsos said.

FECCA is the national peak body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. FECCA’s role is to advocate and promote issues on behalf of its constituency to government, business and the broader community.

Media contact: (0424) 910617 / emma@fecca.org.au

FECCA calls for action on exploitation of migrant workers

21 November 2017

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia today expressed its concern at the results of a landmark report by University of New South Wales and University of Technology Sydney highlighting endemic exploitation and underpayment of international students and backpackers.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia today expressed its concern at the results of a landmark report by University of New South Wales and University of Technology Sydney highlighting endemic exploitation and underpayment of international students and backpackers.

Ms Mary Patetsos, Chairperson of FECCA said: “The results of this report further confirm what FECCA has been saying – migrant workers including students and backpackers are being grossly underpaid and need stronger protections.”

Ms Patetsos continued: “The revelation in the report that one in three international students and backpackers are paid about half the legal minimum wage is appalling.”

“We call on the Government to ensure employers are held to account for any exploitation and that all relevant regulatory bodies are sufficiently resourced to ensure these vulnerable workers are protected and paid a fair wage.”

FECCA is active in advocating for the fair treatment of migrant and temporary workers.

Ms Patetsos said: “Migrant workers are vital to Australia’s economy and society. Temporary visa holders are some of the most vulnerable workers in Australia and are too often victims of workplace abuse.”

“I commend UNSW and UTS for the rigorous nature of the research in this report. These findings must be addressed urgently.”

Full details of the report and its authors can be found here.

FECCA is the national peak body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. FECCA’s role is to advocate and promote issues on behalf of its constituency to government, business and the broader community.

Media contact: (0424) 910617 / emma@fecca.org.au

FECCA celebrates ‘yes’ vote: a win for equality and non-discrimination

15 November 2017

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia welcomed the strong support shown for marriage equality in the same-sex marriage survey results announced today.

Ms Mary Patetsos, Chairperson of FECCA said: “FECCA called on all Australians, of all backgrounds, to choose ‘yes’ in the marriage equality survey. We are delighted with this outcome.”

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia welcomed the strong support shown for marriage equality in the same-sex marriage survey results announced today.

Ms Mary Patetsos, Chairperson of FECCA said: “FECCA called on all Australians, of all backgrounds, to choose ‘yes’ in the marriage equality survey. We are delighted with this outcome.”

Ms Patetsos said: “Our support for marriage equality is in line with FECCA’s continuing advocacy for equality and non-discrimination across Australia’s diverse society.”

“We welcome the leadership shown by the many community leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who strongly supported the ‘yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage survey,” she said.

Ms Patetsos continued: “We look forward to all Australians coming together to support non-discrimination and equality for everyone in our multicultural and diverse nation.”

FECCA is the national peak body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. FECCA’s role is to advocate and promote issues on behalf of its constituency to government, business and the broader community.

Media contact: (0424) 910617 / emma@fecca.org.au