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Farewell to the Race Discrimination Commissioner

Race Discrimination
Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan

Australian Human Rights Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, has joined with colleagues to farewell and celebrate the achievements of Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan.

During his five-year term, which began in 2018, Commissioner Tan made significant progress across four key goals:

  • Improving protections against racial discrimination.
  • Reducing institutional racism and systemic inequities.
  • Increasing capacity for multicultural and racial minority communities to advocate for their rights.
  • Increasing awareness of racism and racial discrimination.

Making progress on a National Anti-Racism Framework

In March 2021, the Commission released a proposal for a National Anti-Racism Framework (NARF)  in response to enduring community calls for national action after heightened experiences of racism and racial inequality in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal contained guiding principles, outcomes and strategies to begin a national conversation about anti-racism action.

From March 2021 to April 2022, the Commission consulted with the public, peak and community organisations, experts, service providers, human rights agencies, and government at all levels on the scope and vision for a Framework. The scoping report identified key considerations, cross-cutting themes, and sector-specific priority areas to guide the work for a NARF.

In October 2022, the Commission welcomed the federal budget announcement that $7.5 million would be provided over four years for the Commission for anti-racism initiatives.

Progress will continue as the Commission moves from a scoping phase to a design phase.

Re-launching the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign

In 2022, the Commissioner relaunched the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign to help people and organisations learn about racism and take action for change.

The Racism. It Stops With Me website features educational resources, including a Workplace Cultural Diversity Tool for organisations to evaluate and improve their inclusion, diversity and anti-racism practices.

Tackling racism in sport

In November 2021, the Commission released a new set of guidelines to help Australian sports organisations act effectively and consistently in responding to incidents of spectator racism and preventing racism from occurring at sporting events. In 2023, Commission evaluated the impact of the guidelines. 40% of organisations who signed up to the guidelines said 'Our organisation is working towards implementing all of the 13 steps’, and the majority said the guidelines had a moderate impact (40%) or a significant impact (40%) on their organisation’s approach to racism and racial discrimination.

Sharing the stories of Australian Muslims

The Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims project sought to learn about Australian Muslims’ concerns, priorities and experiences of hate, violence and negative public commentary in the wake of the tragic Christchurch mosque attack.

The project involved extensive consultations with Muslim communities throughout Australia. It also included an online survey, which was completed by more than 1,000 Australian Muslims across every state and territory.

Findings from the survey show Muslim communities in Australia make significant economic, community and charitable contributions to Australian society, yet they experience widespread discrimination. One in four (23%) survey respondents said they felt unable to speak up or act when they experienced discrimination.

Report findings have been considered as part of the Commission’s project to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework.

Sparking national conversations about racism

In 2015 the Commission established the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture to honour the memory of the Hon. Kep Enderby QC (1926-2015), who as Attorney-General introduced the Racial Discrimination Bill in the House of Representatives on 13 February 1975.

During his term, Commissioner Tan hosted the annual lecture. Speakers have included Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus MP, author Alice Pung, and lawyer and human rights advocate Nyadol Nyuon.

Supporting multicultural communities through the pandemic

In February 2020, the Commission received an increase in complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act and Commissioner Tan called for better reporting on racist attacks, particularly against Asian communities. The Commission published a factsheet with information on making a race discrimination complaint, which was translated into 63 languages.

The Commission also updated its International Student Principles to ensure they continue to guide organisations and government agencies that provide services to international students.