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New report finds governments at all levels across Australia failing on racism

Race Discrimination
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Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Race Discrimination

A new report has found governments and their departments at all levels across the country are failing to adequately identify and address racism – even avoiding the term ‘racism’ – and that approaches across the board are ad-hoc, disjointed, reactive, and lacking coordination between governments, agencies and sectors.  

The report was produced for the Australian Human Rights Commission by PwC Indigenous Consulting and the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS.  

The report outlines that negatively racialised communities are forced to compete with one another for funding to support affected communities and that there is little focus on addressing racism against First Nations communities. The report also identifies a lack of political bipartisanship as an obstacle to action.   

National Race Discrimination Commissioner Giridharan Sivaraman said: “This report shows governments at all levels in Australia are not taking seriously enough their responsibility for action to address racism. If some areas of government are reluctant to use the term ‘racism’, how can they tackle it? 

“Australia needs a national plan to address racism, and this plan needs to be a whole-of-society approach, which coordinates efforts at all levels of government and across all sectors. It needs to set benchmarks and measure outcomes, and, importantly, it needs to centre those impacted by racism.”  

“The Federal Government has recognised this and is supporting the Commission with $7.5 million over four years to develop a National Anti-Racism Strategy in consultation with First Nations communities and others who are negatively racialised.  

“This report is a significant milestone on the road to launching a national anti-racism framework later this year” 

The report recommends the development of a clear, whole of government strategic approach to addressing racism. Other recommendations included developing a nationally recognised definition of racism, and anti-racism education in schools.   

Commissioner Sivaraman said: “Many people in Australia do not experience the dignity, respect and opportunity they deserve, particularly First Nations peoples. Racism impacts opportunities and outcomes in all areas of people’s lives. Recent ruptures in our society have seen dramatic rises in racism towards First Nations peoples, antisemitism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. This shows systemic failures to deal with racism.” 

“Australia has national plans to tackle problems like mental health, child abuse, and domestic violence. Our current ad-hoc approach towards racism is not good enough. 

“The Commission’s soon-to-be-released proposal for a national framework to tackle racism will be a call to cation for all levels of government as well as organisations across all sectors to make the commitment and investment required to counter racism in Australia.”

Read the report on the Commission's website:

Media contact: or 0457 281 897 

Report Methodology 
The research for the report focused on publicly available information from federal, state and local government as well as the community sector including legislation, strategies, plans and frameworks, Reconciliation Action Plans, resource materials, campaigns, research, reviews and evaluations, position statements and grant funding programs. A range of Interviews about relevant policy and programs were also conducted with stakeholders across all levels of government, relevant community organisations, First Nations groups and academic research specialists.