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Agenda for racial equality 2012-2016 - About this Agenda

Agenda for racial equality 2012-2016

2 About
this Agenda

This Agenda has a clearly defined focus on achievable change.

Rather than attempting to canvas every race-related issue in detail, this
Agenda identifies where change can be accelerated and where progress can be made
towards racial equality.

It revolves around one central tenet: that difference should never be used to
excuse inequity, disadvantage or discrimination, which diminish us as a country
and as individuals.

This Agenda is based on sound principles of long standing.

It draws its authority from Australia’s obligations as a signatory to
the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial
. The priority areas link directly to domestic legal
requirements outlined in the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).

It employs a human rights framework to guide policy and program development,
and ensure that we can objectively balance competing interests in a way that
reflects the inherent dignity of all human beings.

This Agenda is central to the role and responsibilities of the Race
Discrimination Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s responsibility to all people in Australia goes
beyond an exclusive focus on racism: it extends into identifying opportunities
and encouraging action to achieve racial equality.

The Commissioner also has a responsibility to communicate: both to build and
advocate for understanding of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
and its obligations, and to promote a stronger national understanding of the
different cultural groups within our society, their challenges and the
contributions they make.

Accordingly, this Agenda reflects consultation with people in all areas of
life – and its execution will require further communication, consultation
and collaboration.

This Agenda builds on and complements other national agendas which
contribute to racial equality.

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) is currently being reviewed
as part of the Australian Human Rights Framework, and will soon form one part of
a consolidated anti-discrimination law. Under the Framework, a new federal
parliamentary scrutiny committee on human rights has also been
introduced.[4] All new federal
legislation must now be accompanied by a statement of compatibility with
Australia’s human rights obligations, which is an important measure
towards ensuring the elimination of systemic racial discrimination.

Other national policy frameworks of particular relevance to this Agenda

  • The Access and Equity Strategy [5]
  • The Social Inclusion Agenda [6], and
  • The People of Australia – Australia’s multicultural

Agenda requires leadership at all levels, and a bipartisan commitment to
building racial equality.

Achieving equality will help us protect the economic, social and political
stability that is so strongly valued by Australian society. Realising equality
requires support – and accountability – from leaders in all realms
of our society.

This Agenda can help to guide the work of leaders, organisations and
communities that aspire to advance racial equality.


[4] Attorney-General’s Department, Australia’s Human Rights Framework
At: (viewed 17 August 2012)
[5] The
Access and Equity framework was implemented to improve access to all government
services for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Since 2005, it
commits all Australian Government agencies to regularly report on how their
services work for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in terms of
responsiveness, communication, accountability and leadership. See: Department of
Immigration and Citizenship, Accessible Government Services for All Annual Report (2006). At
[6] The Social Inclusion Agenda was implemented in 2008 as part of a
whole-of-government response to addressing disadvantage, also works to improve
the quality of government services. It focuses on improving the life chances of
children at greatest risk of long term disadvantage; reducing the incidence of
homelessness; improving outcomes for people living with disability or mental
illness and their carers; closing the gap for Indigenous Australians; and
breaking the cycle of entrenched and multiple disadvantage in particular
neighbourhoods and communities. See: Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet, A Stronger, Fairer Australia (2009), p17. At
[7] In February 2011, the Government announced its multicultural policy, The People
of Australia. Initiatives under the policy include: establishing the Australian
Multicultural Council; a review of the Access and Equity Framework; implementing
the Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership Program; and
developing a National
Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy. See: Australian Government, The People
of Australia: Australia’s Multicultural Policy
, launched on 16
February 2011. At