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Community and stakeholder consultations, interviews and public submissions: African Australians - Compendium (2010)

2010 - African Australians: human rights and social inclusion issues project

A compendium detailing the outcomes of the community and stakeholder consultations and interviews and public submissions

4 Community and stakeholder consultations, interviews and public submissions

The following sections (employment and training, education, health, housing, justice and additional issues) detail the outcomes of the community and
stakeholder consultations and interviews. It is further supplemented by key issues raised through the public submission process.

Responses provided during the consultations, interviews and submissions are set out under each of the headings and many of the questions provided in
the project Discussion Paper.

The sections also provide good practice examples which have emerged throughout the consultations, and identify the range of
ways in which members of diverse African Australian communities are contributing to Australian society.

The voices of African Australians and other stakeholders are woven through the following sections as evidenced by quotes. In many instances the source
of the quote is detailed however there are other instances where there is no source provided. If no source has been provided that is because the
consultation participant had said that they wanted to participate in consultations but on the understanding that they could request anonymity. This
request has been respected.

4.1 Community and stakeholder consultations

The consultation process was extensive, involving over 2500 African Australians[1] and
over 150 different organisations and service providers[2]. Participants came from a
cross section of the community, encompassing different genders, ethnicities, ages, class, cultures and migratory patterns (skilled, family reunion,
diplomatic, humanitarian entrant and so on). There were 50 community meetings in locations across each state and territory. Every
effort was also made to ensure consultations were held in rural and regional areas of NSW and VIC, the states where the largest African Australian
populations reside. There was also a regional consultation in Bordertown, South Australia.

Various peak African organisations and associations assisted MyriaD Consultants in terms of arranging venues, promoting the consultation events and
encouraging widespread participation amongst their constituent groups.

A number of Migrant Resource Centres and other settlement services were also extremely supportive and assisted in organising many of the consultation
events across the country.

The questions provided in the project Discussion Paper were used as a guide in the focus group sessions.

Apart from focus groups and in depth one-on-one interviews, the consultations also featured a series of innovative consultation approaches, including:

  • informal conversations with individuals at cultural and religious festivals and other social and sporting events
  • an Indigenous and African Communities Dialogue Forum hosted by the City of Yarra in Victoria and attended by, the former Race Discrimination
    Commissioner, Tom Calma
  • good practice forums showcasing innovation in service design and delivery
  • several radio talkback sessions involving Samia Baho and Abeselom Nega (Ethiopian and Eritrean Radio - 3ZZZ and 3CR)
  • focus group discussions with DIAC staff in Melbourne, NSW and the ACT
  • focus groups with people with disabilities and their carers
  • discussion groups with secondary students on site
  • local government forums involving diversity officers and multicultural liaison staff
  • legal forums, including joint community and police discussions
  • a workshop session with community educators employed with the Justice for Refugees Program at the Victorian Department of Justice
  • a workshop with taxi drivers in Victoria
  • a workshop with childcare providers
  • workshops with professional bodies, including chambers of commerce and businesses with a focus on African Australians
  • workshops with staff at a number of torture/trauma services across Australia
  • attendance at a range of conferences.

In some instances, consultations were conducted in the preferred community language and facilitated by trusted bilingual/multilingual facilitators.
This ensured greater levels of participation and inclusion of individuals and groups who might normally be excluded from consultations by virtue of
language barriers.

As indicated earlier in this document, the project was largely funded by the Australian Government as part of the National Action Plan to Build on
Social Cohesion, Harmony and Security. This meant that the Commission was required to ensure that funding requirements were met. However this funding
was further supplemented by funding from the project partners, which meant that the project parameters could be broadened.

There was a particular focus in the project on gathering the views and experiences of young African Australians, African Australian Muslim communities and African Australian Muslim women, who often encounter specific and multiple
challenges. Every effort was made to hold sessions specifically engaging these subgroups, for example, 'women only' and 'young people only'
consultations were held to ensure participants could express their views freely.

In some instances, consultations were conducted as part of pre-existing events to maximise engagement opportunities. Examples include:

  • women's sporting and leisure events
  • young people's conferences
  • conferences focused on experiences of African Muslim communities.

A number of peak African Australian women's organisations were able to assist in hosting a number of consultation sessions. These included:

  • women's sporting and leisure events
  • young people's conferences
  • conferences focused on experiences of African Muslims.

A number of peak African women's organisations were able to assist in hosting a number of consultation sessions. These included:

  • African Women's Advocacy Training Program
  • Centre for African Australian Women's Issues.

Numerous ethno-specific and Muslim women's organisations were also extremely supportive of the project and its objectives. A complete list is provided
in Appendix C.

Various African Australian youth organisations were also vital in encouraging young people to attend the various youth specific focus groups that were
held. These included:

  • Lost Boys and Girls Association
  • Australian Sudanese Youth Conference.

Other mainstream youth organisations that supported the project and assisted with hosting focus groups included:

  • Centre for Multicultural Youth (Vic)
  • Ethnic Youth Council (EYC)
  • Multicultural Youth SA Inc.
(a) Additional meetings with Victorian Somali communities

Following requests, meetings were held with Somali community leaders and African community members in Melbourne. The Race Discrimination Commissioner,
Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and Chairperson of the African Think Tank attended these meetings. Staff
from both commissions also provided support.

4.2 Public submissions

The Commission received over 100 written submissions[3].

The public responses are quite varied. Some submissions are personal stories of African Australians, while others are from government and
non-government agencies who answer specific questions in the discussion paper. Yet others have responded more generally to the sub-sections or larger
sections of the discussion paper. Another raft of submissions refers to published articles, reports or research.

[1] The list of community focus groups is found in Appendix B.

[2] The list of stakeholders who were consulted is found in Appendix C.

[3] The list of submissions is outlined in Appendix D.