Human rights and international law expert Professor Hilary Charlesworth, says that Australia's appointment to the UN Human Rights Council gives the country an opportunity to examine its own human rights record.
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University of Melbourne
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The research, undertaken for Vichealth reveals the health damaging effects of race-based discrimination.
The Indigenous report rate is even higher with up to three quarters of the population experiencing discrimination.
Called Building on our strengths - A framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria the report provides strong evidence that programs are urgently needed to reduce the harmful impacts of racial discrimination.
The report was launched by Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) CEO Todd Harper and The Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls.
“VicHealth in conjunction with its partners has developed a road map to address the problem. The report proposes actions for addressing race-based discrimination drawing on the best available theory, evidence and practice,” VicHealth CEO Todd Harper said.
“The Report identifies a range of strategies for addressing discrimination, one of which includes raising awareness of the issues at a community level.
“VicHealth will support a number of activities including allocation of $2 million to assist Victorian arts organisations, as well as Indigenous and migrant artists to reduce racial discrimination.
“This new report shows there is a clear link between race-based discrimination and mental health problems, particularly depression.”
One of the main authors of the report, Dr Yin Paradies from the McCaughey Centre and the Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Centre at the University of Melbourne, says: “Racial discrimination can cause stress-related heart and immune system problems. There are also strong links between discrimination and cigarette smoking, as well as drug and alcohol misuse.
“Discriminatory attitudes can lead to very serious consequences. As we have seen over the past year, a number of people from diverse cultural backgrounds have ended up in hospital after receiving injuries from direct physical attacks.”
According to Mr Harper, Victoria has a great record of fostering cultural diversity; nine out of 10 Victorians agree it is good for society to be made up of different cultures.
“Yet the report shows that people from Indigenous, migrant and refugee backgrounds continue to experience high levels of discrimination, in turn affecting their health and wellbeing,” he said.
“There is strong evidence that Indigenous and overseas-born Victorians continue to report high rates of discrimination, in ’everyday’ contexts, like when shopping, on public transport, around sports, in schools and workplaces.
“Nearly one in two (45%) Victorians from non-English speaking backgrounds report having experienced racial discrimination at a sporting or other public event.
“Evidence shows that racial discrimination leads to violence and trauma which has implications for people over generations,” Mr Harper said.
Dr Helen Szoke, Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission said addressing racial discrimination was an issue of fundamental human rights.
“We have seen a groundswell of change in community attitudes around reducing racial discrimination over the past 20 years but we have a long way to go,” Dr Szoke said. “Our aim is to prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place so that every person can enjoy real freedom, equality, respect and dignity as their right.”
According to Mr Harper, “preventing discrimination will provide significant social, economic and health benefits for all Victorians.”