Kate Jenkins, Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission officially launched the Report Racism project at Queens Gardens in Shepparton on Thursday the 12th of February.
Local Elder, Shane Charles, welcomed guests to country and the Kaila dungala butja malniga dance group performed a number of spectacular dances to the calls of the didjeridoo and beat of clacking boomerangs. Other speakers were John Martin, Chair of Hume RAJAC; Meena Singh, CEO Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS); and Deputy Police Commissioner Lucinda Nolan.
It was significant that a large contingent of our local police members was supported by several fellow officers from Melbourne. This is a real credit to our local police leadership and the strong efforts that they have made to engage with the local Aboriginal community and, indeed, with all of our very diverse Greater Shepparton community.
This project is about changing attitudes and expectations around what is acceptable in a modern world. As Uncle Shane told the audience “Racism is a learned behaviour – as a culture, racism is new to (Aboriginal peoples)… This is our country and this is your country – let’s respect one another.”
Uncle John said “At the end of the day there is no place for racism and we must work with people to put processes in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Those processes are now in place and the new partnership represented by each of the speakers does this. Anyone experiencing or witnessing racism is invited to contact one of the reporting agencies, VALS, Rumbalara or the Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre.
Image courtesy Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission