Community meeting

The commissioner will attend a meeting of the anti-discrimination community

– Calling on people to stand up against rising racism and discrimination –

– 60% of Australians think racism is a big problem –

– 500 reports of racist incidents against Asian Australians –

Multicultural curator Vivienne Nguyen will meet with survivors of discrimination and Upstanders against the practice as part of a Community Upstander program today (Thursday) to hear ‘first-hand’ accounts of their stories.

Courage to Care Vic called on Australians of all ages to ‘stand up’ against the alarming rise in racism and discrimination.

Courage to Care CEO Mike Zervos said the ‘appeal’ was a crucial step in changing the ‘label of discrimination’ that hangs over the country, where 88% of Australians have recognized the need to fight against racism and intolerance in the community.

He called on everyone to be “Upstanders” not “Bystanders” against discrimination.

Today’s Community Upstander program at The Ark Centre, 7 Cato Street, Hawthorn East will run from 12pm to 3pm with the Commissioner’s visit from 1.30pm to 2.30pm.

Courage to Care celebrates its 30th anniversarye anniversary this week with a series of community and student education and empowerment events across Victoria to promote the Stand-up initiative.

Mr Zervos said the charity sought to create a generation of ‘upstanders’ rather than ‘bystanders’ by working with pupils in Victoria to understand discrimination and racism, the history behind the issues and actions that can be done that can change lives and communities.

“This action should not be limited to young people, but should extend to the whole community and be carried out by people of all ages”, he added.

Search by Scanlon Foundation Research Institute – which monitors changes in social attitudes in Australia – reported that at the end of last year more than 60% of Australians thought racism in Australia was either a “very big or fairly big problem”; from 40% in 2020.

The Asian Australian Alliance reported that it had received over 500 reports of racist incidents against Asian Australians last year and community safety groups across Australia have pointed out that 490 antisemitic incidents in Australia occurred in 2021, a 38% increase from 2020 and the highest on record.

Gandel Foundation’s first national Holocaust awareness survey also reported that nearly a quarter (24%) of adult Australians had “little or no knowledge” about the Holocaust, and that number rose to 30% among Millennials.

Courage to Care this week honored a former Japanese World War II diplomat for being an Upstander in saving the lives of thousands of Jews fleeing Nazism in Europe.

Descendants of two of the survivors – Susan Hearst and Lisa Lewis – spoke in honor of former Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara for his actions. As Lithuania’s acting lawyer at the start of World War II, he defied his government’s refusal to provide transit visas to Jews fleeing Poland to Lithuania to escape the Nazis. He ended up personally writing thousands of visas for about a month until the last minute he left Lithuania in 1940, just before Japan entered the war.

Susan Hearst’s mother, Maria Kamm, was one of the beneficiaries of Sugihara’s visa, as was Lisa’s grandmother, Guta Raskin.

Today’s community event at the Ark Center includes educational and empowering guided tours the Courage to Care exhibit showcasing Upstanders throughout history, as well as community education programs for community leaders. The event is open to anyone who wants to learn how to be Upstanders against racism and discrimination in their communities.

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.