Race discrimination commissioner Chin Tan says Chinese community being “gaslighted”, calls for more funding


His comments came as Labor’s multiculturalism spokesperson, Andrew Giles, this week called for a new national anti-racism campaign, saying there had been a rise in xenophobia towards the Asian community due to the virus, including reports of Chinese people being yelled at on public transport and denied rides via apps like Uber.

Mr Tan said he was also concerned about the ongoing risk of racism in other communities.

“When you look at this alongside the increase in violent attacks on Muslims in Australia over the past year and the increase in white supremacist activity both locally and internationally, it paints a very worrying picture. There’s also clearly a big problem with racial hatred online,” he said.

Asked if the commission had adequate funding to carry out its anti-racism work, Mr Tan said: “No, we don’t.”

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In 2011, the Human Rights Commission was given $1.7 million over four years specifically for a national anti-racism strategy.

Between 2015 and 2018, it continued work on the strategy – which produced resources such as an anti-racism toolkit for parents and early childhood educators, a social inclusion framework for the NRL and a development program for young anti-racism leaders – from its ongoing budget.

The commission said it had applied for more funding every year since it ran out in 2015, including in the upcoming 2020 federal budget, to renew the strategy and its “Racism. It Stops With Me” campaign, but was yet to receive a response.

Attorney-General Christian Porter on Friday said: “I constantly engage with all my agencies to ensure funding is fit for purpose and any funding decisions are made in the usual way through the budget process.” The next federal budget will be handed down on May 12.

The government on Friday announced it would provide $3 million to expand a program to reduce religious, racial and cultural intolerance to an extra 500 schools over four years, and $850,000 to help build an inter-faith youth and education centre in Newport, Victoria.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Anti-Defamation Commission’s “Click Against Hate” program taught students to take action when they experienced or saw intolerance. “We cannot accept the recent incidents of racial and religious intolerance in our schools and broader community,” he said in a statement.

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