A note from Multicultural Australia CEO, Bill Gamack.
Like so many, I have been moved by the events in the United States since May 25th, 2020 and the killing of George Floyd.
I was deeply disturbed at the senseless killing of an unarmed, handcuffed man whose repeated pleas for help were ignored. The look on the face of the police officer kneeling on his neck will stay with me forever.
When a society’s failings are revealed so gut-wrenchingly there yet remains an opportunity for healing, albeit slow and painful, if people can be united for change. But I have been struck by the lack of public leadership in response to the global demonstrations and protests that have followed George Floyd’s death.
An absence of public leadership in this moment requires all of us to mobilise our personal leadership. We all have a part to play in creating social change and bringing about justice for our fellow human beings who are wronged by enduring racism, prejudice and bigotry.
Here in Australia, I believe we cannot authentically reflect on what is happening in the United States without acknowledging that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people of colour are targets of systemic and institutional racism.
At Multicultural Australia, our purpose is to foster and celebrate an inclusive society and we are fiercely committed to human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
We all have work to do to bring about the free, just and peaceful world we aspire to.
Our individual prejudices, and the institutionalised racism that has become embedded over generations, inhibits the potential of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people of colour in Australia.
Historically, we have rarely taken a moment to listen to their voices and to understand the impact of racism on their lives.
They carry the burden of our privilege, our ignorance, and our arrogance when we fail to acknowledge their experience, to empathise, and to continue taking the necessary steps along the walk toward change.
We must continue to excavate, acknowledge and redress racism personally, professionally and politically.
No longer must any one of us be a passive bystander to the systemic and entrenched racism that exists in our society just because we believe we aren’t personally racist. That has never been good enough. It is now inexcusable.
Let’s just start with a simple step. Let’s reflect on the human family and let’s treat all people as human beings – with kindness, compassion and grace. Let’s celebrate difference and all that comes with it.
To quote from Bruce Woodley’s masterpiece –
“We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian.”