A packed audience filled the Recital Hall Sydney on 27 October. Our own Indian community, Lawyer & Lecturer Pallavi Sinha was debating a very important topic, whether “Racism is destroying the Australian Dream”
Indigenous Sky News Anchor, Stan Grant captivated the audience with his speech about the Indigenous perspective & the history of Australia treating Indigenous people as “sub-human”. As part of the team with Pallavi FOR the motion, he argued that little had changed with Indigenous people comprising about 4% of the population, yet about 25% of those in jails.
Pallavi was an outstanding voice for social justice, multiculturalism & the Subcontinent community & strongly rebutted the Opposition case. She said that Australia should be a land of equal opportunity for all, but Racism is destroying this aspiration. Highlights of passionate arguments by Pallavi included:
- A Study conducted by researchers at the Australian National University, revealed that for every one job interview application submitted by an Anglo applicant, a Chinese & Middle Easter person must submit about 6 applications
- As a daughter of Indian migrants & having worked with many migrants I’ve heard countless stories of struggles & people who had to change their surname to even get a job interview. Some heads of Chinese & Indian associations have told her that this is the reason why more people are leaving Australia.
- Less than a week ago, the Federal Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, delivered a speech to the National Press Club & said that it’s still hard to advance in this country if you “have a funny name”, Although almost half the population is born overseas or has a parent born overseas, “Our parliaments, our governments and public institutions do not reflect the cultural diversity that is today contemporary mainstream Australia. Senator Fierravanti-Wells pointed to Australian Public Service Commission figures that in the senior executive service, only 138 out of 1918 are held by people from non-English speaking backgrounds.
- Last week, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo said at the Senate Estimates that he sympathised with fears of culturally and linguistically diverse Australians that they could be unfairly targeted by government visa-checking crackdowns due to their skin colour or name.
- In Canada, at the last election the number of Indian Canadians elected more than doubled from 8 to 19. In Australia, despite Indians having settled here for over 100 years, there’s only one anglo Indian at the Federal level & it is unlikely that she will be reelected at the next election
- It is suprising that I am the first or one of the first Indian Australian women to participate in this debate, speak on Q & A, the 7.30 Report & host 702 ABC radio programs, despite Indians being in Australia for over 100 years. The lack of cultural diversity also applies to Australian TV, film & advertising, so much for giving everyone a fair go & advance Australia fair
- Reports indicate that Racism not only exists, but is increasing.
- The current climate is like a volcano which could erupt at any moment. Only a few months ago protestors from “Reclaim Australia” were at the centre of violent scenes, particularly in Melbourne. A crowd of 150 people gathered in Sydney’s Martin Place not far from where we are today, on a Sunday morning, draped in Australian flags and in some cases, dressed as Ancient Greek soldiers. ‘Reclaim Australia’ is not alone. The ‘Party for Freedom’ has announced it will hold a “Cronulla Riots Memorial service” at Don Lucas Reserve, Cronulla Beach, on December 12. The NSW Police would not confirm whether a permit for the event had been approved. A day after an advertisement for the event was posted on social media, Facebook removed it. The group described the upcoming rally as a “fitting time to bury multiculturalism”. So much for a socially cohesive society – such rallies add fuel to any fires of division and tear our community apart.
- Constructively expressing views is one things, but violent gatherings are another. This does not create an atmosphere where all Australians feel free to roam the streets, let alone catch the train or bus. Numerous examples of recent racist attacks on public transport, some of which have been caught on video, has led to a culture of fear rather than of feeling “welcome”
She concluded by saying that “Racism in Australia is increasing & is destroying the Australian dream because evidence shows that all Australians are NOT given equal opportunities. This means that our resources are not adequately utilised & this has a detrimental effect on Australia as a whole.
A lively & active question and answer session followed the debate.
The motion Stan Grant & Pallavi argued for “Racism is destroying the Australian Dream” was carried FOR 64% Against 26% & undecided 10%. Says Pallavi “This ‘win’ was really a win for the Australian people – audience participation was unprecedented, and the discussion and Q & A session was lively & interactive. It was wonderful to hear so many people share their stories & to see young schoolchildren asking questions”
We are proud to see Pallavi as a strong voice on many issues including human rights, multiculturalism, social justice and community issues.
The debate will be broadcast on ABC & BBC TV to 80 million people worldwide. Pallavi is an Award winner for Excellence in Law, Journalism & Community Services. She is moderating a Panel at the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council Australia Biennial Conference at Sheraton Sydney on 6 November, and speaking at the Hindu Council Strengthening Relationships Forum on 21 November at Strathfield Town Hall. Her twitter ID is @mspallavisinha