Racial Equality in the Time of Coronavirus
How has Australia’s response to the pandemic affected diverse communities? From the racial targeting of Asian Australians to the hard lockdown imposed on residents in Melbourne’s public housing towers, the pandemic has raised questions about the place of diverse communities in Australian society. What has equality and inclusion looked like in the year of Coronavirus? What lessons can be learned? And how can we ensure diverse communities are included in the road to recovery?
The Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture is an annual public event held by the Australian Human Rights Commission to honour the memory of the Hon. Kep Enderby QC (1926-2015), who as Attorney-General introduced the Racial Discrimination Bill to parliament in 1975. Each year, the Lecture advances public understanding and debate about the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, racism and race relations.
The 2020 Kep Enderby Memorial lecture was held on Friday, 30 October and was jointly presented with the European Union Delegation to Australia.
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Nyadol Nyuon is a commercial litigator with Arnold Bloch Leibler and a community advocate. Nyadol was born and raised in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. At eighteen, Nyadol moved to Australia as a refugee. Through the experiences of her family and community, Nyadol has become a leading advocate on issues concerning human rights, multiculturalism, the settlement of refugees and those seeking asylum. She has worked with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Oxfam Australian, the Centre for African- Australian Women Issues and others. She was a board member of the African Think Tank, the Youth Steering Committee of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia and the New Sudanese Youth Association. Nyadol has regularly appeared as a media commentator, including on the ABC’s Q&A and The Drum. In 2011 and 2014, Nyadol was nominated as one of the hundred most influential African-Australians. In 2019 she won the Commission’s ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ award.
Ahmed Dini is a prominent leader in Australia’s African community who became a powerful voice for residents in the Melbourne towers who were subjected to a hard lockdown in July. As a resident in one of the towers, Ahmed spoke in media interviews about the impact of the lockdown on community members. Ahmed arrived in Australia aged 10 after enduring the challenges of life in a Somali refugee camp. As a community advocate, he now supports African and Somali migrants through various initiatives. Ahmed is the creator of the Australian Somali Football Association, now known as United Through Football, which promotes sport while mentoring under-privileged young people and building a more cohesive community. Ahmed was named Victoria’s Local Hero for 2012 and he continues to empower and create change in the African Australian community. He is passionate about building the next generation of leaders and creating bright, positive futures for African-Australians. Ahmed is also the Co-founder of Ubuntu Project, an African Australian organisation creating stronger institutions with new and emerging communities. Ahmed sits on the Implementation Committee of the Victorian African Communities Action Plan.
Jason Yat-Sen Li is the Chairman of investment group Vantage Asia and Managing Director of the China-focused corporate advisory firm Yatsen Associates. He became a prominent advocate in Australia’s Chinese Community protesting the rise of One Nation in 1999 and has since become a leading voice for the community on issues around inclusion and identity. Jason is President of the Chinese Australian Forum, a Fellow of the University of Sydney Senate, a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a member of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on China. He was previously a non-executive director of the George Institute for Global Health, Vice Chair of the Australia-China Chamber of Commerce, a Director of the Sydney Institute and a Governing Member of the Smith Family. His work on road safety in China won the China PR Association Silver Medal for Best Campaign in 2005.
Diana Sayed is an international human rights lawyer, having worked in both Australia and the US. She is CEO of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights and has worked in senior roles at Fair Agenda and Amnesty International Australia, where she led the global #ToxicTwitter campaign to hold the social media giant accountable for online abuse that was silencing women. Diana has worked as an advocate and campaigner for over ten years, including at Human Rights First in Washington, where she challenged the US government on its response to human rights, particularly during the Arab Spring uprising. She has regularly appeared as a media commentator, including on ABC’s Q&A, The Drum, The World, and for SBS, Al Jazeera and MSNBC. As an Afghan-Australian woman from refugee migrant parents, Diana has the lived experience of being a visible Muslim woman of colour in Australia.
The European Union is based on a strong commitment to promote and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. Human rights are at the very heart of the EU’s institutions and policies and its relations with countries and regions. Defending and promoting human rights is an imperative which helps to prevent and resolve violent conflicts and alleviate poverty.