Multicultural youth inform the Victorian Anti-Racism Strategy

In November 2021, Multicultural Affairs, who support the Victorian Government to promote its multicultural vision and priorities, approached CMY to hold consultations with multicultural youth to inform the soon-to-be-released Victorian Anti-Racism Strategy.

Young people from throughout the CMY network were invited to attend including connections from our Youth Leadership, Le Mana Pasifika Project, South Sudanese Community Support Group and our Regional Presence programs. Two workshops focused on developing a shared understanding of racism, exploring spaces where young people encounter racism, identifying its impact and priority areas for government action.

21 young people from 18 different cultural backgrounds participated in the consultations.

Here is a snapshot of some of the findings:

Young people revealed that racism was an everyday experience which presented itself in various ways. This included racial profiling, poor media representation, casual racism in public places and unequal opportunities in education and employment. Young people also noted that they had seen an increase of racism in the wake of the pandemic.

“Being watched or followed in shops because they think you’re a criminal, or when walking past white people, feeling the need to smile so I don’t get categorised as a thug,” a young man said.

Reflecting on what anti-racism means to them, a young person said, “to be able to have these conversations everywhere… when you speak against discrimination and racial prejudice you’ve experienced… you feel safe speaking up… That you don’t face negative ramifications for speaking up. You feel supported to speak out.

Some of the main issues young people would like to be addressed in the Anti-Racism Strategy were police and prison reform, racism in employment and education, mental health, community accountability and media representation. 

“The labelling has to go, the stereotyping. It impacts our experiences in public, I don’t want to have to worry about what people are thinking of me and my family because they have stereotypes based on our culture or how we look. All businesses have to have cultural competency training, they need more understanding.”

Young people emphasised the importance of acknowledging injustices towards First Nations people as a primary step towards anti-racism.

The group also discussed some successful initiatives they have encountered when addressing anti-racism. There was a strong call for greater representation and celebration of cultural diversity in school, employment and public settings. Creating safe physical and virtual places for young people to interact was also useful in breaking down bias and improving social cohesion.

“I believe for real change to happen, people need to be educated about racism – both Caucasians and people of colour as well. Some of us have grown up in Australia and if we’re not educated, we can end up developing internalised racism as well,” a young person said.  

CMY is committed to making meaningful, positive change when it comes to anti-racism efforts. Read more about what we have been doing in our latest Annual Report.