Human rights dialogue with African community leaders

26 March 2018, Kensington Town Hall

Commission staff and African community leaders

Recently, the Commission attended a Dialogue Forum with African leaders who have taken part in The African Human Rights Committee of Victoria.

Both Abeselom Nega, CEO of iEmpower and Commissioner Kristen Hilton sought to bring into the one space a collaborative discussion to unpack the work of the Commission and how it can effectively address human rights breaches incurred by African communities across Victoria. A two-way exchange of initiatives and ideas to address racism, and racial and religious vilification were addressed.

The event attracted an excellent mix of renowned African leaders as well as young African representatives.

The Commissioner also brought key senior staff to discuss their work at the Commission, including Yamusa Alhassan, Senior Adviser Finance, Audit and Risk. As well as providing an overview of the Commission’s authority and functions, the Commissioner addressed the broader ideas of inclusion and diversity, emphasising that in reaching for them we don’t lose sight of ‘rights’, or that with ‘rights’ comes ‘responsibilities’.

The team from the Commission then spoke about community education and engagement projects with African communities, enquiries and complaints processes that have involved race and religious discrimination, and how the Commission has a diversity and inclusion program within its workplace, that has enabled recruitment of African individuals.

In turn, the African leaders and representatives provided invaluable insight into issues that need to be addressed and potential solutions. Some issues raised were institutionalised racism, everyday racism, advocacy, representations in the media, how to reach young people, education programs for both African communities and the wider Australian population, protections under our laws, inclusive practices and social cohesion.

The session ended with reflections and a summary of actions by two key leaders of the African community, Dr. Berhan Ahmed, the CEO of African-Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services, and Rabecca Mphande, Vice President of African Day Australia.

A stream of emails expressing positive feedback about the event, includes Francis Acquah, Clinical Director of Positive Mental Health Program, “Thank you for organising this productive and excellent interaction with the Human Rights Commission. The more educated the Community is and knowing ‘our rights’ the more we able to address discriminations and prejudices.”

This event and accompanying feedback has ignited future direction including education and training for young African representatives on human rights, equal opportunity and innovative approaches to addressing racism. The Nelson Mandela 365 Project is a partnership project with the Commission and The African Human Rights Committee.

If you would like more information about projects and programs in the African community please contact Peter Uzande

For more information about future dialogue sessions, as well as community engagement, please contact Angela Costi, Senior Adviser, Information and Engagement,
ph: (03) 9032 3476.

The Human Rights Dialogue Forum is part of the Commission’s Multicultural Engagement Plan which is aligned with one of our strategic priorities – Reducing Racism.

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