IN the wake of the deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last weekend, two leaders of the Sydney Jewish community have joined forces with AFL star Adam Goodes to combat racism.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO and NSW Community Relations Commission chair Vic Alhadeff, together with Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim, are part of the “Racism. It Stops With Me” ad campaign, which launches on TV this Saturday.
The pair filmed the ad – a project of the Australian Human Rights Commission – with the Sydney Swans player, aspiring football stars and representatives of Australia’s Korean and Greek communities and multicultural leaders at the SCG last week.
The campaign coincides with National Reconciliation Week, which Goodes – who has been the victim of racial abuse himself – launched on Monday with NSW Governor Marie Bashir, Randwick mayor Scott Nash and Waverley councillor Leon Goltsman.
Alhadeff said the message of the campaign is “simple yet stark – that every individual has the power to take a stand against racism”.
“We know from history what happens when people are bystanders and passively look the other way. That is a lesson that can and should be taught – that each individual has the capacity to speak out and to take a stand against racism,” he said.
“That is the aim of the campaign. The more Australians who hear the message, take it on board and act on it, the more harmonious a society we will have.”
Wertheim said the aim is “public education against racism, and to encourage people who are the targets of racism or witness racist incidents to speak up against racism and not be passive victims or bystanders”.
“Although Australia is generally a tolerant and peaceful place compared to most other countries, racism remains a serious problem … not only as a source of discrimination and injustice, but also as a potential source of violence that threatens the cohesiveness and peace of Australian society,” he said.
“It needs to be addressed through public and school education and also, as a last resort, by legislative measures.”
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane said the campaign will remind Australians that they can stand up to racism, wherever it happens.
“We want people to be comfortable about calling out racism when it happens, and to have honest conversations about it,” he said, adding that there are “enormous challenges that exist in combating racism”.
“Racism hurts. It wounds its targets and makes people feel they are second class citizens. We have to keep reminding people that racism still occurs and we need to respond to it,” he said.
A screen grab from the “Racism. It Stops With Me” campaign.