House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate: City of Greater Dandenong

I would like to congratulate the City of Greater Dandenong, which last night in Parliament House was presented with the National Award for Local Government in the category of Multicultural Australia—Strength in Diversity. The National Awards for Local Government are an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. Through the awards, the Australian government celebrates local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and make a meaningful difference. In particular, I would like to congratulate Mayor Jim Memeti and Councillors Youhorn Chea, Angela Long and Matthew Kirwan, who, together with Jackie Gatt, the council's officer, were in Canberra to receive the award for the council's 'Racism. Get Up. Speak Out' program. It was a pleasure to see them all here.

I would like to congratulate the City of Greater Dandenong, which last night in Parliament House was presented with the National Award for Local Government in the category of Multicultural Australia—Strength in Diversity. The National Awards for Local Government are an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. Through the awards, the Australian government celebrates local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and make a meaningful difference. In particular, I would like to congratulate Mayor Jim Memeti and Councillors Youhorn Chea, Angela Long and Matthew Kirwan, who, together with Jackie Gatt, the council's officer, were in Canberra to receive the award for the council's 'Racism. Get Up. Speak Out' program. It was a pleasure to see them all here.

At a council meeting on 26 June last year, the Greater Dandenong City Council unanimously pledged support for the National Anti-Racism Strategy's campaign 'Racism. It Stops with Me.' The campaign, launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2012, has been underpinned by key research findings which suggest that one in seven Australian says that they experience discrimination because of their colour or background; approximately one in five Australians says they have experienced race hate talk, such as verbal abuse, racial slurs or name calling; around one in 10 Australian says they have experienced race-based exclusions in the workplace or social events; and more than one in 20 Australians says they have been physically attacked because of their race.

The campaign, embraced by the City of Greater Dandenong in the form of its 'Racism. Get Up. Speak Out' program, aims to raise awareness about racism and its effect on individuals and communities; give individuals and organisations tools and resources to take practical actions against racism; and empower individuals and organisations. It was for this bold and innovative campaign that the council won its national award last night.

In addition, I note that, on 29 April this year, the City of Greater Dandenong made a formal submission opposing the Abbott government's attack on the provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, provisions that protect our communities against racist hate speech. I congratulate the council for emphatically rejecting Senator Brandis's view that 'people do have a right to be bigots'. In its cover letter, the council said:

As a Victorian municipality with sixty per cent of residents born overseas, the City of Greater. Dandenong celebrates diversity and proactively seeks to address local racial discrimination. … Anti-racism is a matter of strong sentiment in this municipality.

The council also pointed out:

Within Greater Dandenong, those most affected by this amendment would include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and members of certain religious groups, many of whom experience discrimination on a regular basis.

I again congratulate the City of Greater Dandenong council for the local government award they won and for their strong opposition to the government's proposed changes.