STATEMENT: Poliversity for Marriage Equality

STATEMENT: Poliversity for Marriage Equality

Poliversity is proud to stand with Australians from all backgrounds pushing for marriage equality in Australia.

Poliversity is vigorously opposed to the plebiscite and the proposed postal survey as both policies open the doors for further discrimination and hate speech. While we oppose the divisive and expensive postal survey, we encourage all Australians to enrol and send a strong message to end discrimination and inequality by voting yes for marriage equality.

Prolonging the issue of marriage equality and denying LGBTI Australians equal rights will have long term negative ramifications. Our experience working with Australians from multicultural and interfaith backgrounds have shown us the damaging effects of discrimination. Australia is a tolerant and inclusive country and there is no place for discrimination and hate speech.

Poliversity is particularly concerned for the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Australians from multicultural backgrounds. In addition to facing discrimination externally, multicultural LGBTI Australians are subject to added pressures from people within their own communities. Due to cultural and religious values, there are a number of multicultural LGBTI Australians that are fearful of coming out. Poliversity pledges to advocate for a greater focus and resources to support LGBTI Australians from multicultural backgrounds.

Poliversity condemns discrimination in all forms and will continue to work with the Australian Labor Party and the Rainbow Labor Network to fight for the equal rights of LGBTI Australians.

STATEMENT: ALP ‘Employ Australians First’ advertisement

STATEMENT: ALP ‘Employ Australians First’ advertisement

Poliversity notes that the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ‘Employ Australians First’ advertisement does not accurately reflect the diversity of the Australian workforce which the party itself embraces.

We have received feedback from members of multicultural communities who are concerned about the lack of diversity portrayed in the advertisement. Its clear Australians, regardless of background, expect more from the ALP in demonstrating inclusiveness.

Poliversity has received strong support from federal Labor caucus members, our Co-Patrons and federal Leader Bill Shorten for its platform committed to a more culturally diverse ALP and Australian politics in general.

Poliversity appreciates Bill Shorten for acknowledging the oversight so promptly and would like to thank the ALP for taking action in removing the advertisement.

Poliversity will be following up with the ALP National Secretariat to help ensure the diverse and inclusive views of multicultural Australia continue to be reflected in the work of the administrative wing of the party.

MEDIA RELEASE: Hey Mark Latham, stop your bigotry!

MEDIA RELEASE: Hey Mark Latham, stop your bigotry!

Mark Latham’s media stunt filming people in Western Sydney not being able to speak English to ‘prove’ multiculturalism isn’t working is disturbing.

Despite Mark Latham being a former leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), he sounds more like a spokesperson for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

Co-founder and Chair of Poliversity Wesa Chau said “If you ask me, his beliefs are better suited to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

“Poliversity is happy to chip in to pay for his membership, although even then he’s outdated in his anti-Asian racism stance by about twenty years.”

As a national partisan organisation that promotes multicultural representation and leadership within the ALP, Poliversity believes his views do not reflect the views of the labour movement.

“Targeting older Australians and recently arrived migrants with an ‘English test’ and whether they have any friends from an Asian background achieves nothing but cause division within a successful cohesive multicultural society”, said Ms Chau.

“The people he targeted were probably caught off-guard and left speechless rather than being unable to communicate in English.

“He is welcome to come and speak to my fellow Poliversity board members or myself rather than targeting Australians from multicultural backgrounds on the street.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Cabramatta and Fairfield because they had to endure Mark Latham’s brand of racism and bigotry.

“How are we supposed to have a cooperative cohesive society when we have people like Mark Latham roaming around?”

Our tips for Mark Latham:

  • If you want to use English language abilities to assess the success of multiculturalism, it’s better to start in law firms, accounting firms, startups and IT companies and talk to people from multicultural backgrounds.
  • If you’re looking for a political roof, join Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
  • Let the Australian public know the next community you’re preparing to target so community members can prepare their response to your bigotry and insults.
OPINION: Multiculturalism in Australia – we still have a long way

OPINION: Multiculturalism in Australia – we still have a long way

Original post on SBS by our co-founder Jieh-Yung Lo.

On 21 March, Australians from all backgrounds will be celebrating Harmony Day – an initiative developed by the federal government in 1999 to recognise and celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity.

To coincide with this important celebration, the Turnbull Government has launched a new Multicultural Statement this week entitled “Releasing Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful.”

Malcolm Turnbull is calling on all Australians to unite under the shared values of ‘freedom, democracy, the rule of law and equality of opportunity. With words such as ‘integration’, ‘values’ and ‘security’, the Turnbull Government’s statement echoes views shared by the Howard Government where Peter Costello described multiculturalism as ‘mushy’ and Andrew Robb referring the ‘M’ word (multiculturalism) as a philosophy that put ‘allegiances to original culture ahead of national loyalty.’

As an Australian of Chinese heritage, I am concerned that the Turnbull Government’s Multicultural Statement is steering Australia back into the past rather than looking towards the future. I am disappointed that the Turnbull Government did not use this opportunity to develop a policy statement that would help multicultural Australia fulfil its incredible potential.

Yes, the Prime Minister is correct in saying that our cultural diversity is one of our greatest assets. About 28 per cent of Australians were born overseas with an additional 20 per cent having at least one parent born overseas.

Australians come from 300 ancestries and close to 20 per cent of Australians speak another language other than English at home.

The questions I would like to ask the Prime Minister and his government is – do our institutions reflect Australia’s cultural diversity make up? Is Australia’s cultural diversity represented within positions of senior leadership in our governments, parliaments and executive boardrooms? The short answers are – no.

According to the ‘Leading for Change‘ blueprint released by the Australian Human Rights Commission in July 2016, only 4.98 per cent of ASX 200 CEOs, 1.61 per cent of federal and state public service Secretaries and heads of department, and 0 per cent of federal Ministers and Assistant Ministers come from a non-European background.

Results from the blueprint demonstrate that senior leadership teams across Australian sectors fail to reflect Australia’s multicultural communities and workforce.

When it comes to direct representation, no place is more relevant than the Parliament of Australia. Research from the blueprint identified that 79 per cent of the 226 elected members in the Australian Parliament have an Anglo-Celtic background, 16 per cent have a European background and those from a non-European background make up less than four per cent of the total.

For many of Australia’s recent and new arrivals, they do not feel the Parliament of Australia is representative and reflective of our diverse society.

The research has also found that leadership within Australian institutions remain Anglo-Celtic and out of reach for Australians from multicultural and interfaith backgrounds.

Institutions such as businesses, corporations and government departments are simply not making use of our cultural diversity make up. What’s worse is that there are many leaders, policy and decision-makers whom do not recognise the value Australians from multicultural and interfaith backgrounds bring to the decision making table.

Australians from multicultural and interfaith backgrounds face many challenges and barriers including institutional racism in workplaces, discrimination and bias and the lack of cultural understanding from senior leaders and decision-makers.

Businesses, governments and parliaments need to do more to cultivate and promote inclusive leadership, provide opportunities for people from multicultural, culturally and linguistically diverse and interfaith backgrounds to serve in leadership roles, respond to bias and discrimination in the workplace; set up performance targets and introduce policies and measures that recognise the potential of cultural diversity.

Responding to these challenges requires our governments to show leadership and set a positive example.

In my experience working with multicultural communities, embracing cultural diversity brings financial and social capital.

Research from US-based global management consultant firm McKinsey has shown that US businesses with a multicultural workforce are 35 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their competitors.

In an increasingly globalised world and economy, having a culturally and linguistically diverse workforce that possesses knowledge and understanding of a range of different cultures and languages can give Australia and our businesses an edge over its competitors.

Having elected representatives from multicultural backgrounds serving in parliaments also increases the interest, engagement and participation of Australians from multicultural backgrounds in politics and our democratic processes.

I’ve witnessed this firsthand as a former local government councillor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Monash. My presence on the City of Monash encouraged the local Chinese and Asian-Australian community to engage and connect with the council’s policies and activities, with some community members telling me that it was the first time they made contact with their local council representative.

Rather than focusing on national security, violent extremism, counter-terrorism and border protection, I would’ve liked to see the policy statement focus more on the potential, aspirations, opportunities and strength of multiculturalism in Australia.

The Turnbull Government had an opportunity to shift the debate and discussion of multiculturalism in Australia by presenting a case to change the status quo and a call to arms for Australian institutions to embrace multiculturalism in their day-to-day operations.

The Prime Minister has reiterated time and time again that we are the most successful multicultural society in the World.

While there’s much for Australia to be proud of, we have merely scratched the surface of Australia’s multicultural and cultural diversity potential.

Jieh-Yung Lo is a member of the Australian-Chinese community, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and is co-founder of Poliversity, a “national partisan independent organisation affiliated with the ALP that promotes multicultural representation, leadership & engagement.”

OPINION: I’ve never seen an issue bring community leaders together like 18C

OPINION: I’ve never seen an issue bring community leaders together like 18C

Original post on The Guardian by our co-founder Jieh-Yung Lo.

The year was 1998. My family just re-located from Footscray to Wantirna South in metropolitan Melbourne. I moved from my first secondary school in West Melbourne, at that time a school comprised of students from many nationalities, to a school where I was only one of two students from an Asian background in my year level. The two years spent at that high school in Ferntree Gully were not easy. During those years, I was not known by the majority of fellow classmates for my academic ability or sporting prowess. I was known as that “Chinese kid with the funny sounding name”.

My ethnicity also gave birth to many names in the playground such as “chink, zipper-head, ching chong and yellow monkey”. Every time I hear these names coming from my classmates, I would wonder why people living in this country, my country of birth, would judge me based on my ethnicity and appearance.

This experience motivated me to dedicate my life to put a stop to racism and vilification. Racist words and attitudes are hurtful, offensive and if no proper action is taken, can lead to further harassment. Racist hate speech can damage an individual’s self confidence and self-esteem leading to social attitudes of racial supremacism, prejudice and racial separatism. I do not want to see my fellow Australians of ethnic backgrounds experience such harsh treatment and judgment.

For four long years, alongside many multicultural community leaders, I have advocated for the retention of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). Like representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Asian-Australian, European-Australian, African-Australian and Indigenous Australian communities, we were concerned the Abbott government would move to repeal 18C all together. After nearly a decade working with multicultural and interfaith Australians, I have never seen an issue that has brought all community leaders together under one banner. Community representatives have taken to the streets as well as appearing at parliamentary committee hearings with the purpose of protecting 18C as it stands.

The anti-18C advocates have got it all wrong. Section 18C is not about freedom of speech, section 18D already provides protection of freedom of speech. Section 18C is about protecting Australians from all backgrounds from hate speech – and there is a big difference.

For the past 40 years, the RDA has played an important role in protecting and maintaining Australia’s cohesive, diverse and multicultural society. While Australia at the national level remains one of the very few liberal democracies to not have a national bill of rights, the RDA has effectively served in that capacity by ensuring all Australians, regardless of race and background, are treated fairly and equally.

According to a survey commissioned by SBS and Western Sydney University, one in five Australians have experienced racism in the past 12 months. Nearly a third of those surveyed said they have experienced racism within their workplace and educational facility. At least 35% of respondents said they’ve experienced racism on public transport and nearly half of Indigenous respondents said they have experienced racism in some shape or form at sporting events.

It is unfortunate that so many people are still made to feel unwelcome in our diverse country. This is why calls to water down section 18C and the RDA would send the wrong message to potential offenders that discrimination, vilification and hate speech is accepted in our society.

Results from the same survey indicate that up to 77% of Muslim women in Australia have experienced racism on public transport or in the street. To ensure Australians from interfaith backgrounds are given adequate legislative protection, I would like to see sections 18C and 18D strengthened by adding “religion” into the protection.

Such protections already exist in state based legislation such as the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 in Victoria and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 in New South Wales and it should also be included at the federal level. We live in a society that allows an individual to practice any religion they choose. Muslim Australians should be able to practice their faith without fear, judgment and vilification.

After a three-month public inquiry, the parliamentary joint committee on human rights handed down its report this week. The report recommended minimal changes to 18C but the biggest change of all is to the operation of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the complaints handling process, including the appointment of a judge to serve as a judicial member to deal with initial complaints – a suggestion that many of us in the multicultural and interfaith communities have asked for.

Section 18C is not there to prohibit free speech, it is there to prevent hate speech. A majority of the anti-18C advocates do not understand how it feels to be judged on the basis of their skin colour or faith. They have never been put in a situation where their fellow citizens have made them feel unwelcome in their own country.

The decision to prevent racist hate speech from gaining further prominence is in the hands of the prime minister. For the sake of Australia’s multicultural, harmonious and inclusive society, we hope he will make the right decision and put an end to any further attempts to water down 18C.

Jieh-Yung Lo is the co-founder of Poliversity and a member of the Australian-Chinese community.

MEDIA RELEASE: Multicultural representation the big winner in local government elections

MEDIA RELEASE: Multicultural representation the big winner in local government elections

Poliversity congratulates all citizens from multicultural backgrounds nominating for the 2016 local government elections in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.

As an independent organisation affiliated with the Australian Labor Party (ALP), Poliversity is endorsing and working with a number of ALP members from multicultural backgrounds contesting local government elections.

Poliversity’s Co-founder Jieh-Yung Lo said it was pleasing to see so many ALP members from multicultural, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and interfaith backgrounds putting their hand up to serve and represent their local communities.

“NSW and Victorian councils are some of Australia’s must culturally, religiously and linguistically diverse communities. We want to see this diversity represented in city halls and council chambers.

“As a former local government councillor, I understand the important role local governments play in fostering inclusive and welcoming communities. Local governments do more than just roads, rates and rubbish – they deliver hundreds of services and programs to strengthen community capacity and wellbeing.

“For many multicultural, CALD and interfaith Australians, seeing a representative from their background elected to public office means a lot.

“A councillor from a multicultural background helps the council reach out and connect with their communities to ensure their views and ideas are incorporated to council policies and programs.”

Poliversity’s endorsed candidates for the 2016 local government elections in NSW and Victoria are:

  1. Sera Yilmaz – Candidate for Parks Ward, Fairfield City Council (NSW) – elected
  2. Adrian Wong – Candidate for Cabravale Ward, Fairfield City Council (NSW) – elected
  3. Parsuram Sharma-Luital – Candidate for North West Ward, Moreland City Council (VIC)
  4. Melba Marginson – Candidate for Yarraville Ward, Maribyrnong City Council (VIC)
  5. Paul Klisaris – Candidate for Mulgrave Ward, Monash City Council (VIC)
  6. Wesa Chau (Strengthening Melbourne team) – Councillor candidate, Melbourne City Council (VIC)
  7. Nildhara Gadani – Candidate for Morack Ward, Whitehorse City Council (VIC)
  8. Joseph Haweil – Candidate for Aitken Ward, Hume City Council (VIC)
  9. Raff Ciccone – Candidate for Mount Waverley Ward, Monash City Council (VIC)
  10. Wei Shen – Candidate for La Trobe Ward, Darebin City Council (VIC)
  11. Hyma Vulpala – Candidate for Tirhatuan Ward, Knox City Council (VIC)
  12. Cr Jami Klisaris – Candidate for East Ward, Stonnington City Council (VIC)
  13. Jana Taylor – Candidate for Meadow Valley Ward, Hume City Council (VIC)
  14. Cr Nga Hosking – Candidate for Oakleigh Ward, Monash City Council (VIC)
  15. Cr Steve Staikos – Candidate for North Ward, Kingston City Council (VIC)
  16. Cr Meng Heang Tak – Candidate for Paperbark Ward, Greater Dandenong City Council (VIC)

Poliversity congratulates our first two endorsed candidates Sera Yilmaz and Adrian Wong for being successfully elected as councillors for Fairfield City Council in NSW.

We wish our Victorian endorsed candidates all the best on 22 October 2016.

A dialogue with Senator Jenny McAllister

A dialogue with Senator Jenny McAllister

Appreciating culturally diverse people in Australian businesses

Poliversity is providing a unique opportunity for Australian leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to participate in the Appreciating culturally diverse people in Australian businesses dialogue with Senator Jenny McAllister.

Held on Saturday 19 November 2016, the purpose of the dialogue is to discuss the importance of cultural diversity leadership in the Australian workplace and provide practical solutions on what governments and policy makers can do to improve the situation in Australia to ensure Australians from CALD backgrounds reach their potential in their chosen professions. If selected, participants will get the opportunity to share their views and ideas with a leading member of the Australian Senate. Your innovative ideas will contribute to further research and consultation conducted by Poliversity, which aims to encourage governments and businesses to embrace policies and practices that encourage the recognition of cultural diversity leadership in the workplace.

In addition to Australians from CALD backgrounds, the dialogue is open to Anglo-Australians. It is important to note that seats are limited.

Date: Saturday 19 Nov 2016

Time: 10am

Venue: Sydney CBD (the venue will be sent to you as we confirm your participation)

This event is limited to 25 people.

Expression of Interest

Please follow the following link to fill in an expression of interest form.

*An expression of interest does not guarantee participation.

MEDIA RELEASE: Labor Shadow Ministry expands focus on multiculturalism

MEDIA RELEASE: Labor Shadow Ministry expands focus on multiculturalism

Leader of the Opposition and federal Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Bill Shorten MP has renewed and expanded the ALP’s focus on multiculturalism with the announcement of one Shadow Minister and two Assistant Shadow Ministers.

In the new Shadow Ministry, Tony Burke MP was appointed to the position of Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia. The multiculturalism portfolio has also been bolstered with two Assistant Shadow Ministers Senator Jacinta Collins and Julie Owens MP.

“Poliversity congratulates Tony Burke on his new role. As a former Minister in this portfolio in the previous Labor Government and an advocate for the protection of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, Mr Burke will bring tremendous passion and energy to the portfolio”, said Jieh-Yung Lo, Co-founder of Poliversity.

“The appointment of Senator Jacinta Collins and Julie Owens MP ensures two of Australia’s most multicultural states Victoria and New South Wales are represented. We congratulate and wish them well in their new roles.

With one in four of Australians born overseas and nearly 20 per cent of Australians speaking another language other than English at home, it is vital to take a whole of government approach to protecting and investing in multicultural Australia.

“Having a dedicated Shadow Cabinet Minister and two Assistant Shadow Ministers in the ALP Shadow Ministry ensures the issues facing multicultural Australians are effectively responded to.

Poliversity would like to offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to the former Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism Michelle Rowland MP for her leadership, support and endorsement of our vision and mission.

“Ms Rowland officially launched Poliversity on behalf of the ALP back in February 2016. During the launch, she spoke of Poliversity acting as a force of opportunity and equality for multicultural Australians to succeed in the ALP. We are looking forward to working with her and all ALP MPs to enhance multicultural representation and leadership in the ALP.

“Under Ms Rowland’s leadership, the ALP presented positive policies and new funding commitments during the 2016 federal election to advance multiculturalism. We are confident the ALP will continue to make multiculturalism a priority in the new parliament”, concluded Mr Lo.

MEDIA RELEASE: Labor embraces multicultural representation

MEDIA RELEASE: Labor embraces multicultural representation

Poliversity congratulates the Hon Bill Shorten MP for leading a federal Labor team that represents the multicultural make up of Australia in the 2016 federal election.

Australia has become one of the world’s most successful multicultural nations where Australians come from 200 countries and speak over 260 languages. Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds represent 44 percent of the population with four million Australians speak a language other than English.

From Peter Khalil contesting the federal electorate of Wills to Chris Gambian in Banks and Stefanie Perri in Chisholm, Labor is presenting multicultural Australia with a team of candidates that reflects the growing diversity of our nation.

Poliversity congratulates all the ALP candidates from CALD backgrounds contesting the 2016 federal election. They are listed below:

  • The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Federal Member for Sydney
  • Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Senator for South Australia
  • The Hon Anthony Albanese, Federal Member for Grayndler
  • Anne Aly, Candidate for Cowan
  • Maria Vamvakinou, Federal Member for Calwell
  • Shashi Bhatti, Candidate for Gippsland
  • Michael Danby MP, Federal Member for Melbourne Ports
  • The Hon Mark Dreyfus MP, Federal Member for Isaacs
  • Chris Gambian, Candidate for Banks
  • Steve Georganas, Candidate for Hindmarsh
  • Emma Husar, Candidate for Lindsay
  • The Hon Ed Husic MP, Federal Member for Chifley
  • Sophie Ismail, Candidate for Melbourne
  • Peter Khalil, Candidate for Wills
  • Paul Klisaris, Candidate for Aston
  • Tim Kurylowicz, Candidate for Riverina
  • Hovig Melkonian, Candidate for Casey
  • Stefanie Perri, Candidate for Chisholm
  • Michelle Rowland MP, Federal Member for Greenway
  • Angelo Tsirekas, Candidate for Reid
  • Senator Sam Dastyari, Senator for New South Wales
  • Shou Zhou, Senate Candidate for New South Wales
  • Jagath Bandara, Senate Candidate for New South Wales
  • Paul Han, Senate Candidate for New South Wales
  • Senator the Hon Lisa Singh, Senator for Tasmania
  • Jennifer “Chien-Hui” Yang, Senate Candidate for Victoria

Poliversity Co-founder Jieh-Yung Lo said, “Since Poliversity’s establishment, we have been advocating for greater multicultural representation within the ALP. We welcome the ALP’s recognition of the leadership skills and experience of candidates from CALD backgrounds in this federal election.”

“By having more Australians from CALD backgrounds in the ALP party room, we ensure the issues, needs and aspirations of multicultural Australians are effectively heard and represented.”

Poliversity wishes these candidates all the best on July 2nd.

MEDIA RELEASE: Labor commits to multiculturalism and cohesion

MEDIA RELEASE: Labor commits to multiculturalism and cohesion

Poliversity welcomes the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ongoing commitment to multiculturalism and cohesion on its policy announcement today to provide an extra $28.5M of new funding to invest in English language programs to support new migrants, community hubs and strengthen anti-discrimination programs.

Labor’s funding announcement and positive policy will ensure new migrants receive the support they need to participate socially and economically to Australia’s society, fostering social cohesion and protecting communities against racism and discrimination.

Labor’s proposal Community Cohesion Program – Investing in New Migrants includes the following initiatives:

  • $24M over the forward estimates to increase funding to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) to deliver more courses and greater support for new migrants to learn English and in gain long term employment
  • $3M over the forward estimates to increase funding to the National Community Hubs Program to expand community hubs to support new migrant communities
  • $1.5M over the forward estimates to increase funding for the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign

Labor’s announcement today of extra funding is on top of the $28.3M of new funding announced last month to advance multiculturalism in Australia.

“Poliversity congratulates the ALP for showing national leadership to strengthening multiculturalism and social cohesion in Australia”, said Jieh-Yung Lo, Co-founder of Poliversity.

“The Liberals under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull on the other hand have slashed funding to cohesion initiatives such as the Building Multicultural Communities Program and have yet to release any policies and funding commitments on strengthening multiculturalism and cultural diversity across Australia.

“Labor proudly stood up against attacks to Section 18C and the watering down of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) by the Coalition Government. Labor’s commitment to increase funding to the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign demonstrates Labor’s determination to protect multicultural communities from racism and discrimination.

“Poliversity is looking forward to continue working with the ALP to ensure Australians of multicultural backgrounds, new and emerging communities and new migrants achieve their aspirations and reach their potential”, concluded Mr Lo.