Victoria University launches anti-racism roadmap for Melbourne’s southeast

VU has released a community-led report, which focuses on anti-racism support for residents in the Cities of Casey and Greater Dandenong.
Thursday 20 April 2023

Victoria University released a report today recommending effective ways for residents in Melbourne’s southeast to speak out against racism and find support services in their local areas.

The study was conducted in partnership with the rapidly growing Cities of Casey and Greater Dandenong  – where nearly two-thirds of residents are born overseas and more than 200 languages are spoken.

Through surveys, focus groups and workshops conducted over 18 months in 2021 and 2022, the project uncovered residents’ experiences with racism, views on reporting, and anti-racism support services. It found:

  • more than three-out-of-five participants or their families had experienced racism in the previous 12 months, mainly at work, when shopping, or at school;
  • common forms of racism were microaggressions, insults, and unfair treatment
  • four-out-of-five respondents who experienced racism did not report it because: they didn’t think it would change anything; didn’t know where to go; had language barriers; didn’t trust existing services; or were concerned about negative backlash;
  • the main motivations for those who did report their experiences were: to raise awareness about racism; get legal assistance; or find emotional or psychological support
  • most participants who reported racist incidents were disappointed with the reporting experience and outcome
  • participants said they would be more likely to report racism if reporting and support services were: offered by organisations they trusted; better qualified to respond; more culturally-sensitive; and offered advocacy and empathy instead of a bureaucratic reporting procedure.

VU researchers Associate Professor Mario Peucker and Professor Tom Clark collaborated with community organisations and residents to develop a local ‘roadmap’ of practical ways that reporting and support services could be tailored to the specific needs of local communities.

Member for Holt MP Cassandra Fernando (left), VU social inclusion researcher, Dr Mario Peucker, and Mayor of Greater Dandenong, Councillor Eden Foster.

L-R: Member for Holt MP Cassandra Fernando, VU social inclusion researcher, Dr Mario Peucker, and Mayor of Greater Dandenong, Councillor Eden Foster.

Dr Peucker said under-reporting racism was common, and the reasons behind it needed to be addressed systematically, without expecting people who experienced racism to navigate difficult reporting processes.

If we want more people to speak out against racism, we must ensure those who face racism have clear and effective ways to connect to the support they desire.

This is the third place-based anti-racism roadmap the VU researchers have developed for specific municipalities, with a report launched for the City of Wyndam in 2021 and the City of Whittlesea in 2022.

Dr Peucker emphasised that racism happened in all municipalities ­– and nothing indicated Casey or Greater Dandenong was a particular hotspot.

In 2022, the researchers also collaborated with Welcoming Cities – a national network of towns and cities committed to creating communities of belonging – to launch a step-by-step guide for racism reporting and support services that can be used by all local governments across Australia.

Dr Mario Peucker and residents who participated in the research are available for interview.

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