POLITICS

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane Launches New Ads As Counter To Rising Racial Intolerance

A new campaign is attempting to counter rising racial intolerance.

05/10/2017 9:01 AM AEDT | Updated 05/10/2017 9:11 AM AEDT

CANBERRA -- Two women are pictured running for a lift. For the first, a man holds the doors open with a friendly greeting. For the second, he lets the doors slide shut in her face.

The difference? The first woman is white, the second is a woman of colour.

Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane says there are signs that intolerance is on the rise, and it's these seemingly small moments of casual racism that are affecting people's lives.

A new series of TV and social media advertisements, created for the Commission, are running from Thursday with a focus on racism that can happen while during everyday things like catching a cab or trying to jump in a closing elevator.

They are the latest in the campaign with the tag line, "Racism. It stops with me," which started in 2012 featuring top sports stars such as Adam Goodes and Sally Pearson. Soutphommasane hopes the ads encourage Australians to take a stand. He told HuffPost Australia they are needed more than ever.

"We are seeing some ugliness in our debates. There are signs that intolerance is on the rise," he said. "We must emphatically reject racism and make clear it has no place in our society."

"Racism and xenophobia still exist. This needs to change."

The new local push comes in a climate of racism that has captured national attention; revelations of name calling of former Collingwood AFL star Hèritier Lumumba, the chastising of Yassmin Abdel-Magied and the stoush over colonial statues, but the Human Rights Commission is here to remind us it can be a whole lot more subtle than media storms.

In the two new Australian ads, an Aboriginal man is refused a taxi in preference to a Caucasian man. In this circumstance, the white man insists the other man was first. In the lift scenario, as the door closes in the face of the black woman, another woman sees what is happening and jumps out and join her.

Soutphommasane said it's up to all of us to take a stand.

Research shows people of Aboriginal and African descent experience extremely high levels of racial discrimination, particularly at work or while doing everyday things like shopping.

While making up about 3 percent of the population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for more than half (54 percent) the complaints received by the Commission (2015-16) under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Reconciliation Australia also found 37 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced racial abuse in the previous six months, while the Scanlon Foundation found 59 percent of Indigenous respondents had experienced racial discrimination in the last year.

The Scanlon Foundation also found 54 percent of those surveyed with an African background had experienced discrimination in the past year, lifting to 77 percent for people with a South Sudanese background.

The ads will run over the next two months.

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