50 years of naming institutional racism: realising racial equity or intensifying injustices?

1 November to 3 November 2017
9am to 7.30pm
Deakin Downtown

It has now been half a century since the term ‘institutional racism’ was first coined in Black Power (1967) by Charles Hamilton and Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). This conference will explore how far we have progressed during the last half century in elucidating the nature of, and effective countermeasures for, institutional racism.

Event details

It has now been half a century since the term ‘institutional racism’ was first coined in Black Power (1967) by Charles Hamilton and Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). In this seminal work, they considered institutional racism as a form of racism ’less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But…no less destructive to human life…originat[ing] in the operation of established and respected forces in society’ (p. 4).

Institutional racism is a concept that retains much currency, if not a resurgence, in the 21st century through ongoing controversies in politics, policing, education and healthcare, among others. This conference will explore how far we have progressed during the last half century in elucidating the nature of, and effective countermeasures for, institutional racism.

The questions this conference will consider include: what critiques of the institutional racism as a concept have emerged over this time? What do we know of its articulation with colonisation and other intersecting forms of oppression across various contexts? What have we learnt about the interplay between individual agency and organisational structure in constituting institutional racism? What success and failures have emerged in efforts to combat racism within institutions?

Keynote speakers

Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Dr Tim Soutphommasane


Institutional racism in a multicultural society

Australia prides itself on its multicultural character. Even so, institutional racism continues to exist, as evident in arenas such as health, education and justice. What are the barriers to racial equality and equity in Australia? And how is Australia placed to deal with racial prejudice and discrimination? These questions demand conversations about the relationship between race, power and institutions.


Dr Tim Soutphommasane has been Race Discrimination Commissioner since August 2013. Prior to joining the Australian Human Rights Commission, Tim was a political philosopher and held posts at The University of Sydney and Monash University. His thinking on multiculturalism, patriotism and national identity has been influential in shaping debates in Australia and Britain.

Tim is the author of four books: I’m Not Racist But … (2015), The Virtuous Citizen (2012), Don't Go Back To Where You Came From (2012), and Reclaiming Patriotism (2009). He was co-editor (with Nick Dyrenfurth) of All That's Left (2010). He has been an opinion columnist with The Age and The Weekend Australian newspapers, and presented the documentary series Mongrel Nation on ABC Radio National (2013). Tim is an adjunct professor at the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University and chairs the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity.

Born in France and raised in southwest Sydney, Tim holds a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy (with Distinction) from the University of Oxford, and is a first-class honours graduate of The University of Sydney.

Dr Luis Eduardo Batista, Institute of Health, Sao Paulo

Dr Luis Eduardo Batista


Institutional Racism in the Brazilian health system

Racism deeply structures the scope of Brazilian society, it is the basis of the creation and maintenance of privileges, it is related to living conditions and it is also visible in the quality of health care and care. Epidemiological studies evidence racism as a determinant of access to services and quality of health care for whites, blacks, indigenous and yellows (color). To face institutionalized racism, it is necessary to create spaces for discussion and execution of public policies.

The strategy used by the Brazilian State to confront racism in health was to implement the health care policy of the black population, but how is the implementation of this Policy being implemented? How is the Brazilian state facing institutional racism?


Luís Eduardo Batista holds a master's degree and a PhD in Sociology. Scientific Researcher, was coordinator of the health area of the black population of the State Department of Health of São Paulo for eight years. Has developed studies on the impact of racism on health, racial inequalities and health. It belongs to the group of researchers who have collaborated with the implementation of the National Policy of Integral Health of the Black Population. He has experience in Collective Health, working mainly in the following subjects: vulnerable populations, racial inequalities and health, gender and race / ethnicity.

Ms Priscilla Brice, Managing Director, All Together Now

Ms Priscilla Brice


How might we achieve racial equity in Australia?

Australia has a positive reputation for its successful multicultural policies and practices. Yet, Australia is also known as a country with racist tendencies and a long history of institutionalised racism. This dichotomy persists despite the efforts of many activists who have worked to reduce racism and increase the racial equity of people of colour, new migrants and First Australians. Priscilla Brice is one such activist who has over the past decade dedicated herself to evidence-based racism prevention. Priscilla believes that there is still cause for hope for anti-racism activists in Australia, even in the current environment in which racism appears to be increasing. In this keynote talk, Priscilla will share some of the insights she has gained from her work and offer her perspective on actions that Australia should take to advance racial equity in Australia.


Priscilla Brice is the founder and Managing Director of All Together Now, Australia’s racial equity organisation. All Together Now produces creative projects that educate people about racism and compel people to take action.

While working as a campaigner for an Indigenous rights organisation, Priscilla realised that although there were occasional anti-racism campaigns in Australia, nobody appeared to be doing this work consistently. She felt particularly dismayed about the way asylum seekers and Aboriginal people have been treated in Australia, and wanted to help improve the situation by applying evidence-based best practice.

Priscilla is on the International Advisory Board of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, and the National Advisory Board of the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University.

Priscilla has an MBA in Social Impact from the University of NSW. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship that enabled her to visit, investigate and learn from antiracism NGOs in Europe and North America during 2014. Priscilla was also awarded a University of Western Sydney Community Award in 2013 for establishing the award-winning One Parramatta project and All Together Now more broadly.

Dr Heather Came, School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies, Auckland University of Technology

Heather Came


A plotted critical review of efforts to transform institutional racism in Aotearoa

After the release of Carmichael and Hamilton’s visionary Black Power (1967), New Zealand had the mega-conflict of the 1981 Spring Bok tour anti-apartheid protests, the land occupations of the 1980s. Landmark texts such as Māori Sovereignty (Awatere, 1983) and Puao te ata tu (Ministerial Advisory Committee, 1988) documented institutional racism throughout New Zealand social systems. Decades on this systemic racism continues to thrive and the decolonisation project remains incomplete despite the concerted efforts of many.

This paper presents a plotted critical review of efforts to transform institutional racism in New Zealand – a tale of persistence, resilience, triumph, frustration, near-misses, failure and hope.


Dr Heather Came is a seventh generation Pākehā New Zealander who grew up on Ngātiwai land. She has worked for nearly 25 years in health promotion, public health and/or Māori health and has a long involvement in social justice activism. Heather is a founding member and co-chair of STIR: Stop Institutional Racism, a fellow of the Health Promotion Forum, co-chair of the Auckland branch of the Public Health Association and an active member of Tāmaki Tiriti Workers. She currently embraces life as an activist scholar. She is a Senior Lecturer based in the Taupua Waiora Māori Health Research Centre within Auckland University of Technology.

Dr Matthew Farry, Director, Institute for Courageous Conversations About Race, Unitec Institute of Technology

Dr Matthew Farry


Courageous Conversation: A Protocol for achieving racial equity transformation in the education system and beyond

Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) is a protocol for building racial equity in education and beyond. Since 2012, Dr Matthew Farry and a dedicated team of leaders have been applying the CCAR Protocol in the context of higher education in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Protocol is aimed at a deep, ongoing, systemic transformation of the higher education system, so that staff and students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds can achieve to their highest potential and live their most empowered and powerful lives.

The CCAR Protocol is an internationally recognized approach for examining public and private institutions and addressing, in a direct, compassionate and uncompromising way, the structures that promote and sustain racial disparity. Grounded in the Aotearoa, New Zealand context and aligned with the Treaty of Waitangi, it provides participants with navigational tools to use in their personal and professional lives, leading to significant short-term impact and longstanding organisational change. The CCAR Protocol provides organisations with the tools and strategies to engage, sustain and deepen intra- and inter-racial dialogue about race and culture. Through the Institute for Courageous Conversations About Race, Matthew and his team have created a space where staff, students, industry and community can come together to answer a very straightforward but essential question: How can I contribute to a more racially equitable Aotearoa, under the Treaty of Waitangi, in the context of ever increasing racial and ethnic diversity?

In this keynote address, Matthew provides an introduction to the CCAR Protocol and Racial Equity Transformation Framework. He shares some of his team's experiences setting up CCAR in Aotearoa, New Zealand and examines how the Protocol and Framework have contributed to the movement for racial equity transformation. He explores the topic of institutional racism and its impact on social indicators in the education system and beyond. He then gives a brief introduction to the tools for Courageous Conversations (the Agreements, Conditions, and Compass) and examines the key role of honest, “courageous conversation” about race in challenging the insidious and pervasive effects that institutional racism has on social indicators across the board.


Matthew has worked extensively, as a leader, teacher and researcher, in the fields of migration, settlement, intercultural communication, anti-racism and social justice in organisational development. After receiving his doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Otago in 2000, he relocated to Lebanon. During his time there, he held positions at the American University of Culture and Education (Director of Communication) and at the Lebanese American University in Beirut (Assistant-Professor in the Division of Social Sciences and Education). Before joining Unitec Institute of Technology in 2009, Matthew worked as an Intercultural Advisor with the Office of Ethnic Communities in the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs. In 2014, Matthew received the International Racial Equity Leadership Award for his work with Courageous Conversations about Race, and in 2016 the Institute for Courageous Conversations about Race received the Cultural Celebration Award. In 2016, he co-led the international think tank on achieving racial equity in higher education at the National Summit for Courageous Conversations about Race in Austin, Texas. He is currently Director of the Institute for Courageous Conversations about Race and Head of Postgraduate Studies in the Te Miro Trans-disciplinary Network, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr Kasey Henricks, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr Kasey Henricks


Not One but Many: Institutional Racism, Monetary Punishment, and the Fergusons of America

What imagery comes to mind upon hearing the word “Ferguson”? Perhaps for some, it is pictures of so-called “riots” being met with a militarized force of camo-clad armour, tear gas, and high power arsenal. Maybe for others, it represents a portrait of innocence lost—one whereby an unarmed, 18-year-old youth was brought to his death at the hands of a “shoot first, ask questions later” police officer. Whereas these images are indicative of the myriad of ways the state wages physical violence against communities of color, captured in phrases like “the New Jim Crow,” “the prison industrial complex,” and “prison nation,” they do not
speak to the quiet suffering of Ferguson. I am talking about institutional racism hidden in plain sight, the kind that is perpetrated by state bureaucrats through paper stacks, financial ledgers, and calculators. I am talking about the bloodless brutality of the tax clerks, accountants, policymakers, city managers, judges, and others who work in quiet, invisible ways to administrate a racial order. I am talking about an obscure subject that is presumed to be arcane and dreary, but nonetheless slowly devastates communities of color in a “killing them softly” variety. I am talking about the institutional racism of public finance.


Kasey Henricks is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee in the United States. Prior to his appointment there, he served as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as a Law and Social Science Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. His research interests lie in understanding how racial inequalities are reproduced over time through institutional arrangements sponsored by tax policy. Dr. Henricks' work has been recognized for excellence by The National
Academies, American Sociological Association, and Society for the Study of Social Problems, and it has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Law and Society Association. Dr. Henricks is co-author (with David G. Embrick) of State Looteries: Historical Continuity, Rearticulations of Racism, and American Taxation which was published by Routledge in 2017, and his research has appeared
in academic outlets such as Social Problems, Social Justice Research, and The Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives.

Professor Alexandra Kalev, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University

Alexandra Kalev


Evidence Based Diversity Management: Why Diversity Programs Fail and What Can We Do About it

Although working together with diverse people and advancing underrepresented groups at work has become an ever more urgent social goal, and corporate diversity programs flourish - equality isn’t improving.  Glass ceilings continue to bar the entrance of minorities to management and discrimination lawsuits continue to cost corporate leaders too much. The reason is simple: most diversity programs don’t increase diversity.   My talk will show which diversity programs have worked to increase workforce diversity in good jobs in over 800 U.S. corporations and which have failed to do so.  I will what makes diversity program work. At the end of the talk the audience will have a clear and concise list of principles for building effectively reducing discrimination at work.


Alexandra Kalev,  a Princeton University PhD, is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the Tel Aviv University. With Frank Dobbin, Kalev examines the effects of diversity programs on corporations and universities workforce diversity. Highlights from this research were featured in the July-August 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review and received the HBR McKinsey Award for 2016.  In research on Israel, Kalev studies the emergence and effectiveness of diversity management as well as Israeli-Palestinians integration in the Jewish economy. Kalev is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Israeli Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She recently published a Diversity Index for the Israeli private-sector industries, which was presented to President Rivlin in December 2016. Kalev’s research has been published in leading U.S. academic journals, and major media outlets, such as NY Times and Harvard Business Review, and funded by the American National Science Foundation, the Bi-National U.S.-Israeli Science Foundation, The Israeli National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, The Safra Center for Ethics and The Israeli Ministry of Science.

Dr Helen Wilson, Department of Geography, Durham University, UK

Dr Helen Wilson


Storying institutional discrimination

How is institutional discrimination engaged through stories? Drawing on ethnographic research that deals with the assembling of anti-violence strategies in the UK and US, the paper considers what part stories play in both the elucidation and counteraction of intersecting modes of institutional discrimination. Through stories that fold in encounters with the police, the healthcare system, social services and other institutional arrangements the paper asks two things. First, how do stories get at the less overt, more subtle, and slippery ways in which forms of institutional discrimination operate and articulate with other forms of discrimination and prejudice? Second, in what context do stories enliven a capacity for response and encourage a move beyond a reflection on favourable circumstance towards some form of action? In asking these questions the paper details both the possibilities and limits of working with stories and what they can tell us about the naming of institutional discrimination.


Helen F. Wilson is an Assistant Professor in Human Geography at Durham University. Before this, she was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester following previous positions at Durham University and the University of Hull. Helen is a cultural geographer with research interests in the geographies of difference – both human and non-human. Helen’s broad interests include: a concern with the geographies of encounter and what they can tell us about difference, relationality, power, and ethics; race and racism; multiculturalism; the geographies of education; and cultural studies. Her current research examines anti-violence strategies and the geographies and mechanics of antagonism. Helen is a board member of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space and co-editor of Encountering the City: Urban Encounters from Accra to New York (Routledge, 2016).


Ms Emily Castle

I Belong: institutional racism and homonational representations of whiteness in public debates about educational access in Australia


In this paper, I analyse media representations of Melbourne Girls’ College (MGC) and its students over the past year to explore how institutional racism is at play in debates concerning educational access in Australia “even or especially” when it is overlooked, denied or displaced. In responses to MGC's perceived exclusion of students from nearby North Richmond housing commission flats (Cook, 2016; Cook, 2017), I propose that the dominant discourse of class-based discrimination or individual merit disregards the complex interplay of institutional racism and reinscribes the normativity of whiteness. I then engage Jasbir Puar’s work on homonationalism (2007) to suggest that, as the first Melbourne school to fly the rainbow flag, MGC’s public display of support for LGBT rights acts to displace attention away from institutional racism and reinstate a positive (white) image of progressive tolerance. I ultimately suggest that critical dialogue around educational access in a settler-colonial nation-state must consider how the liberal project of inclusion and diversity hinges upon the exclusion and racialisation of certain students (Ahmed 2012). This highlights the need for a racially literate analysis (Guinier 2004) that is broad enough to interrogate the intersections of class, geography, gender and sexuality”while never losing sight of the enduring salience of institutional racism.


Emily Castle is a graduate student in the department of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. She is currently undertaking internships in policy development at both the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and with SNAICC’s National Voice for Our Children. Emily first studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) at the Victorian College of the Arts and currently works as the editor of the Bulletin of the Women’s Art Register. She is founder of the feminist collective Brainlina and regularly runs public events aimed at sharing knowledge around feminist theory and practice outside of mainstream institutions. She is an active member of Undercurrent, where she facilitates workshops in high schools about gendered violence, and she also volunteers with the Youth Referral and Independent Person Program and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Dr Chelsea Bond, University of Qld, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

The power of race: A reflection on the 1967 Referendum 'race power' amendment


On the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 referendum, this paper considers the utility of race in the colonial project by reflecting upon the Australian Constitution giving particular attention to the “race power” amendment. 50 years on, there remain many myths surrounding the implication of the resounding yes vote on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with some falsely claiming that it granted citizenship rights, voting rights and/or put an end to racial discrimination. This paper examines the emergence of the Racial Discrimination Act, the occasions of its suspension and more recent attempts to dilute it.  Disentangling these myths and the events that have transpired in relation to the Commonwealth’s exercising of their new found power enables us to consider some hard truths about the power of race, not just within the constitution but within the nation’s consciousness. Somewhat provocatively, this paper considers whether support for Indigenous peoples’ inclusion in Section 51 (xxvi) is worthy of celebration, and whether it did more for Australia’s international standing on race relations than it did to address the racialised inequalities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience.


Dr Chelsea Bond is a Munanjali and South Sea Islander woman and Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit and an affiliate member of UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. Chelsea has almost 20 years’ experience working to improve Indigenous health in the south east Queensland region as a community health worker and health researcher with a strong interest in urban Indigenous health promotion, race, culture, identity and community development. Chelsea’s career has focused on interpreting and privileging Indigenous experiences of the health system including critically examining the role of Aboriginal health workers, the narratives of Indigeneity produced within public health, and advocating for strength based community development approaches to Indigenous health promotion practice. Dr Bond has published a number of papers in relationship to strength-based health promotion practice, Indigenous social capital, and the conceptualization of Aboriginality within public health. Chelsea teaches into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Major at The University of Queensland and is an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow undertaking work examining the experiences of Indigenous educators teaching Indigenous studies within higher educator. Chelsea is also a regular contributor to The Conversation, curator for QPAC’s Clancestry Festival, Guest Host of 98.9FM’s Let’s Talk Program, and board member of Inala Wangarra (an Indigenous community development organisation within her community) and board member of Screen Qld.

Dr Nilmini Fernando, Independent Scholar, Researcher at Women's Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE), Melbourne

Can racism and sexism (ever) be addressed as separable constructs? The non-performativity of Intersectionality in the Australian Context


Can racism and sexism (ever) be addressed as separable constructs? This paper argues not. Through the case of family violence policy in Victoria since the Royal Commission (2015), I argue that intersectionality in Australia is largely “non-performative” (it doesn’t do as it says) and is largely (mis)enacted as a theory of identity, not a theory of power. I propose that the performative and affective economies of representations of gendered “others” remain unheeded in the Australian context in comparison with other postcolonial sites due to weak and insufficient engagement with postcolonial scholarship by academic Aboriginal and feminists of colour. This omission makes it easy for white neoliberal post-feminist and post-racist rhetoric of equality and diversity to drown out critical black and postcolonial feminists who attempt to make gender/race structures of settler colonialism visible and "speakable". This paper re-articulates intersectional theory as a critique of power and introduces an enhanced tool for addressing intersectionality; it argues for deeper, situated engagement with intersectionality in the family violence sector, to address the structural intersections of race/gender that not only perpetuate violence on black and brown female bodies, but attack and derail the agencies of women escaping it.


Nilmini Fernando is a Sri Lankan-born scholar, feminist educator and activist who has lived and worked in Australia, the UK, and Ireland. She obtained her PhD in Women’s Studies at University College Cork, Ireland and her study with African women seeking asylum in Ireland was the first in that context to use postcolonial and black feminist theory to ask: What work does giving asylum do for white Western nations?  Her research interests are in discursive violence, visual/cultural representations of black and women of colour, and the performative and affective work they "do" in humanitarian and community development circuits of representation. Currently based in Melbourne, she writes, guest lectures and conducts research and training at WIRE (Women’s Information and Referral Agency). Her focus is on participatory and decolonial knowledge-making, and the development of an innovative tool for addressing intersectionality in fluid, hyper-diverse cultures in white settler nations like Australia. Her publications include: Fernando, N., 2017, 'The Discursive Violence of Postcolonial Asylum in the Irish Republic', Postcolonial Studies, Special Issue Feminism and Postcolonialism,May 2017; (Forthcoming) Wahala! African Women Troubling Irish Borders, in Irish Migrant Adaptations, Charlotte Mc Ivor and Matthew Spangler (eds); Fernando, N. (Forthcoming 2018) Speaking through The Body: Silence, Song, Orature, Recovery, Refusal in Silence, Voice and Agency, Jane Parpart and Swati Parashar (eds), Rowman and Littlefield, Oxford University Press.

Dr Michele Lobo, Deakin University

The force of institutional racism and the Undercommons: Insights from societies with white majority cultures


This paper explores the subtleties of institutional racism that persist in the here and now of everyday life as a force that is palpable, relentless, exhausting, dehumanising and shattering in white majority societies. In the last 50 years this force that runs through institutions representative of government, the private sector, the academy and the media have resulted in everyday violence that has been explored by making the power and privilege of whiteness visible. But these explorations that show the coexistence of sovereign power, disciplinary power and biopower focus on negative critique and have been limited in tackling institutional practices that affect the guts, tissues, muscles and the mind of affected bodies. Today, when planetary capitalism is imbricated with colonial histories that persist in the present through the planetarizing force of race, Muslims, ‘Blacks’, Indigenous peoples, ethnic minority migrants, refugees and asylum seekers continue to be shadowy figures that are overlooked, excluded and expulsed. Rather than respond with a ‘cry for war’, neutralise or erase difference, this paper inserts some positive energy into public debate through a focus on minor movements in the undercommons. Informed by ethnographic research in Detroit, Paris, Melbourne and Darwin, it invokes an activist philosophy of embodied resistance and struggle.


Michele Lobo has gained national and international recognition for research and scholarship in the field of race, whiteness, affect, encounter and co-belonging in white majority societies. She serves as the editor of Social & Cultural Geography and Book Reviews Editor, Postcolonial Studies Journal. She was nominated for the Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research (Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, 2015). Over the last three years Michele held a prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (ARC DECRA) that explored Indigenous-ethnic minority encounters and shared belonging in Darwin. During this time, she also held a large Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grant that explored Everyday Islam and political engagement in Melbourne, Detroit and Paris.

Dr Vanessa Scholes, Open Polytechnic/Kuratini Tuwhera

Institutional racism though risk-based discrimination in hiring


This paper explores the significance of statistical discrimination to institutional racism as it relates to employment. Statistical discrimination in hiring involves applying risk statistics to identify and remove job applicants with a higher probability of being lower productivity employees. There are incentives for organisations to exclude minority job applicants through applying rational stereotypes on group risk. Risk-based statistical discrimination need not involve any personal racial hostility on the part of the institutional decision-makers, but can result in worse outcomes for disadvantaged racial minorities. This paper draws on empirical research on stereotyping and discrimination from economics, sociology and psychology to show the force of stereotyping in discrimination, and the impact of statistical discrimination on applicants from a racial minority. The paper discusses the ‘Ban the box’ policy in the United States. This mandated that employers remove a tick box on criminal conviction from their initial application forms, aiming to reduce discrimination against ex-offenders, and to improve employment opportunities for minority applicants in particular. The unexpected outcomes of this initiative fit with the understandings of statistical discrimination and stereotyping argued in this paper. I draw on this understanding to suggest policy improvements.


Dr Vanessa Scholes is Senior Lecturer in the School of Business and Enterprise, Open Polytechnic / Kuratini Tuwhera. Her main research area is applied ethics, with a focus on discrimination in particular. Her recent research centres on the ethics of judging individuals based on group risk statistics, known as statistical discrimination. She has published on statistical discrimination as regards tertiary students applying to study at higher education institutions, and applicants for jobs. Vanessa also has a professional interest in adult education, especially online teaching and critical thinking. She teaches online courses in Business ethics, Personal and Organisational Learning, and modules in Culture and Ethics, and Business and society.

Ms Liana MacDonald, PhD candidate, Victoria University of Wellington

Institutional silencing and racism in the New Zealand education system


The paper focusses on the theoretical underpinnings of a study based on the lived experiences and perceptions of Māori English teachers as they approach the teaching of New Zealand literature in secondary school classrooms. Interviews with nineteen teachers and observations of four teachers' classroom practices (with subsequent interviews from the teachers and their students) reveals how racial silencing is a hidden, everyday process that is facilitated through educational policies, curriculum and pedagogy. Drawing on work by Charles Mills and Sara Ahmed, I argue that an educational Settler Contract maintains cultural and historical amnesia and epistemological ignorance regarding New Zealand’s turbulent colonial past to ensure the ongoing dominance of Settler/Pākehā (the name given to non-Māori of European origin) culture. The research concurs with Ahmed (2012) who argues that racism may be recognised as “an ongoing series of actions that shape institutions, in the sense of the norms that get reproduced or posited over time” (p. 45). Consequently, the paper concludes that the teachers’ practices and beliefs are symptomatic of structures that sustain institutional racism in the New Zealand education system.


Liana is a PhD candidate in the closing stages of a doctorate that investigates the lived experiences of Maori English teachers as they approach the teaching of New Zealand literature in secondary school classrooms.  Prior to study, Liana taught secondary school English for ten years across three diverse schooling contexts.  She is indigenous Māori of Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne and Ngāti Koata descent.

Dr Bryan Mukandi, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, The University of Queensland

Beyond Institutional Racism: a philosophical micropathology


I will argue that what Charles Hamilton and Kwame Ture termed ‘institutional racism’ was the outward manifestation of a more insidious set of processes and phenomena. Nelson Maldonando-Torres’ description of coloniality as something that we inescapably take in with every breath is instructive. It suggests an endemic, while allowing for differences in the outward manifestation of the disease that is coloniality. One such manifestation is the expression of various forms of racism. Drawing on the work of Maldonado-Torres, in conversation with that of Jacques Derrida and Alexis Wright, I turn to the manner in which coloniality colours our ability to think about racism. I think about coloniality’s racist manifestations at the level of thought - at the level of cognition, imagination and creative expression. I consider the question of what it means to address the question of institutional racism where coloniality is endemic, and ask where and what tools institutions such as the academy provide for unmasking and addressing not only racism, but its underlying pathology. Acknowledging that mine is a circular set of arguments, I conclude by arguing for and prescribing the movement of circularity or iteration as a means of addressing coloniality and the racism that afflicts us.


Bryan received his medical degree from the University of Zimbabwe, and then interned at the United Bulawayo Hospitals. He subsequently obtained a Master of Arts in Public Advocacy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a Master of Arts in Political Philosophy at Queens University of Belfast. He has worked in Indigenous and Global Health Policy and Systems Research, and is concluding a PhD that concentrated on twentieth century French philosophy, in which he examines the process by which racialised peoples make sense of their subjectivity in racist contexts. It is titled Dancing on the Tightrope of Existence: A Deconstruction of Black Consciousness.

Dr Talia Morag, Deakin University

"On the Implicitness of Implicit Bias"


This paper is concerned with a specific kind of institutional bias, evident, for example, in the hiring practices of institutions with various affirmative action policies in place to ensure equality. This institutional bias is caused by those individuals who determine who gets hired or promoted etc., and who suffer from “implicit biases.” These are racist and other prejudices that people exhibit despite reflectively endorsed non-racist and other non-prejudicial values. The term “implicit” is meant to capture the unawareness or the unavailability to introspection of such biases (Greenwald & Benaji, 1995). And yet it is not entirely clear what is meant by this unavailability. This paper assumes, as in the position laid out by the influential work of Tamar Gendler (2008, 2011), that biases in general, whether explicit or implicit, are caused in the same manner, and that the causal mechanism in question is neither merely physiological nor rational, and is paradigmatically affective. If this is the case then whatever mental states or processes cause biases, they are at least in principle available to introspection, only that they are “not readily available to introspection” (Kelly & Roedder, 2008). Somehow, as Dovidio and Gaertner put it, these prejudices have been “driven underground” (1986).  What is the nature of this “driving” and then “staying” in this “underground” of our minds? Clarifying what unawareness amounts to in the case of implicit bias is particularly important for understanding the responsibility that people and the institutions they work for have for their biased hiring and promoting practices. Taking recourse to the insights of psychoanalysis (Freud, Steiner 1999) as well as to the philosophy of self-deception (Sartre 1956, Kent Bach 1981), I shall claim that the implicitness in question is best understood as emotionally motivated habits of inattention, strengthened and reinforced by moral judgment against biased behavior.


Dr Talia Morag is postdoctoral fellow at Deakin University with a project on implicit bias.  She works on philosophical psychology, especially the philosophy of emotions, ethics, and the philosophical foundations of psychoanalysis, as well as philosophy of television. Recently her book Emotion, Imagination, and the Limits of Reason was published by Routledge (2016). She is the founding director of Psyche + Society, which organizes public conversations about social issues from a philosophical perspective enriched by psychoanalytic insights (www.psycheandsociety.com)

Dr Rachel Sharples and Katie Blair, Challenging Racism Project, Western Sydney University

Claims of white racism and associated discourses of privilege

This paper explores the attitudinal responses of those who make claims of ‘white racism’ in order to understand their perceived threat to a white national identity and the role that white privilege plays in this dynamic. Data is drawn from a recent survey to measure the extent and variation of racist attitudes and experiences in Australia. The survey found that a large percentage of respondents who made claims to white racism also denied that white privilege exists in Australia. While those same respondents stated that racial prejudice existed in Australia, only a small percentage admitted they were prejudiced. In addition, the data shows these claims are associated with four themes that suggest those who claim white racism are co-opting the rhetoric and imagery of conventional understandings of racism and discrimination. These themes are: 1) Claims of reverse discrimination, a reverse rhetoric of the positive discrimination debates; 2) Erosion of white national identity, commonly expressed as inherently Australian values being undermined or denied; 3) Denial that racism exists through a range of mechanisms such as spatial deflection, minimising through humour, and quibbling over technicalities; and 4) Ownership over space, incorporating debates around inclusion/exclusion and belonging. These discourses around white racism reflect key mechanisms of institutional racism.

Biography: Dr Rachel Sharples

Dr Rachel Sharples is a researcher in the Challenging Racism Project (CRP) in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University. Her doctoral thesis examed the nature of the Thai-Burma borderlands, and the construction and projection of a Karen ethnic and cultural identity. Rachel's research interests include refugee and migrant community dynamics, the constructs of ethnic and cultural identity, spaces of solidarity and resistance, racism and anti-racism, bystander anti-racism, Islamophobia, Muslim community attitudes towards policing, and racism in digital platforms such as social media and the sharing economy services.

Biography: Kathleen Blair

Kathleen Blair is a PhD candidate at the Western Sydney University and Research Assistant on the Challenging Racism Project. Her doctoral work explores marginal vote seeking strategies and the use of anti-asylum seeker sentiment in federal election campaigns. Her research interests include racism and anti-racism, refugees and asylum seekers, political discourse and discourse analysis.

Mr Rene Baston, Heinrich-Heine University

Discrimination at the Micro and Macro Level and prejudice reduction strategies


Haslanger (2015) claims it is not enough to change the individuals’ prejudices in order to change social structures, which are the cause of systematic disadvantages for social groups. The aim of this paper is to show that Haslanger’s argument has to be handled very carefully in order to avoid a similar fallacy. Therefore, I will firstly shed some light on the relation of prejudice and discrimination in psychology and describe Haslanger’s critique of the standard narratives. Next, I will analyse a logical fallacy that some psychologists and philosophers made, that is shown by Haslanger’s critique: reducing prejudices of individuals (Micro-Level) does not guarantee an overall improvement for a social group (Macro-Level). Prejudices (negative affect towards a social group) may change and negative attitudes towards social change (conservatism), can ensure that systematical disadvantages remain. Afterwards, I will show that Haslanger’s argument has to be carefully spelled out in order to avoid a similar fallacy. Prejudices reduction strategies, like the procedure suggested by the contact-hypothesis, show more results than prejudice reduction alone: more empathy is triggered and cooperative behavior is promoted (Hodson et al., 2013). Taken together all effects a procedure has, Haslanger’s argument can fall short if the procedure for prejudice reduction is not considered in detail.


René Baston received his Bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Krefeld, and studied philosophy at the Heinrich-Heine University afterwards. He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy at the Heinrich-Heine University. Currently, he is a PhD student and works as a research assistant. His PhD thesis is primarily concerned with the nature of implicit prejudices and, therefore, implicit attitudes. He is working in the areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive sciences.

Dr Dominique Allen, Monash University

'Naming, Blaming and Claiming' - Can the Law Address Institutional Racism?


Australian law has prohibited racial discrimination since 1975 using a model that relies on the individual who has experienced racial discrimination to name the conduct, assign blame for the behaviour, and lodge a legal claim. While this model may address the individual's experience, particularly if they have experienced blatant discrimination, it cannot address subtle or institutional forms of racial discrimination. Yet the law has not been substantially updated in the last four decades, even though comparable countries have introduced proactive measures to tackle entrenched discrimination.
In this paper I consider the weaknesses of race discrimination laws which have left them unable to tackle institutional or systemic racial discrimination. Victoria's anti-discrimination legislation contains some measures which are designed to promote substantive equality and address racial discrimination proactively.  The paper will present preliminary analysis of interviews conducted with legal practitioners in Victoria about the effectiveness of those measures. As anti-discrimination laws are one of the few forms of human rights protections in Australia, it is essential that they are effective. In conclusion, this paper will suggest ways of improving those laws and consider what role the law could play in tackling institutional racism.


Dr Dominique Allen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation at Monash University. She has published widely in Australia and internationally on anti-discrimination law, equality, dispute resolution, and human rights. With Neil Rees and Simon Rice, she is the author of Australian Anti-Discrimination Law (Federation Press, 2014). She sits on the Advisory Board of the Anti-Discrimination Law Review and is a member of the Berkeley Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group.

Counsellor Rick Emory McGary Jr, PhD Scholar, ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies

Indirect discrimination and disparate impact as an analytical framework for assessing Australian criminal law and policy


Indirect discrimination is a familiar legal concept to those familiar with Australian employment law. Every Australian employer, including governments, can have employment policies and practices challenged in court for indirectly discriminating against Indigenous persons. Importantly, the definitive attribute of the legal doctrine disparate impact is using analytics (usually statistics) in lieu of intent. Despite the usefulness of indirect discrimination as a legal tool in regulating discrimination in employment practices, the concept of indirect discrimination is not an acceptable legal challenge to criminal law and policy in Australia. Taking place alongside of multiple State and Commonwealth inquiries into Indigenous hyperincarceration, this paper posits using ‘the 80% rule’ to test for indirect discrimination in the criminal law, before applying that test to criminal legislation in Australia using publicly available data. Through applying the 80% rule, this paper establishes indirect racial discrimination contained in ostensibly race-neutral legislation is a prominent, growing feature of Australian criminal justice. The paper then closes by suggesting an indirect discrimination test be incorporated into the Commonwealth’s racial equality statutes requiring future changes to the criminal law actually not discriminate, as opposed to simply using race- neutral verbiage.


Rick is a comparative sociolegal scholar with experience in The USA, Latin America, Scandinavia, and now Australia. He obtain a Bachelors with honours from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University. His other studies include the Summer Law Institute at Universidad de Guanajuato, and a year in residence at the University of Copenhagen's centre for excellence in international law. His past presentations and papers are on issues of Latin American Immigration to the US, Sexual Assault legislation, Indigenous rights in Fennoscandia, and Statistical methods in comparative sociolegal research. He is currently obtaining a PhD in law at the ANU's National Centre for Indigenous Studies on the topic of Racism in the Criminal Law of Australia studying under Professor Mick Dodson.
Rick has a long personal and family history of fighting institutional racism in the courtroom. He is himself a mixed race Texan with significant Cherokee Indian ancestry, a former researcher for the Innocence Project of Texas, the son of an international womens' rights lawyer, and the grandson of the attorney who desegregated Texas public schools. Currently living in Canberra, Rick is incredibly grateful for the opportunities he is receiving in Australia, and hopes to help make a difference here as well.

Dr Usha Rodrigues, Professor Yin Paradies, Deakin University

Multiculturalism and media: A news content analysis


The Australian media market has fragmented with audiences accessing news from a variety of sources on a variety of platforms. Australians now get their news on multiple traditional news media platforms and through their social media networks. In this fragmented media market, we examine the Australian media’s coverage of multicultural events and issues, which affect social cohesion and potentially contribute to radicalized attitudes. The paper will outline outcomes of the two content analyses of news and information available on traditional media’s websites and social media platforms during significant breaking news events in a six-month period in 2016-2017. We point out that Australian news media is missing the mark in terms of their potential audiences when covering multicultural and transnational news events and issues, considering that 46% of the Australian population has social, familial and cultural ties overseas. We argue that the current pattern of news coverage of transnational events and issues encourages and entrenches racism in Australia.


Dr Usha M. Rodrigues is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Deakin University. Her current research focuses on contemporary journalism practices including social and mobile media.

Prof Yin Paradies conducts interdisciplinary research on the health, social and economic effects of racism as well as anti-racism theory, policy and practice.

Prof Judith Dwyer, School of Medicine, Flinders University and Emeritus Professor Eileen Willis Flinders University

Racism anxiety: A threshold barrier in health care


Institutional racism is encoded within institutional culture, policies and practices, but is usually enacted by individuals. Our research with clinical staff in hospitals indicated a profound reluctance to openly acknowledge the discriminatory effects of “business as usual” processes of care on Aboriginal patients from rural and remote areas. We use the term “racism anxiety” to describe one source of this reluctance “ the fear of making a mistake, causing offence, or demonstrating ignorance of the “other”. Aboriginal patients described the substantive negative effects on them arising from avoidance and poor communication that compromised the caring relationship essential to health care delivery. Staff who did attempt to articulate, learn from and address predictable problems of access and quality of care for this group of patients expressed frustration with the great difficulty they experienced.

We suggest that the concept of racism anxiety may be helpful in identifying and disarming this kind of internalised (and mutually reinforcing) immobilisation. If so, open discussion among health care teams may be more possible, and more non-Aboriginal health care staff may be able to cross this threshold of discomfort and (in) competence. Teachers and students of the health professions may also find it helpful as an enabler of cultural safety in classrooms, and better learning.


Judith Dwyer is Director of Research in the Department of Health Care Management at Flinders University, and a former CEO of Southern Health Care Network in Melbourne, and of Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, having worked in the Australian health system for more than 20 years.  She was for several years a Research Program Leader in the CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (the Lowitja Institute). She teaches in the Flinders’ Masters of Health Administration, and conducts research focused on health system governance and design, with a particular focus on Aboriginal health services. Professor Dwyer is Deputy Chair of the board of Cancer Council South Australia, and a director of Cancer Council Australia. She has extensive policy consulting experience, and is an author of the leading text Project Management in Health and Community Services, 2nd edition, published by Allen and Unwin in 2013. Professor Dwyer is the 2014 recipient of the Sidney Sax medal, awarded annually by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association in recognition of life-long contribution to Australia’s health.

Eileen Willis conducts research in Indigenous public health policy particularly access to health care and domestic water. She also has research expertise in the impact of health reform on working time. Research projects have included the impact of Excelcare on nurse's caring time, and enterprise bargaining and working time for health professionals. She was the foundation editor of the international journal, Health Sociology Review, and currently serves on the editorial board. She is also on the foundation editorial board of Leadership and Policy Quarterly.

Other authors: Dr Tamara Mackean, Flinders University School of Medicine Dr Kim O'Donnell, and Dr Janet Kelly, University of Adelaide School of Nursing

Patricia Santa Rosa, PhD Student - School of Nursing, Department of Nursing in Public Health University of Sao Paulo - Brazil

Interpersonal racism perception in Brazilian healthcare facilities: content validity of an instrument in development


To develop an instrument of user’s perceptions about interpersonal racism in Brazilian healthcare facilities. Method: Psychometric study that started from developing 49 items. The expert panel was composed by eight people: three ethnic-racial relations experts, one psychometrist, one linguistic and three target population members. The content validity ratio (CVR) was applied. Items with the CVR>0,75 were maintained in the instrument. The Prevalence Adjusted Bias Adjusted Kappa (PABAK) was applied to assess the inter-rater agreement. Findings: After expert’s panel assessment, remained 24 items (CVR>0,75). The PABAK for this sample was 0,30, (reasonable agreement). These 24 items will be applied in a target population. Subsequently, the analysis will be performed to verify the construct validity. Conclusions: Recognition of the racism is the first step toward equality. The intention in developing this instrument is to provide a reliable tool capable to measure user’s perceptions about interpersonal racism in Brazilian healthcare facilities context. Thus, the users' perceptions on interpersonal racism is understood as a reflex of the structural racism deep-rooted into the Brazilian healthcare facilities.


Patricia Lima Ferreira Santa Rosa is a PhD student at the School of Nursing in University of São Paulo. She holds a Master of Science from the School of Nursing in University of São Paulo.  Patricia is developing an instrument to measure interpersonal racism perpetrated by healthcare professionals in the Brazilian healthcare facilities context. Her research interests include black population health, ethnic-racial relations, racism, psychometric, obstetric nursing, sexual and reproductive health.

Ms Mayio Konidaris, Monash University

Cultural Humility as an Approach to Combat Racism in Mental Health?


The transcultural mental health literature has successfully addressed the theme of institutional racism lead by Fernando and colleagues, promoting the field of ‘critical psychiatry’ (Moodley & Ocampo, 2014). Despite efforts to enhance cultural responsiveness in mental health services for Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, there remain ongoing disparities experienced by them in comparison to their dominant Anglo-Australian counterparts.  Such disparities are representative of the perpetuating access and equity issues in mental health services, including the absence of CALD samples in Australian mental health research (Minas et al., 2013). Sashidharan (2001) discusses ways to improve services in order to enhance access and meet the mental health needs of minority populations is in itself a distraction from underlying issues of racism.  Such themes may manifest in the form of racial bias, color blindness and negative cultural stereotypes in direct service provision, impacting on mental health outcomes.  Fernando (2014) highlights the historical roots of psychiatry is influenced and shaped by institutional racism influencing processes, such as mental health and risk assessments.  Ferdinand, Paradies, and Kelaher (2015) emphasise the heightened vulnerability amongst those experiencing racism in service systems suggesting higher levels of psychological distress for them. Therefore, in order to promote success and alleviate failure in addressing forms of institutional racism, a training approach embedded in principles of cultural humility with mental health providers has been developed, working towards prevention rather than a reactive response in service provision with such vulnerable populations.  


Mayio Konidaris is an experienced mental health social worker and family therapist with over 25 years in the field, currently undertaking PhD research and working part-time in Child and Youth Mental Health. Mayio has worked extensively with individuals and families from Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds living with mental illness and the commonly recognised challenges around dealing with layers of complexity related to stigma, differing explanatory models, language and barriers of mistrust for them. She is particularly interested in enhancing the experience of health service provision for minority populations by attending to the less recognised issues around racial bias and negative cultural stereotypes that rely on greater critical self-reflection and space for dialogue, and related training in this field. Mayio aims that her research in this area, promoting principles of cultural humility in service provision will further assist to enhance a greater awareness and shift in attitudes and practice, ultimately leading to better mental health outcomes for minority communities.
Dr Melissa Petrakis has worked in mental health services for over 20 years, the first decade as a clinician and the second as a practice-based researcher (PBR), engaged in health services research on the implementation of evidence-based practice (EBP).  She is the author of over 40 publications and has delivered more than 70 national and international conference presentations. For the last 9 years she has been Chief Investigator of a longitudinal cohort study into evidence-based public mental health early psychosis treatment with St Vincent's Hospital (Melbourne).

Ms Karen Connelly, University of Technology Sydney and Deakin University

Challenging institutional racism online – the use of social media for developing and proliferating counter narratives that challenge racism and build community resilience


In a similar way to other institutions, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have imbedded in their policies and operations, cultural narratives that reflect the values of their creators as representative of the majority white privileged cultural group in the US.  For example there is a strong emphasis on freedom of speech and neutrality as overarching cultural values in the Twitter policy. While there is also some mention of privacy and online safety, the focus is on “sharing information without barriers”. This lack of barriers, while encouraging free speech also enables narratives of cultural exclusion and contributes to the spread of racism.  However, minority groups are discovering that social media institutions can also be utilised to develop and proliferate alternative narratives. Social media gives a voice to narratives that challenge the basis of racism and put forward counter versions of events and views. This paper explores two Australian case studies that have successfully used Facebook and Twitter to build communities that are developing and proliferating counter narratives. It will be argued that the empowerment of these communities through these counter narratives contributes to their resilience.


Karen Connelly is a PhD candidate at the University of Technology Sydney whose research is part of the Cyber-Racism and Community Resilience Project (also partly funded by Deakin University). As an Anthropologist Karen focuses on cultural exclusion narratives and counter narratives on Facebook and Twitter.

Brandi Fox, Deakin University

Community youth sport as the (not-so) "great equaliser" A study of kids' participation in Australian Rules football and soccer clubs in one Australian community.


This paper focuses on how racism and inequality are embedded in youth community sports. It draws on narrative data from school principals and students (aged 9-12) collected over three years from two schools in the same multicultural community in Melbourne, Australia. The paper examines how participation in organised sports within the local primary school differs from participation in sports outside of school in the community. It highlights how institutional racism in organised community sport might uphold the segregation of various ethnic, racial, religious and socioeconomic groups. For example, in this particular community, the kids who plays Australian Rules football outside of school are mostly from white European Australian backgrounds, whereas the kids who play soccer are mostly from black African Australian backgrounds. The paper concludes by offering how national discourse about sport bringing people from diverse backgrounds together and the lived reality of sports upholding racial inequality need to be further examined in youth sports. It also recommends how educational programs are combating institutional racism in sport in schools and how community sports organisations might learn from these programs.


Brandi is a post-submission PhD Candidate at Deakin University. Her research interest align with her PhD study which includes the investigation of how Australian school students' subjectivities are shaped through intercultural experiences in everyday spaces of childhood including the local neighbourhood, organised sport clubs, online spaces and tourist spaces overseas.

Ms Melinda Herron, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne and Talia Avrahamzon, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University

Celebrating reconciliation or racism in celebration?: Institutional racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures in primary and secondary schools


In 2013, a 13-year-old girl called an Aboriginal football player, Adam Goodes, an “ape” at the ‘reconciliation’ round of the AFL. Ensuing media coverage and leading public figures called for schools to play a major role in tackling issues of racism in Australia.  The cross-curriculum priority of the national curriculum, as well as teacher standards have required schools to engage with reconciliation, recognition and respect of Indigenous Australians for almost 10 years.  Such a priority would presumably see a strong link to anti-racism, intercultural understanding and decolonising approaches being undertaken in Australian schools well prior to 2013.  In this paper, however, we suggest that some forms of proactive reconciliation in Australian schools may be reinforcing and embedding stereotypical representations of Aboriginality with racist implications. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Australian primary and secondary schools, we focus on the ways institutional racism is embedded in school cultures, school events and school resources by well-intentioned teachers, possibly preventing the realisation of reconciliation.  Through young people’s perspectives, we also observe that despite ‘positive’ school engagements with Indigenous peoples and their cultures, students frequently positioned Indigenous Australians as exotic Others of the past, defined by their ‘authenticity’.   Furthermore, the very notion of ‘celebrating’ reconciliation may imply to young people (and adults) that it has already been achieved and that ‘we are all equal’.  Through identifying these forms of ‘racism in celebration’, this paper aims to draw out rich ethnographic discussion about avenues to more effectively work towards reconciliation and anti-racism in Australian schools.


Melinda Herron is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Her research explores how young people configure racism and conviviality in a working-class, culturally diverse high school. Before joining the University of Melbourne, Melinda specialised in intercultural communication, conducting research, curriculum development and teaching in Australia and overseas. She has also worked on the Close The Gap Day Campaign with a focus on school engagement.

Talia Avrahamzon is a doctoral student at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University.  Her research explores how primary school children receive and interpret messages about Indigenous Australians, their cultures, Australian history and reconciliation.  Prior to starting her PhD she worked for the Australian Government in various social policy and community development roles working with children, families and communities, including urban, regional and remote Indigenous communities.

Dr Brigid Trenerry, Western Sydney University

Productive disruptions: Responding to racism and diversity in the workplace through anti-racism practice within local government in Australia


Racism has particular force when it is systemic or embedded, a phenomenon known as institutional racism. Despite its prevalence, there has been limited theoretical and empirical focus on institutional racism and how to address it through effective anti-racism practice. Moreover, there is emerging evidence that institutional racism is contextual and likely to manifest differently across a range of institutional settings (e.g. workplaces/employment versus justice/policing versus public health etc.). Employing methods of participant-observation, interviews and analysis of surveys with council employees at two local government organisations in Australia, this paper contributes to understanding of the interlinked nature of institutional racism, diversity and anti-racism within workplace and employment contexts. Findings revealed the importance of context, culture, structure and agency in understanding institutional racism and anti-racism practice. Despite its structural and universal drives, institutional racism can be disrupted through the presence of diversity in the workplace and inclusive workplace structures, cultures, policies and practices that support and sustain normative commitments to diversity.


Dr Brigid Trenerry is an Australian researcher who is currently based in Singapore. She has a PhD from Western Sydney University. Her thesis was a study of institutional racism, workplace diversity and anti-racism within the context of local government in Australia.

She has worked as a Research Assistant and Academic at Western Sydney University, Deakin University and the University of Melbourne. She has also worked in various project coordination roles within government, education and community sectors.

She has authored and co-authored reports and publications in peer-reviewed academic journals and currently has 179 citations on Google Scholar.

Dr Libby Effeney, Former PhD student at ADI

Arumugam: The trials and tribulations of anti-racism


It's the early 1980s in Australia. Society and its leadership are on a progressive upswing. Immigration is on the rise and neighborhoods are daily welcoming new people, of all colours and creeds. It is a time for doing away with antiquated laws and legislating protections for new migrants and Aboriginal Australians.

It is during this period of major legislative change that Dr Arumugam Alagappa Arumugam hits the newspaper headlines. A young, talented psychiatrist, newly migrated from India and working at some of the largest psychiatric institutions in Victoria, is suing the state's Health Department for racial discrimination. He is the first to bring such a complaint under Victoria’s newly expanded equal opportunity laws, which now include protections for race-based claims.

His case and subsequent court battles are to play a key role in highlighting the "problem of proof" in cases of systemic racism, and in reforming Victoria's equal opportunity legislation.

Not usually a man to air his grievances, Arumugam’s story is one of dignity and strength, a display of political and social agency that moves people to action, an example of both the power and the limitations of individuals to inspire social change and expand justice. To appreciate his trials and tribulations is a first step toward understanding the significant and ongoing challenges for anti-racism in Australian society.


Dr Libby Effeney is a writer, researcher and former PhD student at the ADI. Her PhD thesis (2016) traced the asylum journeys and settlement experiences of Iraqis who arrived to Australia after the Iraq war in 2003. It explored their social and political attitudes and behaviours, in order to reflect on their inclusion, disaffection and alienation in Australia's democracy.

Prior to starting her PhD, Libby lived, worked and studied for six years in Turkey, where she completed a Masters in Middle East Studies at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, including a thesis in political anthropology entitled "The Kurdish Question in Turkey from the perspective of Kurdish University Students."

Libby is interested in bringing out the human stories that are often lost in the blustery politics of migration and race. She also enjoys studying languages and history of all and any sort.
She currently works as Principal Researcher for author Peter FitzSimons, as well as working on her own projects.

Mrs Antoinette Pavithra Joseph, Macquarie University

Back to the Future: Engaging with Australia's Aboriginal Past, Present and Future through Tourism


The framing of Australian history and identity in the light of the settlement-invasion narrative is, even at present, in a state of constant reconfiguration. This is especially true in spaces that are elevated as cultural or historical heritage sites, where the undercurrent of the contested nature of heritage is ever-present. Have the dynamics of dispossession, assimilation, protection, integration and appropriation given way to self-determination for Aboriginal Australians at these sites, in reality? Using tourism as a gateway to explore this question, I have attempted to glimpse and discuss the politics that impedes self-management for Aboriginal communities, at these sites, and possibly beyond. My findings were arrived at by being a participant observer across three sites in order to glean qualitative data. These sites were the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains, Quandamooka Country (Manly) in Brisbane and Yurra Country (the Rocks) in Sydney. These experiences, over seven periods of observation, were chosen because they allowed for a comparison between different versions of presentation of Indigenous Australian cultural tourism. In addition to visits across these sites, I also reference archival information to fill the gaps that are present, particularly in the economic models at work at these sites.


Antoinette is a research scholar in cultural anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney. She has worked in marketing communications for a decade before making the shift to anthropology. She holds additional qualifications in Psychology and Literature, and hopes to examine how culture coalesces in multiple ways to help humans construct identity and meaning. She is currently pursuing a research project focused on medical anthropology and working as a research assistant within the department of professional medical practice at Macquarie University. She also volunteers at All Together Now as a story teller and qualitative research curator.

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Key information

Date and time

Wednesday 1 November to
Friday 3 November 2017



Deakin Downtown
Tower 2, Level 12
727 Collins Street

Contact details

Chair, conference organising committee
Prof. Yin Paradies
Email Prof. Paradies