Australians Against Racism was established by designer Mariana Hardwick and novelist Eva Sallis in October 2001. AAR aims to counter destructive stereotyping of race and culture by actively promoting understanding and debate through the media, arts, education and the law.
AAR was established against a background of increasing hostility in Australia towards people fleeing persecution and seeking the basic human right of asylum. By October 2001 the abuse of people arriving as refugees and those already held in detention centres was entrenched and had bipartisan support in Government. Many Australian people have come to accept and endorse a system that strips refugees and asylum seekers of their rights, including the right to speak out – a system that is maintained through misinformation, secrecy and the exploitation of Australians’ fears.
Extraordinary legislation has come into force for the treatment of people seeking asylum, legislation which is against the spirit and intent of Australia’s international obligations under UNHCR conventions, and ultimately against the spirit of the Australian culture and people.
These shifts in Australian society and law have far-reaching implications for all Australians.
Australian people are fundamentally decent. We believe Australians would not accept what is being done in their name if they knew the full range of facts and stories. We aim to foster this awareness and to promote understanding of what people who are refugee claimants have endured and endure. We aim to bring about change from a grassroots level. We aim to counteract the racial and religious hostility that is changing the nature of contemporary Australia. We aim to help rebuild Australia’s humane and compassionate culture.
Australians Against Racism is not associated with any particular political party or group.
- To run projects that counter destructive stereotyping of race and culture by promoting understanding and debate through the media, arts, education and the law.
- To help change community attitudes that diminish anyone on the basis of race and/or culture and/or religion by promoting understanding and debate through the media, arts, education and the law.
- To rally and unite those who have been and are affronted by current policy, in order to celebrate and foster humanitarian values of compassion and integrity in our society.
- To assist where possible and to collaborate with others to assist individual refugees.
- To help change policy and legislation by encouraging a grassroots movement of outspoken lawful dissent in all sectors of Australian society; and by participating in lobbying politicians and facilitating other groups’ actions.
- To go beyond protest and to take a proactive positive approach to influencing prevailing attitudes. AAR has a particular strength in its contacts with literary, visual arts, theatre, film, graphic, dotcom, food and wine industries, and will use these and connections with all other industries to promote and celebrate multiculturalism and humanitarian values in Australian culture.