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Issue #1430      30 September 2009

Malezer warns of ingrained racism

Human Rights Medallist Les Malezer has used the Coroner’s inquest into Mr Ward’s death as an example of what he says is the deeply entrenched institutionalised racism that exists throughout Australia’s bureaucracies.

Mr Malezer, a Gubbi Gubbi/Butchulla (Qld) man and Chair of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA), was in Perth as keynote speaker at a well-attended public forum on institutionalised racism.

The forum was held at the same time as the handing over of the petition to the WA Parliament to mark John Pat Day, the anniversary of the death of the young man in police custody at Roebourne, WA, in 1983. John Pat’s death led to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Mr Malezer said that although some states had introduced race-hate laws, there were no laws in Australia that supported people who faced racism every day.

He said the recent inquest into Mr Ward’s death was an example of how embedded institutionalised racism is in Australian society.

“Even the Coroner’s report didn’t talk about training for people in racism,” he said. “It talked about other forms of procedural training, about how to handle prisoners, but didn’t talk about what is there.

“I mean people recruited in Kalgoorlie are going to have possibly prejudicial issues against the Aboriginal people and treat the Aboriginal people as being less than human, and the Coroner hasn’t even picked up on that sort of thing.

“And, unfortunately, the issue about Aboriginal rights in Australia has become a political football once again and it means that Aboriginal people are not getting a fair hearing.”

The Koori Mail 

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