By KATE RAFFERTY
50 “#RACISMNOTWELCOME” street signs have been erected across the Inner West, as part of a new campaign by the Inner West Multicultural Network and Addison Road Community Organisation.
Initiated in response to a rise in racist attacks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, #RacismNotWelcome addresses racism in the Inner West.
Independent councillor Pauline Lockie, who brought the motion before the Inner West Council in November 2020, says the aim of the campaign was to take a visible stance against racism and start deeper community conversations.
“We wanted to bring these signs into our community to show that we recognise racism exists and that as a community we are prepared to work together to stamp it out” said Ms. Lockie.
While there’s been positive feedback to the campaign so far, Councillor Lockie says some in the community have questioned it.
“There has been an assumption that because the Inner West is very multicultural and very diverse, that that itself is enough to not need an anti-racism campaign,” she said.
“But that’s not the case at all. The reality is, just because you have diversity, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any presence of discrimination or prejudice in a community.”
Beyond the Inner West
Now, #RacismNotWelcome is gaining traction across NSW. With the Waverley and City of Sydney councils getting on board too.
Councillor Lockie says the campaign was designed to be easily adopted by local councils and can be tailored to suit their own anti-racism approach.
“Because this campaign is so grassroots, it really lends itself to other councils. It’s very easy to roll out, the street signs are inexpensive and it can also tie-in with local programs,” she said.
With so many possibilities and community benefits, there is hope #RacismNotWelcome will be embraced nation-wide.
“I think if 537 LGAs in the country were able to speak out and say “No, we don’t welcome this”, we’d be moving forward, toward a more equal and just society” said CEO of Addison Road Community Centre, Rosanna Barbero.
Also supporting the #RacismNotWelcome campaign is the Inner City Teachers Association, who have decided to write to the City of Sydney Council and encourage them to endorse the campaign.
“In many ways, silence can often condone the behaviour, and I think by seeing these signs around our City, that can help students have the confidence to speak up when racism does arise” said Secretary of the Inner City Teachers Association, John Gauci.
Bridget Poon, Anti-Racism Contact Officer for the Inner City Teachers Association says the street signs also offer a chance to build on discussions in school.
“The signs make the point: “this exists in your community”, and that’s really powerful,” she said.