Posts for the Ethno Cultural Officers

Ehnic Affairs Report

Hey friends! Your Ethnic Affairs Office Bearers/Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Office Bearers here! We’ve had a busy time at ACAR finalizing our plans for 2015 and we’ve got some fantastic things in the works!

As mentioned, we are currently assisting the USU in developing their new sensitivity training program so we can ensure that the USU is a welcoming and safe space for all People of Colour (PoC) on campus.

Many of us continue to attend the Critical Race Discussion Group (CRDG). Let us take this moment to clarify that CRDG isn’t owned or run by ACAR, but we love supporting the group and facilitating students seeking to engage in nuanced critiques and understandings of race.

We are also collaborating with the Muslim Wom*ns Collective to support a campaign based around tackling racism and Islamophobia on campus and in wider society.

Lastly, we have Verge Festival coming up in October this year. We will be organizing an autonomous poetry slam event for a non-autonomous audience! If you identify as a PoC, as an individual marignalised by White supremacy or structural oppression, please pen your feels into a poem and prepare to share your heart with us on stage. We’ll be ready with a sign-up sheet and beatnik clicks.

In more serious news, concerned students have approached us about the state of PoC politics at UNSW. As a result, we’re planning the rollout of a PoC awareness campaign, one in which we hope to work together with UNSW students with the aim to create awareness in university communities of understanding the term “People of Colour” and why autonomous representation is valued and important.

The official government definition of CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) is a problematically homogenizing acronym that fails to distinguish the structural hierarchy of oppression and White supremacy of which manifest in the lived experiences of people of colour.

Please remember you can contact us on our facebook page—Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) or find us at our regular weekly meetings on Wednesday 12pm at the Education Studio Room 229.
Lamisse Hamouda, Eden Caceda, Kavya Kalutantiri and Deeba Binaei

The Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) had a fantastic turnout this OWeek

Hello again! Your Ethnic Affairs Officers here! The Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) had a fantastic turnout this OWeek and we were very pleased to work closely with the newly formed Muslim Wom*ns Collective at our stall. We gave out over 150 gift bags with pamphlets and other information about fighting racism on campus, online resources and our inaugural zine with contributions from students of colour. We hope these materials will continue to inform students about our collective and our aims in providing a racist-free and safe university space.

During OWeek we hosted our first two events of the year. The first was a Safe Spaces panel where our speakers, Riki Scanlan, Subeta Vimalarajah and ourselves, Eden and Lamisse discussed what is necessary to create safe spaces so no Person of Colour, wom*n, queer or disabled individual feels threatened, silenced or attacked. We also talked about how safe spaces could be fostered and how all people can contribute to making marginalized people feel welcome in social spaces.

Our second event was an autonomous mixer where new and old members of ACAR could meet and come together as a collective. It was great to see the intersectionality in this years collective, with queer and wom*n of colour becoming more involved with ACAR. This social event is one of many we hope to hold to allow students of colour to mix together and move away from a political sphere of discussion.

ACAR also applauds the many queer and wom*n of colour who were involved with International Women’s Day and celebrated the successful (and rain-free) Mardi Gras. These two events are important because they remind us about the successes of both queer and wom*n of colour as well as highlight the continued struggle they both face in society.

If you missed us at OWeek, never fear! It’s easy to join us during the year. We’re in the midst of choosing a collective meeting time, but until then, we have a fantastic Facebook group where we discuss and organise. Likewise if you want to keep up with our events and campaigns, but maybe don’t identify as a Person of Colour, chuck us a ‘like’ on our ACAR Facebook page:

Have a great week!
Ethnic Affairs Officers

Sydney Uni Refugee Action Collective

2015 began with a renewed crisis for the Liberals’ brutal offshore processing regime, Operation Sovereign Borders. Over 700 asylum seekers went on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment on Manus Island. More than 40 people stitched their lips and there were extreme cases of self-harm and suicide attempts including people swallowing nail clippers, razor blades and washing powder. The government responded with a savage oppression. They denied refugees drinking water and later roused up and imprisoned protest organisers.

The Australian Government’s brutal detention regime continues to take its toll on asylum seekers. The reality of indefinite detention, unsanitary conditions, the threat of deportation and violent treatment has led to constant unrest inside the prison camps.

The Human Rights Commission report on children in detention is just the latest confirmation of the kind of horrors asylum seekers experience in detention, whether they are women, children or men. It’s an unjust system and it has to go.

The Sydney Uni Refugee Action Collective (formerly Anti-Racism Collective) is a collective for students committed to campaigning for the rights of refugees. We stand for a pro-refugee campus and fight to see refugees have their claims processed humanely in the community with guaranteed resettlement in Australia. A just refugee policy can only begin by welcoming the boats.

Refugee rights groups have been springing up across the country to answer this challenge. Students must join the doctors, Christian groups, unions and rural Australians mobilizing against the government’s cruelty. We need to make our campus a bastion of pro-refugee activism and energy that will inspire others to fight back. Together we can win! Under John Howard, it was grassroots activism that shifted public opinion, broke bipartisan support for offshore processing and pushed back the Pacific Solution. It is this sort of vibrant campaign we will need to stop Abbott

Nicole was a worker and eyewitness on Manus Island during the unrest that resulted in the brutal murder of Reza Barati. We’ll be hearing from her, discussing refugee policy in general and most importantly, what we can do as students.

We have a big year ahead of us. The Coalition government is determined to entrench some of the cruelest refugee policy seen in Australia’s history. But refugee supporters around the country are equally determined to fight for a humane refugee policy

The campus refugee rights club meets every Monday 11am on New Law Lawns. All welcome! If you’re keen to get involved, check out our fb page, ‘Sydney Uni Refugee Action Collective’ or contact Gabby on 0416 488 258. Stand up, fight back!

We are honoured to be your Ethnic Affairs Officers this year

Hi there! Our names are Eden, Kavya, Lamisse and Deeba and we are honoured to be your Ethnic Affairs Officers this year as we continue to represent and fight for the equality of those who identify as a person of colour, a person from an ethno-cultural background, an Indigenous person and/or as someone marginalised by white supremacy. We stand for the liberation of these people and believe that it is important that we are represented appropriately.

At the beginning of 2014 the Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) came together to ensure the empowerment and self-determination of ethno-cultural people on campus and outside of campus.

Last year we ran our “I, Too, Am Sydney” campaign to highlight the racism and prejudice faced by many students at our uni. It was a great opportunity to give a voice to those students whose experiences aren’t always heard. We carried on with ACAR Honi Soit, where we took over this rag and curated an amazing edition full of articles, poetry, art and comedy, all created by autonomous students of colour. Some of these works became received massive exposure and others allowed first time creators to dabble in writing new work.

Currently we are working with members of the University community on the upcoming Racism. It Stops With Me campaign that will launch at the end of March, a project we are very excited about. Likewise, this O-Week, we have created our first ever ACAR zine. The new quarterly booklet will continue to provide our members with an creative outlet that we aren’t always given. ACAR would like to thank Whitney Duan for assisting in this editions creation.

We hope to continue the great traditions of last year and are excited to work with the SRC in the capacity of Ethnic Affairs. This collective hopes to operate not only as a space of activism and political organizing, but also as a support space where all racially marginalised people can share their experience. We see racism and its effects as diverse and we are determined to work as a collective to make visible the different ways racism manifests in people’s lives and how we can end it.

Structures of oppression do not work in isolation

Structures of oppression do not work in isolation. Whatever white supremacy touches, it structures. So too, with queerphobia, misogyny and ableism: wherever they exist, they are at work structuring our relationships with each other and with the world. There is no space safe or free from them. This means, that for those of us at the intersections, the communities that are essential to our survival are also capable of causing great pain and doing great harm.

Our anti-racist organising will be nothing, unless we are actively trying to understand and organise against the many ways queerphobia manifests in our communities and our work. Our queer organising is nothing if our queer spaces are almost totally inhospitable to First Nations peoples and people of colour.
Our organising will be nothing if it is not always scrutinising the insidious nature of power.

‘Intersectionality’ is not a buzzword; it was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw as she deconstructed the way Black women experience marginalisation along multiple axes to show the way this affects their physical, and emotional safety and survival. So it is not a buzzword to be used for credit in our activist spaces; it is a framework of liberation that centres Black women, and it has given us a way to conceptualise a liberation that leaves no one behind.
We can start by making our communities safer: what economies of power circulate in our spaces? What norms are structuring how we live with and love each other?

Our goals should ultimately be bigger, but unless the communities we are working within are made safer, we are merely reinscribing oppression into the fabric of our activism.  I want my queer community, anti-racist and decolonial; and I want my anti-racism decolonial and queer.

Gabrielle Pei Tiatia tells you why we should stop Abbott not the boats

Since day one of Abbott’s Prime Ministership, our action as pro-refugee students has never been more urgent. The Liberal Party (LNP) has already spent over 7.2 billion dollars on expanding offshore camps, brutalising refugees and violating international law; meanwhile, they’re cutting 2.3 billion from the public university sector (which translates to 50 million dollars cut from USyd). This is a clear illustration of the LNP’s priorities and a clear reason why we should be fighting back against them.

At the Lowy Institute last week, Morrison announced the introduction of the Australian Border Force to take over customs and the Navy to turn back asylum seekers coming by boat. This is only to serve a rhetoric which shifts policy focus on militarising borders, that further stigmatises refugees and overlooks the reality  of the persecution asylum seekers are fleeing from.

While Morrison and Abbott champion their policies for “stopping the boats” and hide behind a tough facade, they’re actually more vulnerable than ever. The Nauruan Government have come out announcing it will not resettle Australia’s refugees , and now the LNP are frantically trying to negotiate with neighbouring impoverished countries to take up our international obligations.

The Liberals have consistently been feeding the Australian public lies – bolstering vile myths, xenophobia and using racial scapegoating for their own political expediency. Despite how horrific these policies are however, this isn’t a time to despair. The movement under Howard showed that a pro-refugee mandate can be won through building a strong grassroots movement.

Tens of thousands have hit the streets to demand justice for asylum seekers and there is already a strong foundation being built to fight back against Abbott – pro-refugee groups at universities, schools, workplaces, unions, occupations etc. have been established all over the country that are committed to growing the movement.

Students are a vital component of the broader movement outside of parliament. We are always at the forefront of pushing progressive political agendas and we have have the power to dismantle Operation Sovereign Borders and shatter this pillar of systematic racism to shape an equitable future for the most vulnerable. In order to do this, we need to unite collectively to demand a principled and humane approach to refugee processing and resettlement. This can only begin by breaking bipartisan support, shutting down offshore processing centres and ending mandatory detention.
The Anti-Racism Collective (ARC) is committed to strengthening the refugee campaign by educating students and building up their confidence to become activists.
ARC meets every Tuesday, 1pm on New Law Lawns. All welcome!
For more info, check out our facebook page, ‘Anti-Racism Collective Sydney Uni’ or contact Gabby on 0416 488 258
We hope you can join us. Stand up, fight back!

Marijke Hoving let’s us know about the refugee rights campaign

This is a particularly crucial year for the refugee rights campaign. With the return to the dark days of Howard’s Pacific Solution and the looming federal election, we need all the support we can get to fight for humane refugee policies that welcome boats, rather than deter them.

The reintroduction of offshore processing last year has had nothing but detrimental effects on asylum seekers. The detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru are already in crisis, with reports of hunger strikes, lip stitching and suicide attempts, not to mention disease and mental illness. Richard Towle from the UNHCR has recently reported that the asylum seekers on Manus Island are “distressed and confused about their situation. They are closed in detention without a process in sight. They feel they have been forgotten.” Refugee policy has become a race to the right, with both sides of politics disgracefully competing over who can be harsher on refugees. But we can fight this, by building a broad political campaign outside of parliament.

An important event for the Anti-Racism Collective (ARC) and the wider refugee campaign each year is the national convergence, which this year will be held at Northam detention centre over the ANZAC weekend (Thursday 25 April to the Sunday 28 April). Students from ARC, along with refugee rights activists from across the country will converge on the Northam detention centre to draw attention to the injustice of Australia’s refugee policy. The prospect of an Abbott government implementing even harsher policies makes this even more important. The Northam detention centre, two hours outside of Perth, Western Australia, opened in June last year. Close to 600 asylum seekers have been detained there since. Northam is part of a group of detention centres isolated from the big population centres, meaning asylum seekers are kept ‘out of sight, out of mind’. This is an invaluable opportunity for students to collaborate and discuss pressing issues of refugee rights with other activists, and bring newly acquired information back onto campus.

To coincide with the convergence there will also be a protest at the Villawood Detention Centre on Sunday the 28th of April and ARC will be organizing a student contingent to the protest. By joining the protest students can show their opposition to this racist refugee policy and their support for the vulnerable people currently locked up in Villawood.

If you’re interested in joining the pro-refugee movement, or want any more information, ARC holds meetings every Tuesday at 11am on the New Law Lawns.

Ethinic Affairs Report

no report as yet