Qld Rugby League Conference

Commissioner's speech - 16 February 2013

A speech by Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks AM, to the Queensland Rugby League Admin Conference Our People- Our Future held at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, 16 February 2013.

Access the speech using the hypertext links in the Contents list or:



May I pay my respects to the Kubi Kubi people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and acknowledge Elders past, present and the future.

I thank the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) and in particular the organisers of this conference for inviting the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) to address your members, and supporters. It is an opportunity to engage with you about the work of the commission and the challenges we, as a society, face in order to build a more inclusive and fair Queensland.

Rugby league is one of the most popular team sports in Queensland and New South Wales and is played right around Australia. Not that I need to tell this audience that fact. But it is relevant in the context of a number of points that I wish to address today. I believe to sustain the long-term popularity and success of rugby league or for that matter any sport, we must have an ongoing consciousness of how we, as individuals and groups, may consciously or unconsciously discriminate based on race, gender, sexuality, culture, religious belief, socio economic status, impairment et cetera.

Rugby league as an entity, from the elite status to the grassroots, has a critical leadership role in building cohesive, diverse, robust and inclusive communities. As we know it all begins at the grassroots clubs, in country towns, small and big, provincial and major cities. People come together for the love and passion of and for the game. It just isn't about the high-profile footballers, the local stars, it is about all of the necessary things that need to happen behind the scenes to ensure the local club is viable and a successful competition exists. Sporting clubs often will be a reflection of the broader society in which they exist.

Australian rugby league community emerged six years after the Constitution was established in 1901. As we know, the first Nations people were not recognised and thus, excluded from the Constitution until 1967. Until then s 51(xxvi) of the Constitution empowered the Parliament to make laws with respect to:

The people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.

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At that time it was deemed necessary to enable the Commonwealth to "regulate the affairs of the people of coloured or inferior races who are in the Commonwealth". The section was intended to enable the Commonwealth to pass laws restricting migrant labourers such as the Chinese and Kanakas. Effectively It enabled the Parliament to deal with the people of any alien race after they have entered the Commonwealth; to localise them within defined areas, to restrict their migration, to confine them to certain occupations, or to give them special protection and secure their return after a certain period to the country whence they came. [1].

Despite these laws and the obvious prejudices towards the first nation people and people of other races and colour, there is clear evidence that Indigenous players have been associated with rugby league almost since its inception. The first records of an Indigenous player to play the game was George Green, who played for Eastern Suburbs from 1909–11 and North Sydney from 1912–22, except for a year with Newtown in 1917. Green went on to coach North Sydney. The first Aboriginal footballer to tour overseas was Glen Crouch who played 11 games for Queensland in a New Zealand tour in 1925. [2]

In no way am I suggesting that indigenous people didn't face discrimination when engaging within the rugby league community; what I am trying to highlight is that there has been pockets of leadership within the rugby league community to include indigenous peoples as well as people from other races and cultures throughout the history of rugby league in Australia.

Australia as a nation has evolved and changed significantly since colonisation, and white settlement. We are a nation of diverse and multiple cultures and people. This is clearly evident through the variety of our languages, ancestry, birthplaces and religions.

I would like to take a few moments to share some 2011 census data with you. I know, statistics is a dry subject, but these figures paint a clear picture of the extent of the cultural diversity in our State of Queensland:

  • 20.3% of the national total settler arrivals were in Queensland in 2010-2011;
  • 9.8% or 423,838 Queensland speak a language other than English at home;
  • 20.5% Queenslanders were born overseas in more than 220 countries and 40% of those have arrived since 2000;
  • Almost 3 million, (68.8%) Queenslanders followed more than 100 religions;
  • Over 1.5 million Queenslanders were either born overseas or have at least one parent born over overseas.

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With around one third of Queensland's population either born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas, diversity touches every part of our state no matter where we live.

In 2011, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were 2.5% of the Australian population, also speaking a diverse but disappearing range of languages and dialects.

Australia has one of the highest proportions of overseas born residents in the world [3] and one of the most successful multicultural populations in the world I believe. Not that this doesn't provide us with challenges.

It is in this context that I will now discuss:

  • My lived experience with and without impairment;
  • Unconscious bias and the role it plays in maintaining stereotypes and mythologies about race, culture, impairment, sexual orientation/identity etc;
  • The Anti-Racism Strategy;
  • The work of ADCQ and how we can work with rugby league communities to support the ongoing development of tolerance and inclusiveness in the sport;
  • The role that the rugby league community can play in building a fair and inclusive Queensland.

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My story

As some of you may be aware through my bio that rugby league was a very important part of my life growing up as a kid in St George in the 60s and 70s and certainly set me on a very different journey in life than I had envisioned. It wasn't because I was a potential star, far from it. Just to clarify, I was an ordinary footballer. My life direction is due to the acquisition of a spinal injury in a scrum. The accident led to profound changes in my life which led me to my current position as Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

I left school in 1975 and completed year 10 at St George High School, working in labouring and semi-skilled positions such as in the shearing industry as a rouseabout, at the St George Cotton Ginnery as a general hand and as a barman.

I worked for an earthmoving company driving scrapers, which entailed road building and building dams for farmers, and worked for the State Wheat Board as a silo operator. I acquired my impairment in 1981 when I had just turned 21.

I dislocated my neck in a rugby league scrum, resulting in permanent paralysis. I was no longer able to carry out manual labour and needed to take a very different career direction. I went to the QUT Carseldine campus in 1987-89 to study social science; then I completed a master's degree in social welfare and policy at the University of Queensland in 1998.

Yes, disability has impacted on my career in a significantly positive manner, in that the acquisition of my impairment certainly changed my career pathway and my opportunity to meet and build relationships with far many more people than I would have.

Perhaps I would never have gone back to study, but because of my impairment I had no alternative if I wanted to continue to work. So my career direction was influenced by my starting to live life with impairment and systematically having my rights as a citizen eroded.

Before I acquired my impairment I would have described my life as a person who worked hard, contributed to my community through my involvement in sport, and that I had a rightful place in my community – and I was a valued citizen. After my injury I was no longer perceived as, nor felt, a valued citizen.

The identity I had built as a young man of 21 years was eradicated and replaced by a medical diagnosis – I was a C5/C6 quadriplegic who relied on others to be functional, and portrayed as a burden and as an object of pity. This was my new identity. I was no longer a boy from the bush, a citizen with rights; I was a citizen only deserving of conditional rights and they were delivered through the paradigms of charity and pity.

My career path was then destined; I realised that I needed to reclaim my identity as a valued citizen and a rights bearer, and in doing so work with others to dismantle the structural barriers that systematically deny people with disabilities living life with dignity and free from discrimination.

The way that disability is communicated and understood predominantly in our society is as a 'personal tragedy'. In relation to language, 'suffering/sufferer' and 'burden/burdensome' are perhaps the most widely used terms in tragedy discourses to characterise the experience of disability. This belief that disability/impairment is a personal tragedy is so prevalent and so infused throughout media representation, language, cultural beliefs, politics, research, policy and professional practice that it results in the most intrusive, violating and invalidating experiences for people with disability and their families and friends.

The 'personal tragedy' view of disability and impairment allows society to justify and rationalise policies, practices and interventions that emanate from the belief that tragedy is to be avoided, eradicated or 'normalised' by all possible means.

Such are the negative presumptions held about impairment and disability that they often lead to the erroneous idea that people with disability cannot be happy, or enjoy an adequate quality of life, are incompetent and/or dysfunctional. It is perceived that a person with disability has 'problems' that result from their impairment rather than the failure of society to meet that person's needs in terms of appropriate human help, accessibility and inclusion.

Before and after my impairment, I encountered people who I have identified as 'enablers' and 'blockers'. Enablers are those people who share your vision to be simply treated with dignity and live life free from discrimination. People who are enablers will work with you to eliminate all the barriers that you encounter because of structural discrimination based on mythology and stereotypes.

Blockers are those who consciously or unconsciously see their role in life as reinforcing every stereotype and mythology that is out there about people who are perceived as different or undeserving. Thus, upholding systems, that are based on stereotypes and mythologies, which reject and exclude people based on their race, sexuality, religious belief, gender and impairment, etc.

My identity and role in life as a person with disability was constructed by the stereotypes and mythologies widely held about impairment. For many people this meant that I no longer could contribute or participate in society equally as others without impairment.

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Unconscious bias

People use thought processes all the time to make decisions and solve problems. It is important to realise that everyone has a decision-making process and frameworks that is influenced by the information they receive directly or indirectly via a variety of mediums. These frameworks are conscious and unconscious, habitual, or unexamined. Habits of thought have a great deal to do with the way we make decisions as individuals or organisations. Our decision making frameworks are significantly influenced by our personal values, belief systems and commonly held assumptions and stereotypes of society about class, culture, race, gender, sexuality, age and disability etc.

An increasing body of social science literature has empirically demonstrated the existence and prevalence of unconscious bias in today's society. This form of discrimination is specifically tied to the human cognitive process for receiving and storing information. Researchers have demonstrated that individuals tend to process incoming information by relying on cognitive shortcuts—in essence, stereotypes and mythology.

According to the research conscious and unconscious bias has a purpose; it is clearly linked to our survival as human beings. We go out in the world every day and make decisions about what is safe or not, what is appropriate or not, and so on. This automatic decision making iswhat psychologist Joseph LeDoux has suggested is an unconscious "danger detector" that determines whether or not something or someone is safe before we can even begin to consciously make a determination. When the object,animal, or person is assessed to be dangerous, a "fight or flight" fear response occurs.[4]

When we see something or someone that "feels" dangerous, we have already launched into action subconsciously before we have even started "thinking." Our sense of comfort or discomfort has already been engaged.

From a survival standpoint this is not a negative trait. It is a necessary one. We have all heard the axiom, "it is better to be safe than sorry," and to a large degree this is true. For example, if we sense something is coming towards our head we may duck to later discover that it was a shadow of a bird flying overhead. In essence we are all hardwired to survive.

We are generally convinced that our decisions are "rational," but in reality most human decisions are made emotionally, and we then collect or generate the facts to justify them.

You may recall back in the early 2002-3 after 9/11 we were warned to be alert but not alarmed. But my memory of that time was there were many messages being sent by government particularly the 'abandoned bag' in a public place. I don't know about you but every time I saw a bag that was unaccompanied the hairs went up on the back of my neck and I took an alternative path to avoid the bag.

Scientists estimate that we are exposed to as many as 11 million pieces of information at any one time, but our brains can only functionally deal with aboutSo how do we filter out the rest?We do it by developing a perceptual lens that filters out certain things and lets others in, depending upon certain perceptions, interpretations, preferences and biases that we have adapted throughout our life. As a result of these pre-established filters, we see things, hear things, and interpret them differently than other people might. Or we might not even see them at all! [5]

Whether it's myth or reality, however, generalisation lumps everyone together.

From lived experience and the relevant research demonstrates that we can unlock our unconscious bias and change the way we interpret the world.

"When we get conscious about managing diversity, we are "tuning in" to the indicators around us that tell us everyone does not see the world the way we do. While we know that intellectually, when it plays out in a difference of opinion, a different response, or a different way of being, behaving, dressing, talking -- you name it, we forget that everyone is not 'just like me.' It is at that moment we have to wake up, realise we need to manage the diversity that is facing us and begin by thinking, "OK, who is in this mix and what are their perspectives?" [6]

As Martin Luther King said in his now infamous speech I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. [7]

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Anti-Racism Strategy

The Anti-Racism Strategy was announced by the Federal Government in 2011 as part of the new multicultural policy, The People of Australia . The Strategy will be implemented between July 2012 and June 2015.

It was developed by a partnership of agencies:

  • The Australian Human Rights Commission;
  • Attorney-General's Department;
  • Australian Multicultural Council;
  • Department of Immigration and Citizenship;
  • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA);
  • National Congress of Australia's First Peoples; and
  • Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia.

The National Anti-Racism Strategy complements, reinforces and builds on existing laws, initiatives and policies. It is intended to generate sustained momentum towards three goals:

  • more Australians recognise that racism is unacceptable in our community;
  • more Australians become involved in practical action against racism, wherever it happens;
  • individuals and communities are empowered to respond effectively to racism through access to information and resources, legal protections and, where necessary, mechanisms for redress.

"One powerful method by which the Partnership and Strategy achieves this end is through its campaign – Racism. It Stops With Me.

Racism. It stops with me is about making Australia a racism free zone and articulating what role each of us have in achieving this.  So it requires all of us to play a part – by not perpetrating racist actions ourselves, by not passively standing by while others perpetrate such actions and by committing ourselves to the notion that the 'fair go' is for everyone in our society. 

Through its campaign website and support from over 100 organisations including business, sporting organisations and peak bodies, as well as over 300 individual Ambassadors, the Australian Human Rights Commission has facilitated an anti-racism movement to encourage others to name racism when they see it and speak out against it.

Sporting organisations have come out as strong leaders in naming racism and understanding it as a barrier to equality and social cohesion. 

A number of sporting heroes have become champions for the campaign, including Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting as well as a number of AFL and Netball players.The ADCQ has joined with the Australian Human Rights Commission and is actively promoting and working with organisations and business to take an active role in implementing the campaign. Later in this paper I talk about how the NRL and QRL have been providing leadership when it comes to a zero tolerance approach to racism and discrimination. I will now talk about the work of the ADCQ.

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The work of ADCQ

The ADCQ is committed to strengthening the understanding, promotion and protection of human rights in Queensland.  It does its work through training and education, research and submissions and a broad range of community engagement activities to involve and inspire the community to create spaces where human rights can flourish.  Complaints under the act can be made to the ADCQ and if not resolved referred to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for determination.  

What is discrimination?

Discrimination happens when you are treated worse than someone else because of your: race, age, family responsibilities, parental status, relationship status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, impairment (a disability), religious belief or activity, sex (male/female), gender identity, sexuality, lawful sexual activity (as a sex worker), trade union activity, political belief or activity, or association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of these attributes.

There are two types of discrimination:

Direct Discrimination

Unfair treatment, in an area of activity, because of something that is irrelevant (such as sex, race or age etc).

Direct discrimination example:

A refusal by a mining enterprise to consider employing a relevantly skilled and qualified female job seeker in a particular position, because the employer believes that there is no place for a woman in a mine.

Indirect Discrimination

An unreasonable rule, practice or term which disadvantages a particular group of people more than others.

Indirect discrimination example:

An employer has a requirement that all staff must commence work at 6am sharp. Unless there is a good reason for the early commencement time for all staff, this 6 am starting time requirement may be an instance of indirect family responsibility discrimination.

Discrimination is covered in the following Areas of Activity: employment; goods and services; education; accommodation; superannuation and insurance; disposal of land; club membership and affairs; local government; administration of State laws and programs.

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What does the Anti-Discrimination Act say about sport?

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 does not deal with sport as a specific area of public life. However, many sport related situations are covered by the Act. If you are involved in sport consider whether you are:

  • Ÿ working (whether paid or as a volunteer) such as coaching, umpiring or refereeing
  • receiving goods or services from a club which is run for profit
  • playing sport as part of your education
  • seeking a rental premise or accommodation
  • seeking membership of a club which is run for a profit

Under the ADA a sporting organisation may also be held vicariously liable if any of a person's workers or agents representing the organisation (such as coaches, board members, manages, officials, et cetera.) Act unlawfully in the course of their duties. There is a defence if the sporting organisation can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful act, (e.g. establishing codes of conduct, policies and procedures, and providing education and training to their members) to avoid liability.

Discrimination examples

Race discrimination in education

A Torres Strait Islander girl is never picked for the school netball team although she is clearly one of the best players because the teacher doesn't know how the white players would get on with her.

Sexuality discrimination in the provision of goods and services

A gay man and his partner go to a large leagues club for a beer and to play the pokies. The bar attendant refused to serve them and said that they didn't want poofters and deviants in their club.

Impairment discrimination in work

A father has volunteered to coach a junior football team. He wears very thick glasses. On training nights he is continually subjected to abuse, ridicule and insults by the Director of Junior Coaching employed by the club who says things like Piss off four eyes and let an able bodied parent take over. 'Are you sure you can see to the end of the field?' Ultimately, he resigns from the position of coach, due the constant belittlement by the D.O.C.

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Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that offends or humiliates the person concerned. It includes:

  • Ÿ unsolicited acts of physical intimacy; unsolicited demands or requests for sexual favours; remarks with sexual connotations relating to the person; any other conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the other person.
  • ŸBoth men and women can sexually harass and be harassed. It has nothing to do with mutual attraction and friendship between people.

Sexual harassment examples

  • ŸThe mother of an AFL player works in the club canteen, selling drinks and chips. The club president constantly makes unwelcome sexual comments to her, asks for sex and rubs himself up against her body. 
  • ŸThe male coach of a teenage girls' hockey team says that he is interested in the girls and their welfare and wants to be supportive. Lately he's been asking some girls about their private life - Questions such as: 'Have they got a boyfriend? Do you have sex? Are you on the pill?' The girls are very uncomfortable with this and just want to play hockey.

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The Act allows exemptions in some situations which could otherwise be discrimination.  They include

  • special services or facilities;
  • genuine occupational requirement (employment);
  • welfare measures (general);
  • workplace health and safety (general);
  • junior wages (employment)

Note: The Respondent must prove an exemption applies.

Exemption Examples that apply to sport

Female or male only sporting competitions

A competitive sporting activity may be restricted to either males or females, if that is reasonable because of the strength, stamina or physique needed for the sport.

Example: A rugby league club could refuse to let a female play in the senior men's competition.

Separate facilities in clubs

A club may have separate facilities or benefits for men only or women only, if it is not practical for males and females to enjoy the facilities or benefits at the same time and access to an equivalent benefit is available.

Example: A swimming club can have a class for women only, where there is another similar class at the club that men can attend.

Unjustifiable hardship

A sporting club, business or educational body may not have to provide special services or facilities for a person with impairment, if they can demonstrate that to do so would impose unjustifiable hardship on them.

Example: A small independent primary school has a 25 metre swimming pool. A student who uses a wheelchair wants to be part of swimming classes. The school says that to construct the proper access to allow the student to safely get in and out of the pool is beyond its financial capacity.

Women only Fitness Centres

Certain commercial fitness centres have obtained exemptions from the Act to cater for women only. Because many women are not comfortable or culturally safe attending mixed fitness centres, it is a welfare measure for some centres to offer service to women only.

Children under 12 years

Sporting competitions for children under 12 years of age may NOT be restricted to male or female only. 

Example: A football club must allow boys and girls to play in the same competition up to the age of 12 years.

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The Anti-Discrimination Act also prohibits public racial, religious, sexuality and gender identity vilification. Unlawful vilification is a public act that incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or group of persons on the ground of race, religion, gender identity and sexuality

Vilification example

At a men's rugby league game, the home team is playing against a team with a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players. Some home team spectators start calling out abuse about the away team in racist terms and jump up and down making monkey noises. They encourage the home team players to 'Get the black bastard. Hit that ape. Bash him.'

If the incitement involves threats of physical harm to people or their property, it is a criminal offence.

Vilification Defences

Vilification is not unlawful if

  • Ÿthe publication of a fair report of a public act mentioned in subsection (1); or
  • Ÿthe publication of material in circumstances in which the publication would be subject to a defence of absolute privilege in proceedings for defamation; or
  • Ÿa public act, done reasonably and in good faith, for academic, artistic, scientific or research purposes or for other purposes in the public interest, including public discussion or debate about, and expositions of, any act or matter.

Additionally, Federal laws exist to protect people against racial discrimination in all areas of life, including sport. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA) which is administered by Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The Racial Hatred Act 1995 (Cth) extend the coverage of the RDA to allow people to make a complaint if they feel they have had racially offensive or abusive behaviour directed at them. The RDA aims to strike a balance between the right to freedom of speech and the right to live free from vilification. As does the Queensland ADA.

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Codes of Conduct

Best practice in a sport involves players, coaches, match officials and spectators at sporting events abiding by a Code of Conduct. The NRL has a code of conduct. The QRL has policies and procedures. Another very helpful resource is the Play by the Rules website [8] which is sponsored by the ADCQ along with other human rights agencies.  There is a wealth of knowledge, information and resources available on this website including:

  • Managing Risks for club officials;
  • Managing complaints;
  • ŸLegal information;
  • Interactive scenarios; and
  • ŸOnline training

I encourage each and every one of you here today to investigate this website.

I believe discrimination is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon which is about social exclusion as a process. The Anti-Discrimination Act sets out the boundaries what is unlawful and lawful when it comes to discrimination in Queensland.

Identifying and dismantling systemic discrimination, I believe is the greatest challenge if we are going to build a world where we can say every Queenslander is included and has 'a fair go'.

Systemic discrimination occurs when an entire network of rules and practices disadvantage less empowered people and serving at the same time to advantage the dominant group. The basis of systemic discrimination is embedded deeply into the commonly held values, stereotypes and beliefs we may have about race, gender, age, religion, impairment et cetera, of individuals and society.

The context in which the ADCQ operates has changed more significantly since it was established.  Social networking, and changing community expectations about being engaged in social change call for realignment of the ADCQ's strategy with a renewed focus on a vision for a fair and inclusive community.

A renewed focus on the vision for an inclusive community requires ADCQ to extend its reach into Qld communities – sporting and recreation facilities, schools and educational facilities and finally public and private enterprise – to strengthen awareness and sense of responsibility for identifying and protecting individuals against discrimination.  It will call for our organisation to engage the community in partnerships on a scale not previously considered. Creating opportunities where influential community leaders can meet with vulnerable people to build respectful relationships and to dismantle mythologies and stereotypes which may be held by all parties about each other.  Then collectively we may create the conditions where human rights flourish.

In 2006 David Gallop said:

Ours is a sport that is about working together and not one that tolerates racism or discrimination of any type.

And it is clear that the NRL, ARL and the QRL has provided leadership through the establishment of protocols, policies and initiatives that progress the building of a fair and inclusive sporting arena, community and society. Of course the great challenge for us all is to turn what should be into reality.

Last year the commission worked with the QRL following a spate of reports of racism aimed at indigenous players and spectators during the second State of origin match in New South Wales. A strong message was sent to the public through the media and at the grounds on the final State of origin match that a zero-tolerance approach to racism in the code would be taken by the QRL. Those of you who may have been at Suncorp Stadium would have noticed the messages on the stadium screen informing the crowd that racism would not be tolerated and where to report it if it was observed.

This is one of many examples how the commission can work with rugby league organisations and communities across the state. We also can help clubs build healthy, inclusive environments with a few simple strategies such as:

  • Ensuring you have policies, codes of conduct and procedures on equal opportunity and anti-discrimination and harassment that reflect relevant legislation, are clear and concise, are included in staff/volunteer/member inductions in a meaningful way and are reinforced regularly. Policies are of little worth if people don't understand and remember them.
  • Train all staff/volunteers on policies and procedures, as well as legislation such as the Anti-Discrimination Act.
  • Work with your younger members to ensure that they understand what is acceptable behaviour, on and off the field.
  • ŸEnsure management/coaches understand their legal obligation to take complaints seriously and to act promptly to manage and prevent discrimination or harassment.
  • ŸDisplay posters and brochures that promote inclusive, discrimination free environments.
  • ŸEnsure all staff/volunteers/members are aware of grievance procedures; if you don't have one, develop one.
  • ŸEncourage staff/volunteer diversity through recruitment processes.
  • ŸEncourage membership diversity through outreach activities that promote clubs to underrepresented groups.
  • ŸAvoid complaints from social events by ensuring all participants are aware that they're expected to behave appropriately.

The ADCQ can help you understand discrimination law in Queensland, give you strategies for preventing discrimination and harassment, show you ways of responding when problems arise, and provide assistance with policies and procedures.

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In closing

By awakening ourselves to our unconscious bias, through the building of relationships with people who come from a different country, culture, religious faith et cetera we will begin to dismantle discrimination that occurs systemically or at an individual level. We must make sure that all Australians understand they are in a culture where racism, discrimination and exclusion are no longer acceptable.

Dean Widders, a great footballer and a great indigenous leader said I remember being at a function where two players who had played in the same team for over 10 years were part of a general discussion. The non-Aboriginal player turned to the Aboriginal player and said: '… It is like when I used to call you a black so-and-so. You knew it was a joke .

"The Aboriginal player, who has accepted this for years, finally had the courage to say 'No, I didn't'.

"They were friends, but that night was the first step in them reaching a better understanding of each other. All Australians from all backgrounds need to get to know each other better. Making a stand against racial comments is only one step in the process." [9]

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1. J Quick and R Garran, The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth (1901).

2. Human Rights and equal Opportunity Commission, What's the score report.

3 . test anchor

4. LeDoux, J. The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life , New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008.

5. Diversity Best Practices website

6. M. Elizabeth Holmes, Executive Vice President & Chief Learning Officer, Roosevelt Thomas Consulting & Training, from "Getting Conscious About Managing Diversity"

7. Martin Luther King, Jr

8. Play by the Rules website

9. 'Widders looks forward' : story by Dean Widders for the Voices of Australia CD

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