African-Australian Communities

Mr PEARSON (Essendon)  — I rise today to condemn the targeting and vilification of African-Australian communities. I know my electorate and the communities that choose to live in it. What I have seen are parents who hope that their children live in decent, clean, safe and affordable housing. What I have seen are young children wanting a decent education. What I have seen are young people hoping to get a trade or a qualification so that they can get a job. What I have seen are tertiary students who miss out on internships or work experience because of the colour of their skin, their name or the housing they live in. What I have seen are students who keep studying beyond a bachelor degree, hoping to get a job even though their student loans increase every year. This is what I have seen and this is the reality for many African-Australians. It is so easy to target a segment of our community for the way they look, the God they worship, the way they speak English or where they live. It is so easy to whip up hysteria with photoshopped images and lazy slogans.

In spite of these challenges the vast majority of African-Australians are striving to empower and support their local communities. Through homework clubs, soccer tournaments and peer support networks African-Australians are not seeking pity, which itself can lead to the racism of low expectations. What they want are elected leaders who support their desire for their community to reach its full potential. They want elected leaders who believe in their sons and their daughters and who will work for them. African-Australians in my community want for their children what I want for mine, and it is very simple: the opportunity to have a meaningful life and to live a life filled with happiness.