Funds needed to combat prejudice

December 11, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The multi-faith educational organisation Together For Humanity (TFH), has launched its inaugural Giving Together Day in a bid to raise funds to combat prejudice and increase interfaith and intercultural understanding in schools.

While the not-for-profit has been running diversity education programs with school communities for nearly two decades, the onset of the pandemic has galvanised an increase in demand for its services.

The arrival of COVID-19 has seen a sharp increase in the number of complaints made under the Racial Discrimination Act to the Australian Human Rights Commission; the number of complaints spiked in February and have been above average since. Anti-Asian prejudice is on the rise, and recent reports show 331 antisemitic in the 12-month period (Oct 2019-Sep 2020).and 349 anti-Muslim incidents in a 24-month period (2016 and 2017).

In addition, 147 of that 349 are anti-Muslim/Islam comments online, mostly Facebook. In contrast, ECAJ does not include online comments as incidents.

TFH has a proven track record equipping students and teachers with the knowledge and skills to respectfully navigate diversity and cultivate a stronger sense of belonging together. By bringing together diverse communities and modelling cooperation in spite of differences, the organisation aims to increase social cohesion in Australia.

Independent evaluation by Western Sydney University has found TFH’s work is effective in helping students to 1) challenge stereotypes and confront fears 2) deal with prejudice and discrimination and 3) develop empathy, mutual acceptance and a sense of belonging together.[3]

National Director Rabbi Zalman Kastel said “all around the world, including here in Australia, the pandemic has brought to the fore deep prejudices and fear of ‘the other’ that seem to bubble just below the surface. People are unable to come together in ways they usually would, so it’s more important than ever that we find ways to build and strengthen our communities.

“The work that we do with schools is laying the foundation for a more equitable, cohesive Australia where everyone feels a sense of belonging, regardless of their cultural or religious identity,” he said.

For a limited time, all donations made during, and in the days leading up to Giving Together Day on Tuesday 15 December will be matched and doubled. Funds raised will go towards increasing education programs for students and teachers across Australia.

Together For Humanity Patron and internationally renowned expert in counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation, Dr Anne Aly MP, has strongly endorsed the campaign.

The Australian government has announced an inquiry into violent extremism and radicalisation.

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