Public Statement May 14, 2024

Tonight’s budget announced new funding for an investigation of racism in the higher education system, an investigation agreed to as part of the Universities Accord.  

It appears that this funding is to activate Recommendation 33 of the Accord, which called for a Tertiary Education Racism Study. The final text of the Accord can be found here. 

This is one of the items in the Budget that should be unequivocally welcomed. I know from the many parents of secondary and tertiary students on Sydney's North Shore that they are concerned about the escalating racism to which their children are being exposed. They report that antisemitism is on the rise, and that they worry, not only for their children but also for our institutions and our country. This is a genuine lived experience, and it must be acknowledged. There must be a response. 

All racism is appalling and putting anyone, let alone students, in fear of violence or abuse is completely unacceptable. Antisemitism is a particularly virulent and nasty form of racism and must be opposed wherever it appears. If the investigation agreed to by the Universities and the Federal Government can, in any way, shed light on how this and other forms of racism are spreading on our university campuses, then I wholeheartedly support it. Investigation will not be enough, but it is a necessary start. 

 Universities are and should be places to listen and learn about values, histories and cultures other than the student's own. Nobody should be afraid to go to university. There are no circumstances where deliberately or negligently creating such a fear is justified. It is important that we respect the right to free speech, and the right to exercise it, sometimes in ways that are uncomfortable and confronting. But vilification, threats and intimidation undermine that very free speech; they entrench fear and wilful ignorance and, worse still, can lead to violence. I support and encourage this investigation as one means among many to foster peaceful and productive conversations. 

 

Nicolette Boele 
Community Independent candidate for Bradfield at the next federal election 
14 May 24