Nobel laureate and outgoing Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU) Professor Brian Schmidt has issued a powerful call to action for all Australians to do more to tackle the “scourge of racism” in our nation.  

The rallying call follows world-leading research from ANU that shows everyday discrimination could be contributing to major levels of psychological distress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt is calling for more to be done to stop racism and the negative health consequences it has for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The first of its kind Mayi Kuwayu study shows 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared to 13 per cent of non-Indigenous adults.

The ANU researchers say almost half – 47 per cent – of this gap is caused by eight different types of interpersonal racial discrimination experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“Racism is deeply troubling and it is wrong. When we allow discrimination and racism to persist, it stops our collective growth as a society,” Professor Schmidt said.

“ANU has done research that illuminates a painful truth.

“The Mayi Kawayu study led by ANU professor Ray Lovett, has provided further insights into the relationship between racism and health.

“Key findings from the Mayi Kawayu study show that nearly half of the total burden of high to very high psychological distress reported amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults could be attributable to eight forms of everyday discrimination.

“These broadly relate to surveillance, persecution, disrespect and aversion.

“This ground-breaking research proves that racism has negative consequences for health.

“We can no longer ignore this stark reality.

“That’s why ANU is making the call to end racism.”

Professor Schmidt said everyday Australians, as well as leaders across business and politics “must step up” to do more to combat racism in Australia and address the “major and tragic toll” it has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“ANU is committed to raising awareness and understanding of the ongoing settler-colonial history of our nation, its ongoing impacts and how we can do better,” Professor Schmidt said.

“We believe research, education and action is fundamental to putting an end to racism.

“I encourage both individuals and organisations to use the Ending Racism check-up tools developed by the Mayi Kawayu team to reflect on what more you could do to be ending racism.

“And I want to go one step further and call out the leaders of other Australian organisations to do their part; your actions will make a difference.

“Let’s stand together, united against this killer – racism.

“Let’s challenge stereotypes, prejudices and biases wherever we encounter them.

“Let’s strive for a world where health disparities based on raced are unheard of and where all people are treated with respect and dignity at all times.

“Together we must make a real and lasting change.”

Watch Professor Schmidt’s full video message and call to action at ANU TV.

Learn more about the Mayi Kuwayu study and hear first-hand testimonials about the toll of everyday racism from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at https://mk-engaged.anu.edu.au/ending-racism/

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