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Help at hand to combat racism

If your name does not sound ‘Kiwi,’ chances are that doors to opportunities could be closed, a senior police official has said.

But unlike the past, there is greater awareness of the problem today and help is at hand, he said.

Nelson Bay Area Commander Inspector Brian McGurk said the Police were supporting ‘Speak Out Nelson Tasman’ (SONT), an initiative of the Nelson Multicultural Council to promote better understanding among ethnic groups.

The Tasman District Council, Nelson City Council, Nelson Safer Community Council and the Human Rights Commission are also behind the Project, he said.

The Project was launched following the recommendations of Human Rights lawyer Debbie Kohner whose 2009 Report had said that more than 90% of non-Europeans in Nelson had experienced some form of racial abuse.

Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres launched the Project officially in November 2010.

Inspector McGurk said people whose first language was not English, often found it difficult to engage with government agencies, carry on with day-to-day business and pursue education.

“I am ashamed that if you do not have a Kiwi-sounding name, doors to accommodation and meaningful employment are often slammed shut,” he said.

Racism can be defined as ‘anything the victim perceives to be racist,’ he said.

“It can range from racist insults to serious assaults. We record all reports and are keen to make the Nelson Tasman region safer for people of all cultures,” he said.

SONT allows victims, witnesses or support people to report racism through a website, free phone or in person, in confidence.

How to Report a Racist incident

Call Emergency line 111

Call Free phone 0508- 773256

Post online www.speakout.org.nz

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