By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO
Letter to the editor first published in The Australian, 7 June, 2012.
Congratulations to the Collingwood Football Club and the AFL for taking a tough stance against racist behaviour.
The decision by Collingwood player Dale Thomas to take action against racial attack was brave and sends a clear message to others that it’s OK to challenge this behaviour.
VicHealth’s research shows that being the target of racial discrimination can cause anxiety and depression. We want Victorians to understand that race-based discrimination affects people’s health and that we all have a role in stopping it.
We are currently researching people’s willingness to intervene in situations of racism.
The early results tell us that the will is there, it’s a matter of confidence and empowerment. For every person who steps up, another 10 could do the same.
Dale Thomas didn’t stand back and watch it happen, even in the heat of a footy game. Nor did the fans who reported the abuse to authorities.
Their leadership has sent a strong message to the whole community that racism has no place in sport or in our society.