One of the world’s biggest organisations set up to tackle poverty and injustice has called on Australians to “call out racism and be champions for change” after one of their Australian staff was targeted for blowing the whistle on yet another blackface scandal.
Over the weekend, Gunditjamara woman Sissy Austin, an employee with Oxfam Australia, took to her personal Facebook page to protest against an ‘Aussie icon-themed’ party in her hometown of Ballarat, where people turned up covered in black body paint.
Two men posed for photos in ‘full blackface’ wearing lap laps, after painting their entire bodies black. Another partygoer painted her face black and turned up dressed as Cathy Freeman, wearing a cape.
Since highlighting the offensive conduct, Austin has been abused and harassed via her Facebook page.
Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia issued a rallying cry late yesterday, noting that “Australia can and must be better than this”.
“[We] need more people like Sissy Austin — to be champions for Indigenous rights,” Dr Szoke wrote.
“To mock and further stigmatise a minority group that has for generations suffered is not okay. It’s not just a joke.
“Racism has no place in our parties, in our backyards, at our sporting events or in our society at large.
“Oxfam is calling for more Australians to be courageous and call out racism. To speak to friends, colleagues and family members about what constitutes racism so that together we can make our country a place of acceptance.”
Dr Szoke also urged Australians to get involved in the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Racism: It Stops with Me’ campaign.
“Australia must and can be better than this.”
You can read Oxfam’s full statement here.