published: 02 Mar 2020
The outbreak of disease is always accompanied by fear. But amid the threat of the novel coronavirus - which first emerged in Wuhan, China - this fear has taken on a racial dimension, which is creating further division in our society.
Australia's multiculturalism is much touted as a success. Yet our response to the outbreak reveals a more uncertain picture. The Australian government has imposed a travel ban against China. It has also evacuated Australian citizens in the affected area of Wuhan to Christmas Island for quarantine.
Has the right balance been struck? Or have these responses created unnecessary anxiety and stigma? Australian doctors have warned of the rise of racial abuse; Asian-Australians have reported experiencing discrimination in workplaces, public spaces and online. The spread of misinformation has fueled renewed xenophobia, and suspicion towards Chinese and Asian Australians.
Does this mark the return of an old racism? Does it signal a retreat from cultural progress? And what role must universities play in responding to these challenges? Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, join us for this critical conversation unpacking the systematic issues in combating racism today.