On the 19th of October the ANUSA Bla(c)k, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Department released their Racism Report for 2022. The report features a series of letters from ANUSA Department Officers and ANU academics, along with responses to ANU’s current work against racism, comparative data with other Group of Eight universities, highlighting a lack of clear and concerted action. It follows the 2021 Report, which focused primarily on publicising incidents of racism. The 2022 Report focuses on addressing ANU policy and on exposing its flaws. It is a continuation of the 2021 Report, rather than a successor.
The report opens with a reiteration of the fourteen recommendations made by the BIPOC Department in the 2021 Report – including calls for a specific anti-racism policy, mandatory anti-racism training for staff, and commitment to enrolling BIPOC students.
The ANU only met one of these recommendations, signing up to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s “Racism. It stops with me.” campaign. The ANU also claims to be working on creating a safe space for BIPOC students on campus.
The 2022 Report then publishes the ANU’s response to the previous report, sent 11 months later, and an annotates its noncommittal language and lack of significant progress on anti-racist initiatives.
The bulk of the Report comprises several letters from student leaders and ANU staff involved in the BIPOC Department. Although each are worth reading in their own right, there were a few key themes throughout.
A Lack of Services
The lack of anti-racist or racism victim support services offered by the ANU was a common area of critique. This ranged from the lack of official reporting procedure and anti-racism policy to failure to account for the distinct needs of BIPOC students within broader student support services.
The report also noted the enormous workload placed upon the BIPOC Department, and particularly the Department Officer, by the ANU. As per last year’s annual report, the ANU has nearly three billion dollars in assets and made over $200 million that year. The report alleges that, despite this, the BIPOC Department (which is funded by student services and amenities fees) has become the “de facto consultant for all matters related to race and racism by all members of the ANU.” It states that this is well outside the remit of an undergraduate organisation, staffed by volunteers, and headed by an nonsalaried undergraduate student with minimal training.
The third recommendation in the 2021 Report called for the establishment of an Anti-Racism Unit at the ANU, which would ideally take on some of the work currently expected of the BIPOC Department.
When asked about what steps the ANU had been taking towards remedying the issues raised in the report, a spokesperson told Woroni,“The ANU IDEA Governance Committee is currently establishing an anti-racism taskforce to continue to explore the issues highlighted in these reports.”
They mentioned that the task force would, in some way, liaise with student representatives.
Professor Ian Anderson’s Response
The report also eviscerated Professor Ian Anderson’s response to the original report. Anderson is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Student and University Experience and he provided a response to the ANU BIPOC Department 11 months after they released the first report. In the 2022 report, the Department annotated his letter, pointing out numerous misleading statements.
This included the lack of any official apology for the racism experienced at the University, despite an ANU Spokesperson’s claim that “There is no place for racism in our community and we won’t tolerate it.” The Department also pointed out that the ANU has not contacted Dr Moret-Miranda despite Anderson’s claim otherwise.
CALD vs BIPOC
The 2022 Racism Report also calls out the ANU for the repeated use of the term “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse” (CALD), rather than BIPOC, when referring to BIPOC students or issues raised by the BIPOC Department. While current Department Officer Chanel Nguyen (she/they) accepts that the terms are not synonymous, she was quick to point out that “CALD has historically been used as term by institutions that undermine the many experiences of racism and oppression that specifically Bla(c)k, Indigenous and People of Colour face,” and, as such, feels that it is inappropriate for the university to use.
Woroni reached out to the ANU about the use of the term. The spokesperson did not comment.
Last year, the BIPOC Department launched a campaign to secure a Safe Space on campus, similar to those held by other ANUSA Departments. Nguyen told Woroni that they felt that an autonomous Safe Space was an important step in supporting those who might feel physically unsafe on campus, and in fostering a safe and comfortable community for BIPOC students.
The ANU’s response, in August of this year, to the 2021 Report which made this request, features claims that the ANU was developing plans for such a Safe Space. However, the 2022 Racism Report notes a lack of any concrete progress, and, when asked explicitly about the steps that had been taken the ANU’s spokesperson did not comment.
The BIPOC Department’s 2022 Racism Report rounds out by pulling attention to inadequate reporting procedures and a five-point comparison with other Group of Eight universities. Anyone who has read the report will be unsurprised to see the ANU in last place.
In light of an autonomous undergraduate organisation staffed entirely by volunteers writing the only ANU Racism report series, and providing a majority of the university’s anti-racism services, the university “…is grateful to the ANU BIPOC Department for its work in calling out racism.”
ANU Student Safety and Wellbeing
(02) 6125 2211
ANU BIPOC Department
ANU Indigenous Department
(02) 6125 2442
1800 737 732
ANU Women’s Department
ANU Queer* Department
ANU Respectful Relationships Unit
Disclosure: Woroni is also SSAF funded and staffed by volunteer students.
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and emerging. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.