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Friendly System Allows Racism to be Reported Confidentially

A reporting system for racist incidents in Nelson Tasman will be officially launched next week with a procession up Trafalgar Street and a celebration at the 1903 site. (Monday November 29, 1pm).

Speak Out Nelson Tasman is an initiative of the Nelson Multicultural Council with the support of government agencies, the Nelson Safer Community Council and the Human Rights Commission.

Project coordinator Alistair Webber says the user friendly system allows racism to be reported confidentially on the Speak Out website, to a free call number or face to face at several community centres, with reporting done by victims, witnesses or support people. “We’ll be logging all reports and referring victims to the appropriate agency for action, depending on how they want to handle it,” he said. “Victims decide whether they provide their personal details for follow up or they can remain anonymous.”

A racist incident is defined as ‘any incident that is perceived by the victim to be racist’. It ranges from incidents involving racist insults, through to serious assaults. “The intention is to make Nelson Tasman safer for people of all cultures,” Mr Webber said. “We’ve got fantastic support from the community – from the police, councils, NMIT and numerous other groups.”

The project will be officially launched by Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres next Monday with a procession up Trafalgar Street to a function at the 1903 site attended by Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio and Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne.

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Speak Out Nelson Tasman is the first regional reporting system in New Zealand to operate across the whole of the community. Mr Webber said this is really something to celebrate. “The Speak Out website has the tag line ‘There are no strangers here’ which reflects the reality this is a welcoming community with just a few people who spoil that,” he said. “Launching Speak Out is a celebration and everyone is welcome to wear colourful clothes and join the Samba del Sol band procession to the 1903 site from Millers Acre at 12.30pm.”

The Speak Out Nelson Tasman reporting system is based on recommendations from the research report, Towards a Reporting System in Nelson/Tasman: Diverse Communities Speak by Debbie Kohner, a Human Rights lawyer from Northern Ireland, which was published in August 2009. Debbie interviewed 184 people from 48 different ethnicities in focus groups over a period of months. Her findings indicated a very high percentage had experienced or witnessed racism but that very few had reported it. Significantly a large percentage - over 80% - indicated they would report such incidents if there was a user friendly way to do so.

The website is www.speakout.org.nz , the call free number is 0508 Speak Out, and the list of community agencies where reports can be made is on the website. The project was made possible with support from the Canterbury Community Trust.


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