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Racism associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected certain groups in Australia, for example Indigenous, Asian, Muslim and migrant communities (Kamp et al. 2021; Elias et al. 2021). The pandemic has highlighted the impact of structural racism in public health emergencies as evident in disparities in exposure, susceptibility and treatment of the novel coronavirus along racial lines (Yearby & Mohapatra 2020). Furthermore, public health measures adopted to mitigate the spread of the virus in NSW were also uneven. This disparity was particularly evident in Western Sydney, home to the largest Indigenous, Muslim and migrant communities in Sydney, which saw some of the strictest and longest lockdown regulations, received the most COVID-related fines, and saw a heightened police and enforcement presence that was not evident in other parts of Sydney. Western Sydney has been subjected to racial logics of inequality as a result of negative COVID-related impacts on employment, income, access to appropriate public health messaging, and mobility, as well as exposure to the virus and related deaths. Elias et al. (2020) talk of the “multidimensional nature of racism”, where those “who already face numerous social, economic and health vulnerabilities” also encountered intensified marginalisation and exclusion during the pandemic.
The aim of this panel then is to centre the communities who experienced racism, and to draw on the social sciences to discuss a community-research agenda for addressing the problem of racism generated by the pandemic and broader continuing inequality in Western Sydney. Looking at the multidimensional nature of racism, specifically, structural racism, from an inter-disciplinary perspective, we will draw on geography, sociology, social work and law, in order to respond to the needs of the communities who experience racism.
Sheila Ngoc Pham
Sheila Ngoc Pham is a writer working across public health, media and the arts. She is a PhD candidate at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation and a casual lecturer in public health ethics at Macquarie University. She lives on Darug land in south-west Sydney with her husband and two kids.
Bashir Ahmad Akbari is a Western Sydney resident, currently studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Criminology at Western Sydney University.
Azadeh Dastyari (Law)
Azadeh Dastyari is an Associate Professor in the School of Law at Western Sydney University and a Director of the Network for Law and Human Rights. She researches in the areas of human rights, refugee rights, law of the sea and constitutional law. She is currently working on improving the application of human rights principles in public health emergencies such as the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Linda Briskman (Social Work)
Linda Briskman is an experienced academic and human rights social worker. Her areas of expertise include Indigenous rights; migration/refugees; and racism, particularly Islamophobia. She conducts inter-disciplinary research and publishes across these three areas in Australia and internationally.
Rhonda Itaoui (Geography)
Rhonda Itaoui is a researcher with the Centre for Western Sydney. She is interested in geographies of diversity, multiculturalism and belonging in urban spaces. Rhonda has a PhD in Human geography, which focused on developing place-based responses to Islamophobia in Australia and the United States of America.
Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath (Institute for Culture and Society)
Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath is a researcher at the Institute for Culture and Society. His research sits at the intersection of digital media, social exclusion, and race/ethnicity. His current works explore the critical role of digital media on mis/disinformation and the complex relationship between digital and social inclusion. Jasbeer comes with over a decade of media and communication professional experience and has significant experience in developing research impact strategies and conducting engaged research.
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