Shepparton Research Project – Racism and People of Colour

UniMelb LogoA research project will be undertaken in Shepparton to collect experiences and produce three anti-racism messages which will be distributed to create change. The goal of the Anti-Racism Hallmark is to suggest research and interventions to combat racism at both the interpersonal and structural levels, with government, community organisations and businesses.

Racism is a pressing social problem both globally and in Australia. Racism is the outcome of beliefs that one social group is superior to others. It manifests interpersonally and structurally, targeting racialised others. Racism is based on a variety of ascribed characteristics including appearance, Indigeneity, ethnicity, religion, caste and others. It is part of everyday life, shaping all aspects of our lives including our education system, health, workplaces, and criminal justice system. It results in differential distribution of power, resources, and opportunities to racialised groups. Racism is a ‘wicked problem’: one which is multi-faceted, constantly changing, and very difficult to solve. While racism shares features around the world, it has locally specific manifestations, making an Australian approach to anti-racism essential.

Through Hallmark Research Initiative – Melbourne University with community partnerships and interdisciplinary capacity-building activities and research projects, we aim to:

  • Build the knowledge base about anti-racism
  • Build capacity and collaborations for successfully undertaking anti-racism research
  • Translate new knowledge into effective interventions, policies, and practices and work towards developing a set of assets that can be used to support change into the future.

While our research focus will be elaborated and refined in conjunction with our partners and based on our early research, preliminary research themes identified to date include:

  • A focus on disrupting and challenging structural racism
  • Addressing legacies of colonialism including those within the University of Melbourne
  • Addressing anti-racism in the digital space.

Shepparton Research Project

Racism is entrenched throughout all areas of Australian life, yet discussion of racism usually occurs around sport, politics and institutions. This focus on institutional racism and media stories removes responsibility for the majority of Australians to actively challenge racism. Yet, racism is embedded within daily interactions that subtly work to exclude, disempower and prejudice. These ‘everyday racisms’ are expressed through jokes, off-handed comments, ‘forgetting’ and nonverbal cues, and they work to re-produce and reinforce white ways of doing in our local communities.

Racism has also been found to be ‘everywhere different,’ manifesting in specific ways in different communities across Australia. This requires challenging everyday racisms in local communities with place-based messages. To challenge everyday racism in a specific community, this project will gather descriptions of racialised experiences in the everyday and use these as the foundation to create anti-racist messages.

The research aims to identify everyday racisms based on the experiences of People of Colour in Shepparton (Victoria) and use these to develop three anti-racism messages which will be distributed to create change in that town. Interviews with People of Colour will be analysed to identify everyday racisms. These narratives will inform an advisory committee made up of those with lived experiences, from grassroots organisations and experts and advocates to develop anti-racism messages that will be distributed via social media and local groups. In this way, the experiences of local People of Colour are used anonymously to develop locally relevant messages to promote change in the community.


The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health


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