Anti-Asian hate vigil in Australia hears calls for tougher laws and compulsory training

Organisers of a rally in Sydney have called for compulsory anti-racism education and training in all public and private institutions in Australia.

A minute's silence has been held at a Sydney rally to remember victims of Asian hate, following the shootings in the US city of Atlanta.

A minute's silence has been held at a Sydney rally to remember victims of Asian hate, following the shootings in the US city of Atlanta. Source: SBS News

A vigil in Sydney has heard calls for stronger government action to combat the since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organisers said it is the first anti-Asian hate vigil to be held in Australia and follows reports of 520  over the past year.


The Asian Australian Alliance recorded the incidents over the past year since April 2, 2020.

Erin Wen Ai Chew, founder of the Asian Australian Alliance, said more must be done to stop the attacks.

"Currently, the non-acknowledgement has normalised the anti-Asian racism, and we are sick and tired of this and do not want the issue swept under the rug by the Australian Government."

Vigil organisers called on the Australian government to condemn racism, strengthen anti-racism laws and protections, and roll out compulsory anti-racism education in all public and private institutions.

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong said, as a Chinese Australian, the lived experience of ongoing racism and the increased hostility aimed at Asians during the pandemic is harmful. 

"There is racism in Australia and discrimination in Australia that impacts people here. And if you were standing where I'm standing, you would see the hurt that it causes people.

"And I can say the time for being silent on this stuff is done."

Korean-Australian writer Shona Yang said the Atlanta shootings in March, which resulted in the death of eight people, including six Asian women, was shocking and prompted her to organise the Sydney rally. 

"It didn't really hit me until I started to see the faces of some of the victims; faces that could have been a friend's mum, an aunt, a lady at my church.

"That is when it started to be a lot more personal."

She said the rally is aimed at preventing events such as the Atlanta shootings from happening in the first place. 

"For me, one of the biggest purposes of this vigil is that sense of unity.

"When we gather together and we hear different stories within our community, it means we're stronger and we can band together to actually say we will not tolerate racism against Asian Australians, against the First Nations communities, and all the minority communities in this country."

In an open letter addressed to Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke, rally organisers urged him to issue a statement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemning racism against Asian-Australian communities.

Ms Leong said it is concerning to see the number of racist attacks against Asian Australians during the pandemic.

"Whether it is racial violence or aggression, verbally or physically, it has an impact on our abilities as humans to enjoy full participation in our society."

She said she would like to see more effective anti-racism laws, taking inspiration from new legislation in the US.

A , creates a new Justice Department role to accelerate the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes.

It also provides more support for local law enforcement agencies to tackle anti-Asian hate violence; and includes provisions to improve the collection of hate crime data and establish hate crime hotlines.

3 min read
Published 24 April 2021 at 9:45pm
Source: SBS News