Against the alarming backdrop of a surge in racist and discriminatory attacks in Victoria, Courage to Care Victoria is tackling bad behaviour one school at a time.
Alpha Cheng, whose father Curtis was shot dead by an ISIS radicalised teenager in 2017, was the keynote speaker at Courage to Care’s recent gala event.
His key message for all Australians was to be ‘’upstanders” rather than bystanders against racism.
‘As Australians we must speak out against inequity. No-one, especially young people, should feel any less of themselves or be disadvantaged because of their race, religion, identity or postcode,’ said Alpha, who is a Courage to Care Ambassador.
Alpha has turned his personal tragedy into a call for Australians to unite rather than be divided by hate. Despite suffering at the hands of extremists, Alpha strongly believes societies will be better when people respect diverse cultures.
‘We cannot give into prejudice, stereotypes and scapegoating for no apparent reasons but to further an extreme ideology. This narrative seeks to divide us. Inclusion, acceptance and respect are the most important values we all need to display to create a society where we can all thrive.’
In 2017-2018, complaints of racism to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission rose by nearly 90 per cent. In the same period, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry reported a 60 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Australia, with almost 30 per cent of these incidents occurring in Victoria.
The values emphasised by Alpha, despite the tragedy affecting his family, are reflected in Courage to Care’s School Program which informs and educates Victorian secondary school students about the dangers of prejudice, racism and discrimination. It also empowers young people to challenge and speak out against such unacceptable human traits.
Using the Holocaust and other genocides as case studies, Courage to Care explores the dangers of prejudice, racism, stereotyping and bullying and the consequences of bystander behaviour.
‘By understanding the stories of ordinary people who risked their own safety to save others, participants see that each person can make a difference,’ said Chairman of Courage to Care, Dr Tony Weldon.
James Merlino, Victorian Minister for Education, launched a new exhibition using multimedia units for the schools’ programs in 2016. Since then similar technology has been added allowing the program to be offered to schools as an Incursion.
Funded by Gandel Philanthropy, the Victorian Department of Education and Training and other philanthropists and individual donors, the exhibition features touchscreen technology and also interactively explores specific historical items and material that makes the Courage to Care story even more accessible and relatable for Victorian high school students.
The School Program has been positively received by both students and teachers.
‘It’s eye-opening and teaches us more than history and the Holocaust. It inspires you to be an individual and stand up for your beliefs. It made me realise I can make a difference,’ said one Victorian secondary student.
A teacher concurred, saying, ‘It had a major impact on students to think about others and have the courage to stand up.’
The Courage to Care Schools Program is taught by volunteers and this year (2019) it is anticipated that 7000 Victorian students will have engaged with the program. Since 2000 more than 135,000 students have participated. A modified version of the program will be available for Victorian students in years 5-8 by the end of the year.
About Courage to Care
Courage to Care is a volunteer-led not-for-profit charity that informs and educates Australians about the dangers of prejudice, racism and discrimination and empowers them to challenge and speak out against such unacceptable human traits. The program points to the Holocaust as one of humanity’s worst examples of how bystander behaviour can lead to open displays of racism, hatred and, ultimately, to violence, persecution and murder.
While the major focus of the work of Courage to Care in Victoria has been its program for secondary school students, it delivers a range of programs across Victoria to transform bystanders into “upstanders”.
It runs programs in:
• Tertiary institutions
• Public and private organisations
• Clubs and community groups
Courage to Care programs are also offered in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and soon Adelaide.
For more information
If you would like more information or a media interview, please contact Mike Zervos, Ph: 0412 319 156 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org