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Appointment of Race Discrimination Commissioner

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THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP Attorney-General Minister for Emergency Management Special Minister of State Minister for the Public Service and Integrity

THE HON JENNY MACKLIN MP Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister for Disability Reform

SENATOR THE HON KATE LUNDY Minister for Multicultural Affairs


29 July 2013


Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC today announced the appointment of Dr Tim Soutphommasane as Race Discrimination Commissioner.

“Australian multiculturalism is about embracing and benefiting from the strength of our cultural diversity,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“I congratulate Dr Soutphommasane on his appointment and look forward to his contribution to promoting human rights, diversity and acceptance in Australia.”

Dr Soutphommasane will join the Australian Human Rights Commission and lead its work to combat racial discrimination - including through the National Anti-Racism Strategy campaign, ‘Racism: It Stops with Me’.

He has been appointed for a period of five years and will start in the position on 20 August 2013.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said Dr Soutphommasane brings a wealth of experience to the role.

“Dr Soutphommasane has been a strong contributor to our national conversations about multiculturalism and race. I look forward to him continuing to help lead those conversations as Race Discrimination Commmissioner.”

Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, welcomed the appointment and said, “Racism and discrimination have no place in our society. Australians from all backgrounds should be given every opportunity to be part of Australia’s social, economic and cultural life, and deserve a strong advocate.”

Dr Soutphommasane is an academic specialist in multiculturalism and citizenship, and an author of three books in those fields. He is a regular media commentator, whose work has been influential in shaping debates about culture and identity in Australia and Britain.

He will bring to the position an in-depth understanding of current and emerging issues relating to multiculturalism in modern Australia.

The Attorney-General’s Department conducted a selection process in accordance with the APSC Guidelines. The position was widely advertised and applicants were assessed against selection criteria by a panel comprising the Australian Human Rights Commission President, a Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Public Service Commission, and a senior official from the Attorney-General’s Department. The panel recommended Dr Soutphommasane as suitable for the position.

Media contact: Annie Williams 0428 040 522; Gia Metherell 0477 366 575 (Dreyfus) Kate Thwaites 0429067500 (Macklin) Emma Smith 0434 6646 05 (Lundy)

Biography: Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Dr Soutphommasane is currently University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights in the University of Sydney, and an opinion columnist with The Age. He is also presenter of Mongrel Nation on ABC Radio National.

Dr Soutphommasane has contributed to national and international debates about multiculturalism and national identity through his numerous books in political theory, and through his regular media commentary in print, television and radio. His research has focused on the concepts of citizenship and identity, as well the development of multicultural policy in Australia. He holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford.

He is also a board member of the National Australia Day Council, a member of the Australian Multicultural Council and a fellow of Per Capita and St James Ethics Centre. Dr Soutphommasane previously worked as a speechwriter to Bob Carr when he was NSW premier.

Further information about Dr Soutphommasane is available at