COVID-19 isn't the only virus that's been spreading across the country, infecting our community.
Since the start of the pandemic, Australia has seen a worrying rise in racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Last week, the Australian Human Rights Commission released an important report, Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims.
It revealed that 80 per cent of Muslim Australians have experienced prejudice and discrimination. Four in every five.
It also revealed that following the Christchurch massacre - murders committed by an Australian terrorist, born and radicalised here - the same proportion held fears for the safety of their community.
One participant in the project stated: "I felt like a target with my hijab. I didn't want my family to go out. I just didn't know how to keep anyone safe but at the same time felt too scared to not do anything."
It's so important that these stories have been shared. They must be listened to, and acted upon.
That's why, along with the vast majority of the Australian community, I welcomed the recent cancellation of the visa of racist troll Katie Hopkins.
This is a woman who infamously called for a "final solution" after the Manchester Arena bombing, a call which inspired Islamophobic attacks across the UK.
Yet her visa was cancelled because of her breaches of Australia's quarantine requirements, not because of her shocking record of spreading hate.
The Morrison government talks a lot about the character test applied to migrant and visa applicants, but Immigration Minister Karen Andrews is still silent on whether she reckons Ms Hopkins meets the requirements of this test.
That's not good enough. Nor is it satisfactory that a person of Ms Hopkins' character could be regarded as a source of entertainment, as part of a reality TV show.
This isn't, sadly, an isolated incident. The same network that sponsored Ms Hopkins' visa just earlier this month posted a tweet that specifically referenced the race of the English footballers who missed their penalty shots in the Euro 2020 final.
Racism sadly infects our sporting codes too, with incidents being reported almost daily. Reported, but not always resolved.
It's unconscionable that members of our community can be subjected to racism and have to live with the consequences of it. That anyone can be diminished, abused, even physically assaulted for being who they are.
Our multiculturalism has been modern Australia's greatest success, but it can't be taken for granted. We can't ignore the voices of hate and division who reject it.
This is why Labor has been calling for national action against racism.
It's why we fought Tony Abbott's plans to water down protections against hate speech in the Racial Discrimination Act. And it's why we've committed to a new anti-racism strategy, and urged the government to act in this regard.
But the Morrison government remains nowhere to be seen.
We've heard ministers speak of the importance of social cohesion, but these words have been belied by inaction, or worse - whether it's the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs engaging in fearmongering against Chinese Australians at the beginning of the pandemic, or Michael McCormack using his time as acting prime minister earlier this year to parrot the far-right slogan "all lives matter".
This is the same government that introduced the cruel English language test for partner visa applicants, placing further barriers on Australians trying to reunite with their loved ones.
Australians in India have been threatened with fines and jail, for the crime of attempting to come home.
Credit goes to Chin Tan, Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, who has produced a draft national framework to tackle racism, and begun community consultation around this.
He has shown a leadership that remains wanting from Australia's current government, which withdrew from this space in 2015 when funding ceased for the Gillard government's "Racism. It Stops with Me" campaign.
This denial of responsibility simply can't continue - not when so many are being subject to racism. The Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims report makes this clear, especially for those of us who haven't felt the pain of discrimination and exclusion.
Too many of us are being hurt, and this diminishes all of us.
In the context of the pandemic, it has rightly been said that we won't be safe until everyone is safe. We must apply the same logic to the insidious virus that is racism.
We won't be an inclusive and cohesive society unless and until we excise this from our streets, workplaces and sporting fields.
This starts with recognising the harm it does - to individuals and to us as an Australian community - and by committing to a national anti-racism strategy, with a zero-tolerance approach at its core.
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