Anti-racist street signs divide Sydney’s Cumberland region: #racismNOTwelcome

Furious locals speak out over ‘anti-racist’ street signs erected across neighbourhoods where nearly 70 per cent of residents have a foreign background: ‘What called for that?’

  • Row over placement of #racismNOTwelcome street sign near war memorial
  • Councillor calls it ‘un-Australian’ and Indigenous veteran say it is ‘disrespectful’
  • Cumberland council has deployed 50 of the woke signs at a cost of $50,000 
  • Sign divides locals with some calling them pointless, others welcoming them 

The placing of a ‘woke‘ anti-racism street signs near a Sydney war memorial has been called ‘disrespectful’, treacherous’ and ‘un-Australian’ by outraged locals. 

Cumberland Council in western Sydney has put up 50 bright red ‘street signs’ that say ‘#racismNOTwelcome’ as part of a citywide social media campaign to promote inclusion.

But it is one near the Anzac Remembrance Wall in the local park that become the centre of a bitter row. 

Independent councillor Steve Christou says the signs in the ethically diverse area where 70 per cent of residents speak a language other than English, dishonours the memory of fallen Diggers.

The #racismNOTwelcome street signs are dividing residents in the western Sydney area of Cumberland

The #racismNOTwelcome street signs are dividing residents in the western Sydney area of Cumberland

He called the sign near the war memorial ‘treacherous disrespectful and quite frankly unAustralian’.

Retired war veteran and Bundjalung man Dave Williams agrees. 

‘Make your protests – great! But do it elsewhere,’ he told A Current Affair.

‘Do it properly and come and say G’day and introduce themselves rather than come and stick a sign up in someone else’s turf and say ‘we’re doing our bit’.

‘It is just so disrespectful.

It shouldn’t be there, they are making a point using this park and what his park represents. Move it.

Three other councillors have joined with Mr Christou in calling for the sign to be removed. 

Cumberland councillor Stever Christou calls the #racismNOTwelcome sign near the war memorial 'treacherous' and 'un-Australian'

Cumberland councillor Stever Christou calls the #racismNOTwelcome sign near the war memorial ‘treacherous’ and ‘un-Australian’ 

A motion to do that will be debated at the next council meeting. 

Cllr Christou wants all the #racismNOTwelcome signs, which reportedly cost $5000 for council to erect, ‘put in the bin’.

‘There shouldn’t be a place for them anywhere,’ he said.

‘If you want to stamp out racism go out and start some education campaigns somewhere. 

‘Residents are afraid it’s devaluing their house prices because there’s a perception in the streets that they are up in that people (are) looking at them and thinking there might be racism in this street. 

‘Those people say ‘I’m not buying here’. 

Veteran and Bundjalung man Dave Williams staunchly opposes the #racismNOTwelcome sign being placed near a war memorial

Veteran and Bundjalung man Dave Williams staunchly opposes the #racismNOTwelcome sign being placed near a war memorial

Channel Nine approached locals to gauge more widely the sentiment about the signs.

One woman questioned the need for them and mocked their effectiveness.  

‘What called for that?’ she said.

‘Where I live it won’t be necessary. 

‘You read a sign and you go ‘OK, I won’t be racist’? 

‘It doesn’t work. It’s not effective.’

However, some of the interviewed locals said they thought the signs ‘were needed’ and had ‘a good message’. 

The bright red street signs popped up on lamp posts throughout Sydney's wealthy eastern suburbs including Paddington (pictured), Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill and Double Bay

The bright red street signs popped up on lamp posts throughout Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs including Paddington (pictured), Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill and Double Bay

Cumberland’s Labor mayor Lisa Lake has refused to be interviewed about the signs but did release a statement.

‘We strive to embrace all nationalities, cultures, religions and provide a supportive and inclusive community for all,’ Ms Lake said.

‘Cumberland is one of the most multicultural communities in Sydney and we strive to embrace all nationalities, cultures, religions and provide a supportive and inclusive community for all.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster (pictured) is one of the leading activists for the campaign

Former Socceroo Craig Foster (pictured) is one of the leading activists for the campaign

‘The racism not welcome campaign reflects these values.’

Cumberland is a very ethically diverse area with official stats showing 70 per cent of residents speak a language other than English. 

In Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs Woollahra Council’s rolling out of the  #racismNOTwelcome signs was met with hostility in some quarters.

Liberals politicians demanded the signs, which popped up in Paddington, Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill and Double Bay be ripped down.

The backlash saw a motion before put before council that said: ‘Locals say the signs give a false impression that Woollahra locals are racists, while there has been no evidence presented to that effect.’

Former Socceroo Craig Foster is one of the leading activists behind the #racismNOT welcome campaign which launched last year. 

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