All members of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists (SASP) are deeply saddened by the horrific murders in the Christchurch mosques last week. Our Society was formed in 1972 to promote co-operation, research and education in social psychology in Australia and New Zealand.
Last week shone a harsh light on the devastation caused by prejudice and discrimination, where innocent people going about their daily lives were targeted solely because of their group memberships – their religion, their ethnicity and their cultural traditions. Like us, the world is united in grief that racism and intergroup threat can lead to such horror.
Laid bare are the dynamics of intergroup conflict and the ongoing challenge of building and strengthening group cohesion in the face of multiculturalism and diversity. People around the world also have expressed solidarity in rejecting hate, division and violence and have affirmed values that promote respect, inclusion and kindness.
These are areas where SASP members have much expertise. We offer not only our heartfelt condolences. We pledge openly to continue our efforts to support our communities and governments in finding effective ways to ensure harmony and social cohesion.
To aid these efforts, SASP is now commissioning a White paper style report for our membership, community groups and the Australian and NZ governments to: 1) provide access to clear and accurate social-psychological knowledge on the causes of group-based violence, 2) outline practical and evidence-based ways that intergroup conflict can be addressed; and 3) expose gaps in our current knowledge and its translation into practice.
We hope that, in our professional capacity, we can provide insights and guidance to others to allow us all to work together to eliminate racial and ethnic hatred so that we may never witness again the horrors of Christchurch. We stand with the NZ Prime Minister in saying, “They are us.”