03 9418 9929 enquiries@ceh.org.au

CEH saddened by weekend death of young woman and angered by recent racist comments by Peter Dutton.

The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health (CEH) offers condolences and support to the family and community of Laa Chol, during this period of grief. We would also ask politicians to think carefully before using this tragic event for short-term media exposure.

Laa Chol was, sadly, found dead on the 56th floor of the EQ Tower early Saturday morning after a fight between people who attended a party there. She was part of Melbourne’s South Sudanese community and according to The Age and Victoria Police’s Commander Stuart Bateson the community is now suffering from “widespread grief and a widespread desire to bring perpetrators to justice” in reaction to this death.

Alison Coelho, Co-manager of the CEH expressed her feelings today about the incident; “On behalf of CEH I would just like to express my heartfelt sadness and condolences to Laa Chol’s family and offer support to them in what must be an extremely distressful time,” she said. “We are so sorry for your loss and want you to know that we are thinking of you, your loved ones and your community during this difficult period,”

Laa Chol has been described by friends and family as a second-year legal studies student and talented soccer player who was also a clever and happy person.

Her death has prompted an unfortunate series of statements from Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, linking the incident to a larger campaign to vilify the South-Sudanese community in Victoria.

“Dozens of women have been killed violently this year in Australia, this is a real problem that needs to be addressed by politicians and the community. I am disturbed that the cultural background of this victim seems to be the sole focus of Mr Dutton,” she said. 

“He is using the tragic death of a young woman to generate more racist sentiment focused on the South Sudanese community purely for political gain,”. 

“We would encourage all politicians to listen to the Victorian Police who have pleaded that political figures do not use this incident to generalise about an entire community of people,” Alison said.

“Violence against women affects all women no matter what background and again this has nothing to do with race, we are committed to continuing to work with communities to highlight the importance of healthy relations, gender equity and consent,”

CEH works closely with a range of people from new migrant and refugee backgrounds to create better access to the health system, including people from a South Sudanese cultural background.   

“We are already hearing of further incidents of people being abused in the street because of their appearance, and these incidents are the consequences of the actions of irresponsible people. Politicians like Peter Dutton, who are ministers, are supposed to represent Australia as a whole, not just the views of a narrow, bigoted minority.” Alison said. 



Related Information

Key Tip for Improving Your Communication

I recently came across the acronym ELI. I know that acronyms are usually the enemy of good communication but I’m making an exception. ELI14 means Explain it like I’m 14 This is a very clear (and cute) way of explaining the level...

read more

Chinese Community Comes Together on World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C affect 325 million people globally. While Australia has made significant advances in the response to hepatitis B in recent years, the illness remains a serious public health challenge. According to the latest Hepatitis B Mapping Project...

read more

Multicultural approach to drug support to save lives

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is investing $900,000 in a multicultural drug support program in partnership with the South Sudanese community. The program will be run by the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health...

read more

Overseas Born Almost Half of New HIV Diagnoses

While HIV diagnoses have notably declined the past five years, almost half of all cases in 2018 in Australia were among overseas born people (46%), according to the latest national report released by the Kirby Institute. There have been major scientific developments...

read more