RACISM has not plagued Ballarat's Chinese community the way attacks and hostility towards people of Asian descent are increasingly playing out out across the state during coronavirus lockdowns.
Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat's Charles Zhang said the community had braced itself for the possibility issues but instead the community had found strong support in Ballarat.
The Courier is aware of isolated incidents directed at Asian people and those of Asian descent in Ballarat the past month but Mr Zhang said there had not been any issues among the city's Chinese population.
Early COVID-19 cases have been connected to a live animal market, or wet market, in the Chinese city Wuhan but experts are unclear this was the source of the virus or place where it jumped to humans.
A popular Geelong doctor this week said he feared the pandemic was putting people on edge and they were looking to Asian-Australians as scapegoats.
Ern Chang spoke out in national media after experiencing verbal abuse outside a takeaway shop last Saturday.
Mr Zhang said the Ballarat Chinese community had set up an emergency group about five or six weeks ago for an immediate support response should such issues or attacks arise.
This came after increasing concerns from the Chinese community as government restrictions were put on Victorian cities and towns in a bid to prevent coronavirus spread.
Mr Zhang said the community was determined to make sure they were doing the right thing and abiding government restrictions but also to find ways to help in Ballarat.
"We feel so pleased to have support from all different areas of Ballarat," Mr Zhang said.
"...I know the Chinese history in Ballarat is good and there is an understanding and respect in Ballarat for Chinese-Australians. I'm so pleased we haven't heard anything."
Mr Zhang said Australians and particularly Ballarat residents were lucky to have a strong response in virus prevention, social distancing and helping each other.
He said it was concerning to hear reports of racism directed towards Chinese friends, particularly in Melbourne and Geelong, because unfortunately that tended to overshadow all the good support from others.
Ballarat's Chinese community is giving back via face masks
TRADITIONALLY, the Chinese way in facing a crisis is that we are all in this together - a "one for all, all for one", Charles Zhang says.
When the coronavirus pandemic started to impact Ballarat, the city's Chinese community rallied to find the best and quickest response it could to help here. This was with face masks.
Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat raised more than $4000 to buy face masks to distribute to those most in need across Ballarat, including for nursing homes, post offices and the Salvation Army.
They have distributed about 2000 of their 10,000 masks for free and are putting out the call for others in need in Ballarat.
Society chairman Charles Zhang said fundraising had started in early January when it became clear China was facing a health crisis. The Chinese city Wuhan was were the early COVID-19 cases were detected.
But the society quickly realised this was becoming a major international issue and the face masks could instead be put to use here, in Ballarat.
if people help you, then you help other people.Charles Zhang, Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat
"We felt we needed to do something about it in the general community and saw that was the best way," Mr Zhang said. "We made the decision at the height of the Australian coronavirus issue and there seemed everyday to be more and more cases.
"...In my principle, if people help you, then you help other people."
Chinese history in supporting Ballarat health goes back more than a century. Mr Zhang said the Chinese community did a lot of fundraising for the Ballarat hospital in the 1860s.
Mr Zhang said the Ballarat community had been greatly supportive for Chinese-Australians living across the region during the pandemic.
The Chinese community was determined to show it was doing the right thing and getting hands-on to help Ballarat during such challenging times.
Groups in need of face masks can contact the Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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