MSs took evidence from the social justice minister about plans to make Wales an anti-racist country by 2030.
Jane Hutt told the equality committee that inequality during the pandemic led to a clearer commitment on tackling systemic, institutional racism in Wales.
The social justice minister argued the anti-racist Wales action plan is a much bolder vision, which addresses every aspect of life, compared with the previous equality strategy.
Ms Hutt raised the importance of putting people with lived experience at the forefront of a governance structure that includes “formidable” external accountability.
Pressed about funding pressures by Jenny Rathbone, who chairs the committee, she told MSs the cross-government plan is budgeted for and remains a priority for ministers.
“I’ve done everything I can to protect funding within the social justice budget,” she said.
Ms Hutt argued many of the plan’s actions are rooted in culture change rather than funding but she stressed that ministers must deliver on the plan despite financial constraints.
Sioned Williams, for Plaid Cymru, asked about the children’s commissioner’s report on experiences of racism in secondary schools, which was published last week.
Ms Hutt told committee members that ministers will consider the recommendations.
Agreeing that education is fundamental to achieving the vision, she said all initial teacher education programmes in Wales are now required to be anti-racist.
She pointed to professional learning, which has reached 20,000 teachers, and bursaries for ethnic minority student teachers.
Ms Hutt also highlighted that black history is part of the new curriculum, adding that refreshed anti-bullying guidance for schools will be published in the new year.
“Things are changing,” she said. “But it is going to take time.”
Labour’s Ken Skates raised comments from Swansea Council which questioned how much thought went into the plan and setting realistic timeframes.
Ms Hutt said: “It is absolutely important that we hear all of that feedback.”
Mr Skates highlighted concerns about a lack of progress on actions relating to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community.
Ms Hutt told MSs that strides are being made on some commitments but she criticised councils’ slow progress in terms of providing sites.
Altaf Hussain, for the Conservatives, highlighted that the 2022-23 progress report on the plan was published on Friday.
The South Wales West MS raised an Equality and Human Rights Commission report which found black or mixed ethnic people were more likely to experience sexual assault.
Sarah Murphy, a Labour backbencher, asked about action to make private landlords aware of the plan and tackle the discrimination faced by migrants when trying to rent a home.
Ms Hutt highlighted her written evidence, saying Rent Smart Wales ran an awareness campaign centred on hate crime and discrimination during black history month.
Ms Murphy also asked about South Wales and Gwent Police using live facial recognition technology, raising concerns about potential discrimination.
She said the technology was deployed in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd town centres for the first time last week, “with no prior warning given to anybody”.
Ms Hutt told MSs she would write to the committee about the issue following the evidence session on Monday December 4.
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