Findings from the final conference of the REVERT project
The Final Conference of the “REVERT: Resilience without ViolencE, Resistance without haTe in Public Transport” project was completed with great success. It was held online on 17 September 2021 at 16:00 ‐ 19:00. The partnership of the project, coordinated by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens – Department of Communication and Media – Laboratory of Communication & Media Psychology in collaboration with Athens Public Transport Organization, Syneirmos NGO, Almasar NGO and CMT PROOPTIKI Consulting Management Training, together with representatives of civil society, researchers and academics, as well as with trained drivers and stationmasters of the OSY, presented the results and actions of the project while at the same time issues of tackling racism and xenophobia within public transport were discussed.
The main objective of the conference was, on the one hand, to present the results of the program and, on the other hand, to create a more general framework for dialogue. Through the presentations and the discussion with participants with many years of specialised experience, conference’s focus was about the needs and challenges in dealing with the phenomenon of racism and xenophobia in general and more specifically within buses and trolleys and the need to create synergies and connect all stakeholders/bodies involved at multiple levels of governance.
In particular, the topics discussed focused, among others, on the framework of action of the Racist Violence Recording Network and the Police regarding racism. The results of project’s research were also presented together with the activities that created the “Agents of Change” for a peaceful coexistence in public transport and the effort of a culture of change for more reporting of incidents of racism and violence within public transport. Trainers, drivers and station masters who took part in projects activities conveyed their experience and how they experienced the program themselves, thus activating the central message of the project “Feeling safe in public transport!”.
The results of the project highlighted the need for continuous training and support of drivers on human rights issues and conflict resolution as well as the need for cooperation and implementation of further holistic interventions. In addition, it is worth noting that the educational process gave space and time to the participants to talk about violence in general, about the difficulties of their working conditions, about their feelings but also about their exploitation and management. Finally, the need for continuous awareness raising of passengers themselves regarding their rights and obligations was highlighted, while at the same time the imprint of the pandemic seemed to affect to a significant extent the microcosm of urban transport and more specifically the interaction of drivers and passengers.
The conference was coordinated by the Professor of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Mrs. Chatzouli, Athina, while official guests who addressed the conference were, among others, the General Secretary of Transport of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Mr. Xifaras, Ioannis, the General Secretary for Migration Policy, Reception and Asylum, of the Ministry of Citizen Protection, Mr. Georgiadis V. Patroclos, the Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Professor Dimopoulos, Meletios-Athanasios, the Director of the Laboratory of Psychology of Communication & Media, of the Department of Communication and Mass Media of the University of Athens, Professor Davos, Betina, the Chief Executive Officer of the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA), Mr. Athanasopoulos, Nikolaos and the President of the Board of Directors of O.SY. S.A., Mr. Xypolytas Vassilis.
Also, representatives of organizations such as, among others, Mrs. Anastasopoulou Garyfallia from the Racist Violence Recording Network and Mr. Tollias, Kimonas from the Police, discussed and exchanged views on relevant issues. The conference ended with the hope that the legacy of the REVERT project will continue the vision of creating a safe and harmonious environment for every passenger in Athens Public Transport.
The end of the conference was followed by a closed working group in which the project partners participated along with representatives from the Police, the Racist Violence Recording Network, the Coordination Center of the Municipality of Athens on Migrant and Refugee Issues (ACCMR), the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) and the Road Transport S.A. (OSY). The topics of discussion during the breakout session focused on exploring synergies between actors to address racism and xenophobia in public transport. More specifically, the stakeholders developed future proposals for cooperation on education and training issues, exchange of findings and official reports, as well as discussed ways of reproducing the initiative in other Municipalities of Greece based on the model of the REVERT project on municipal services and the support of victims of racist and violent incidents.