One in five people living in Australia has experienced racial abuse
- During the past year, one in eight people living in Australia was a victim of racial discrimination (around 2.6 million people). This is a decrease from one in seven the previous year, which is great news (Source).
- One in five people living in Australia has been a victim of verbal racial abuse (Source).
- Nearly half of all Australian residents from a culturally and linguistically diverse background have experienced racism at some time in their life (Source).
- Three in every four Indigenous Australians regularly experience racism (Source).
Half of us are positive about cultural diversity
- While five in ten of us are positive about cultural diversity, four in ten are ambivalent about cultural diversity. One in ten has racist attitudes (Source).
- One in seven people living in Australia are against the concept of multiculturalism (Source).
- Three in ten people do not believe that immigrants make Australia stronger (Source), and one in three believe there are some cultural groups that do not belong in Australia (Source: VicHealth 2007).
How does racism affect us?
Cross-cultural tension affects everybody in our society.
A range of health problems including high blood pressure and heart disease, depression, anxiety, low birth rate and premature birth can all be caused directly by people’s personal experiences of racism (Source).
It also affects people’s employment and housing opportunities. For example, to get as many job interviews as an Anglo applicant, an Indigenous person must submit 35% more applications, a Chinese person 68% more, an Italian person 12% more, and a Middle Eastern person 64% more applications (Source).
Racism can lead to violence, as seen in Melbourne and Sydney during the past decade.
The Tourism Forecasting Committee says the number of Indians applying for student visas to Australia has plummeted by 46% due to racially-motivated attacks. This is a potential economic loss to Australia of up to $78 million.
The costs are also high for businesses. For every employee on $40,000 per year who takes a fortnight’s stress leave due to racial discrimination, it costs a business $1,855 (Source).
Most people know the solution to gender inequality requires both males and females to take action. Similarly, the solution to race inequality requires commitment and participation by everyone regardless of their cultural origin.
This goal is achievable by working on both a local and national scale, in a range of settings, simultaneously.
All Together Now’s contribution is to create innovative, evidence-based, and and effective social marketing aimed at preventing racism.
It can be difficult to talk to people who have a different opinion to you about racism – particularly if you feel strongly about your beliefs.Our tip for avoiding an argument is to never call somebody a racist. If you do this, the person will become defensive and not listen to anything else you say. Instead, you should tell them that you disagree with what they have said, and explain why. You should only criticise the comment, not the person.
Ask an open-ended question
If you feel the conversation is turning into an argument, stop and take a breath. If you become emotional it will be more difficult for you to respond, so it is best to try and stay calm. Continue the conversation by asking the person an open-ended question, like:
- “why do you think that?”
- “why do you think that’s funny?”
- “why did you say that?”
Sharing how you feel about what they have said may also help:
- “It makes me uncomfortable to hear that, what did you really mean?”
- “That comment offended me, why did you say that?”
- “I always considered you to be a fair-minded person, why do you think that‘s funny?”
You may be able to use their response to continue the conversation constructively because their answer might reveal that their prejudice is based on an assumption or incorrect fact that you can put right.
However, you must always stay safe (emotionally and physically). If the person responds with a glib or angry answer, it might feel safer to nod and finish the conversation quickly. While you cannot change the way this person thinks on the spot, they may go away and self-analyse their comment later. Try not to become discouraged, because some people will take longer than others to understand the impacts of racism. It may also be useful for you to ‘debrief’ about these situations with like-minded people so you can better prepare for them in the future.
Racism on the bus
Please check out our infographic on how to respond if you witness racism on the bus (or any other public place). It is based on Australian research from various universities around Australia.
Australia has a culture of denial when it comes to racism. We’ve created an infographic to explain this simply. It is based on the findings in the report Denial of racism and its implication for location action by Jacqueline Nelson, University of Western Sydney, 2013.