Two Fifths of Migrants Experience Racism

An Australian study by philosophy Professor Andrew Markus finds that 40% of migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds have been subject to racism. This is an increase of 19% from six years a go. The sample included a random, nationally representative sample of 1,200 people, but the broader project includes five national surveys with a combined sample of 10,000 people. The groups who reported the highest level of abuse include: people from Malaysia (45%), India and Sri Lanka (42%), Singapore (41%), Indonesia (39%), and China and Hong Kong (39%). The national average for experiences of racism was 12%.

While a high proportion of migrants take pride on the Australian way of life (87%), the proportion of migrants feeling a strong affinity to their Australian identity has dropped by 10% to 65%. Not surprising, given the rise in racial discrimination. Trust in individuals and Government were relatively low, with less than half the participants reporting civic trust, although a similar proportion of people contribute to civic participation through volunteering.

Despite the high experiences of racism, 84% of all the participants believe multiculturalism is important.

The report raises important policy issues, such as the need to address discrimination through strong anti-racism strategies, and a stronger focus on increasing civic trust and participation.

Similarly, the 2002 sociological study by Ien Ang and colleagues, ‘Connecting Diversity,’ finds that Anglo Australians feel free to take parts of minority cultures that they like, such as food and music, but they are uneasily about other aspects of multiculturalism that relate to integrating diversity. This includes expanding our national identity to include Indigenous Australians, migrants of non-English-speaking backgrounds, and being more inclusive of asylum seekers. While White-Australians feel free to play around with parts of “exotic” cultures, minorities report feeling excluded from Australian culture. In this sense, cultural play is only one way.

Photo: DIBP images via Flickr.

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