• Ray Martin, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Santilla Chingaipe - hosts of the documentaries featured in SBS's Face Up To Racism week. (SBS)Source: SBS
A week of programs exploring racism and prejudice starts 26 February on SBS.
SBS Staff

1 Feb 2017 - 6:45 PM  UPDATED 20 Feb 2017 - 4:48 PM

One in five Australians have experienced racism in the last 12 months according to one of the biggest ever surveys conducted on racism and prejudice in Australia, commissioned by SBS with the Western Sydney University*.

The survey was undertaken for a new SBS documentary, Is Australia Racist?, one of a number of programs to be shown on SBS from Sunday 26 February to Sunday 5 March as a part of Face Up To Racism week – a week during which SBS will explore, expand and challenge Australia’s understanding of racism and prejudice today.

What the survey taught us

- Nearly a third of those surveyed said they experienced racism within their workplace.

- 35% said they have experienced racism on public transport or on the street.

- Almost a third said they have experienced racism within an educational facility.

- Nearly half of Indigenous respondents said they experienced racism at sporting events.

However, most people surveyed agreed that it is a positive thing that Australia be made up of different cultures – and that they would face up to discrimination in society if they encountered it.

Ray Martin asks: Is Australia Racist?

Face Up To Racism week begins on SBS on Sunday 26 February at 8.30pm with Ray Martin investigating the question: Is Australia Racist? This one hour documentary puts the survey findings from Western Sydney University into action through a series of hidden camera social experiments, capturing the experience of racism through the eyes of those who have suffered it. 

The results are at times confronting, but Is Australia Racist? also reveals inspiring Australians facing up to racism and standing up when witnessing discrimination.

How does race factor into dating?

On Monday 27 February at 8.30pm on SBS, Date My Race explores the role race plays in finding love, and reveals Australia’s surprising patterns when it comes to online dating and racial preferences.

It’s a personal theme for 30 year old African-Australian journalist and host Santilla Chingaipe, who is on the hunt for love. With a smorgasbord of potential mates a swipe away, she is having little luck with online dating, and wonders if it is the colour of her skin that is sabotaging her chances.

This playful, surprising and often funny look at modern dating will challenge Australians to think about what drives their own romantic attraction and connection, asking the question: when looking for love, does having racial preferences amount to racism?

The science of racism

On Wednesday 1 March at 8.30pm, The Truth About Racism uses science to challenge the way we think about racism. Scientists have made breakthroughs in understanding the neuroscience behind racism, and can now detect unconscious racial bias in the brain.

Host Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a Sudanese-born Muslim-Australian, along with four volunteers from different ethnic backgrounds, undergo a series of scientific psychological tests during the documentary, including experiments involving facial recognition, empathy and pain, and split second fear responses to try and find out if racial bias is inevitable, if it can be consciously overridden, and if brains can even be re-trained.

Insight tackles cultural sensitivity

In addition to these three new documentaries, SBS’s flagship news and current affairs program Insight will explore the subject of cultural sensitivity in a special program on Tuesday 28 February from 8.30pm.

Recent calls to change the date on which we celebrate Australia Day, and questions around whether or not the word ‘Christmas’ should be featured on public banners, are just some topics that have recently prompted national debate. Insight asks if as a multicultural nation, Australia has a responsibility to allow migrants to continue their cultural practices, how should we navigate what causes offence to certain cultural groups, and how far should we go when considering cultural sensitivity.

These challenging new programs will be supported for the entire week by a range of other stories, discussions and programs exploring race and prejudice across the SBS network, including through SBS news and current affairs, across SBS Radio, and on SBS VICELAND, NITV and SBS On Demand, as well as online. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

Face Up to Racism schools resource

SBS Learn has partnered with the NSW Department of Education to produce a schools resource linked to the upcoming ‘Face Up to Racism Week’ on SBS. Jan Fran from The Feed will meet up with the talented Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa to learn how to face up to racism through the art of spoken word poetry. High school students can join in by watching clips from the series and online video tutorials before sharing their own poems with SBS. The resources will be linked to the English and Arts curriculums and will be available here from March 1st 2017.

The schedule

Sunday 26 February
8:30pm Is Australia Racist - SBS
9:30pm Where To Invade Next - SBS
9:30pm Hate Thy Neighbour - SBS VICELAND
9:30pm 12 Years a Slave - NITV

Monday 27 February
8:30pm Date My Race - SBS
9:30pm Awaken - NITV

Tuesday 28 February
8:30pm Insight - SBS
9:30pm Dateline - SBS
9:30pm Atlanta - SBS VICELAND

Wednesday 1 March
8:30pm The Truth About Racism - SBS
8:30pm Scottsboro: An American Tragedy - NITV

Saturday 4 March
8:30pm Borat - SBS
8:30pm Fruitvale Station - SBS VICELAND


Join the conversation on social media: #FU2Racism.


The ‘Is Australia Racist?’ survey was conducted by Professor Kevin Dunn at Western Sydney University. An online survey, using a commercial survey provider, of a total of 6001 Australians examined attitudes to cultural difference, tolerance of specific groups, ideology of nation, perceptions of Anglo-Celtic privilege, belief in racism, racial separatism and racial hierarchy, and experiences of racism.

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