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Most Australians say racism is a 'very big' problem: Scanlon Foundation

low angle view of african american man with scarf on face holding placard with racism is a pandemic lettering against blue sky Source: iStockphoto

The survey covers a range of issues affecting Australia's multicultural society, including immigration, cultural diversity and discrimination. One key finding highlights a shift in response to the question, ‘how big a problem is racism in Australia?’ Last year, 40 per cent of people said it was a ‘very big’ or ‘fairly big problem'. This year that figure has jumped to 60 per cent of participants.

Professor of sociology at the University of Melbourne Karen Farquharson says while it is an alarming figure, she’s not completely shocked by it.

“Because the Black Lives Matter movement came to Australia, because there’s been a great deal of attention to Aboriginal deaths in custody—it’s a continuing issue that is very, very problematic. And also because of the anti-Asian racism around COVID.  Anecdotally we’ve heard of people being harassed on the street that wouldn’t have been harassed on the street before COVID.”

The Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia , Mary Patetsos, says they have seen more prevalent reporting of racist instances throughout the pandemic.

"We are seeing increased numbers of people who contact us knowing that what they're experiencing is improper and they want to do something about it. They feel very hurt about it and are quite scared so they are seeking information and also want a sympathetic ear."

But despite a year largely characterised by the pandemic - when asked about the future, most people are optimistic. 

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to the feature in Punjabi.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://www.sbs.com.au/language/coronavirus

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