A quarter of all Australians experience discrimination on a weekly basis, report finds


A report has found nearly one in four Australians have experienced major discrimination, from being overlooked for a job to refusal of a bank loan.

Almost one in four Australians has experienced major discrimination, from being overlooked for a job to being refused a bank loan.

That's the startling feedback from 6000 Australians surveyed about their attitudes to social inclusion.

Name-calling and being shown a lack of respect happens to a quarter of Australians at least weekly, researchers at BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University, revealed in a report released on Monday.

Religious and racial minorities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are most likely to be in the firing line of the discrimination.

In fact, BehaviourWorks Australia professor Liam Smith said the research found that 25 per cent of Australians expressed prejudice towards Indigenous people.

"Particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, they were one particular group that had higher levels of prejudice towards them," he said.

"We measured prejudice by using a pretty validated scale, it has been around for a long time and has been used a lot in trying to measure subtle prejudice.

"It asks questions like 'most politicians care too much about - insert minority group here - and in this case it was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community."

The report was released on Monday.
The report was released on Monday.

Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) CEO Mohammad Al-Khafaji said in order to end this discrimination, there needs to be more investment in programs that promote understanding.

"Prejudice and discrimination comes from - sadly - ignorance," he said.

"I think for a country that prides itself on being one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world we need to do better in making sure that we facilitate opportunities for people to meet and to understand each others' differences.

"I think once we do that we quickly realise that there is a lot more in common than there are differences."

Research co-author Dr Kun Zhao said the findings aren't all bad, with a third of the surveyed Australians willing to volunteer to help disadvantaged and minority groups, and half saying they would intervene to stop discrimination when they see it.

"One of the most promising findings to come out of the research is that people are quite willing to take action to support social inclusion," Dr Zhao said.

"We asked people their willingness to volunteer their time to help people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, to ensure equality across Australia.

"A lot of people were quite willing to carry out these types of behaviours, so volunteering, helping out, giving up their time to help people from different groups."

The index scores out of 100 on five key measures, with Australia notching up a total of 62.

The social inclusion index is the nation's first.

Professor Smith said it measured "ingrained attitudes and behaviours" towards people of different backgrounds, views and circumstances.

Research fellow Nick Faulkner said the findings revealed there were substantial challenges for the nation to overcome to ensure all Australians felt included.

"Reducing prejudice, creating more opportunities for inter-group contact and friendship, and building minority groups' sense of wellbeing are some of the challenges we need to address," Dr Faulkner said.

"With discrimination being linked to reduced health and wellbeing, and harming the extent to which people feel part of the Australian community, it's important that initiatives are developed to progress social inclusion in Australia."

Mr Al-Khafaji said he also hopes the report prompts action.

"There are wonderful programs in the community out there, many of them are unfunded and unsustainable," he said.

"I hope that this report is a good tool and good measure for our politicians and our political leaders to realise that there is an investment that needs to be done in the community in these programs.

"I hope that there is some substantial funding in community social cohesion building programs."

The report draws upon three waves of survey data collected between 2017 and 2018.

Additional reporting: AAP

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