Aust 'not ready' for African refugees

The biggest survey of people's experiences of Australian life has found African immigrants experience much more discrimination than any other group.

Sudanese refugees Mary Thuch and her son Khamis in Brisbane

A new survey has found Australia may not have been prepared for an influx of immigrants from Africa. (AAP)

Australia often prides itself on its multiculturalism but may not have been prepared for an influx of immigrants from South Sudan and other African countries.

African immigrants experience up to five times more racial discrimination than people born here, a new survey from the Scanlon Foundation reports.

"It's pretty clear that Australia as a society was not ready for very dark skinned people coming," report author Andrew Markus told AAP.

More than three in four South Sudanese migrants - most of whom have arrived as humanitarian refugees - say they have experienced discrimination.

This often takes the form of property damage or physical attacks, unfair treatment at work or being denied jobs, but Professor Markus says experiences can also be more insidious, everyday occurrences.

"For example, a bus doesn't stop and a second bus doesn't stop and a third bus doesn't stop," he said.

"Or someone gets on the bus and the bus driver takes off before the person is seated."

South Sudanese immigrants were also much less likely to trust police compared with Australian-born residents.

The Australians Today survey, released on Wednesday by the Scanlon Foundation and Monash University, highlights the experiences of more than 10,000 people across 20 languages.

It found the majority of Australians supported the immigration program, although when asked what they like least about the country nearly one in five said there was too much migration.

Almost a quarter said had they negative feelings towards Muslims - much higher than for Christians and Buddhists.

Similarly, nearly one in four people had negative feelings about immigrants from Iraq and Lebanon while about one in 10 were negative towards those from Vietnam or China.

Among Muslims who responded to the survey, there was a sense of deteriorating relations, Prof Markus said.

Many saw Australia as a place of opportunity and freedom but were critical of the wider community and media lumping all Muslims together when they were in fact quite a diverse group.

"There's a minority within the Muslim community who are not happy campers, who aren't comfortable with the secular society, but that's very much a minority," Prof Markus said.

2 min read
Published 24 August 2016 at 7:02am
Source: AAP