People in Australia experiencing anti-Asian racism during coronavirus pandemic urged to speak out

A new tool has been launched to report anti-Asian racism in Australia during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a spike in racism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a spike in racist incidents. Source: AAP

People who experience anti-Asian racism in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic are being urged to share their stories.

This week, a group of concerned Asian-Australians launched a new survey where these incidents can be reported.

The project is a collaboration between the Asian Australian Alliance, Being Asian Australian and Per Capita fellow Osmond Chiu.

"There has been a spike in racism coming out of this COVID-19 situation. It started as soon as the first headlines sensationalised how this was all China's fault," project co-organiser Erin Chew told SBS News.

Ms Chew said in addition to several incidents of racism reported to the police, there have been many more unreported incidents against Chinese-Australians and people with Asian heritage more broadly.

She said the early results of the survey have been worrying.

"People reported receiving messages on social media, telling them to stop eating dogs and bats ... And there's been lots of casual racial slurs on the streets," Ms Chew said.

She said results will be used to see just how severe and widespread the racism is.

A link to the survey has been shared by hundreds of people, including Labor's multicultural affairs spokesperson, Andrew Giles.

But soon after he posted it to Twitter, a Facebook account called St Kilda Liberals put out a post of its own with Mr Giles and other Labor politicians in front of a Chinese flag, accusing them of "putting China first".

"This invokes more fear and racism ... and we all receive this racial backlash," Ms Chew said.

The post from St Kilda Liberals.
The post from St Kilda Liberals. Source: Facebook

Ms Chew said she was "not surprised at all" that people from Asian backgrounds have been experiencing racism.

"This is something that has been bubbling in Australia for decades, even centuries," she said, citing the 'yellow peril' and White Australia policy.

"Coronavirus has enabled and given an excuse for people to be racist.

"And sadly, there is a lot of ignorance [in Australia] that every person who looks Chinese is from mainland China."

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, footage has been shared on social media of some Australians appearing to target people with Asian heritage.

This week, a teenage girl was charged after she allegedly screamed racist abuse and spat on two people in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville.

She allegedly accused them of "bringing coronavirus to Australia".

"Our law enforcement and our laws need to start to labelling these things as hate crimes," Ms Chew said.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at 

3 min read
Published 3 April 2020 at 1:08pm
By Nick Baker
Source: SBS