Indigenous Australians most harassed in the workplace: study


Indigenous Australians experience the greatest amount of discrimination in the workplace, according to a nationwide survey.

Thirty-eight per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian workers experienced discrimination or harassment over the past year, a survey by non-profit organisation Diversity Council Australia has found.

Indigenous people only comprise 2.8 per cent of the total population yet they experience a greater level of disadvantage compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.

This year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's report to parliament indicated the federal government was not on track to meet six of the seven targets in its 'Closing the Gap' initiative. 

Dr Jackie Huggins AM, the co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, told SBS News: "To create a harmonious society, free of racial discrimination, we need to talk about these very issues that hold us back.

"The onus is on wider Australia to truly come to terms with the history and culture of Indigenous Australians.

"Australia hasn't come to terms with the true history of our country and what has been done."

Indigenous Australians have experienced disadvantage since European settlement in 1788 including the 'White Australia' policies in the 20th century, where the government forcibly removed Indigenous children with one non-Indigenous or mixed heritage parent to European foster families to assimilate them to the Anglo-Saxon way of life.

Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese told SBS News that workplaces must listen to Indigenous people more to help stop discrimination.

"The concept of self-determination is the most critical concept for a people who have been voiceless for so long," she said.

The 'Inclusion@Work Index' found people living with a disability followed closely behind Indigenous Australians, with 34 per cent reporting discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

One in five Australian workers surveyed said they had experienced discrimination or harassment in the last year.

Twenty-four per cent of people from culturally diverse backgrounds said they had experienced some form of discrimination. 

Indigenous Australians reported to most workplace harassment in the last year.
Indigenous Australians reported to most workplace harassment in the last year.

The study, which surveyed 3,000 Australian workers, found that inclusive teams were 10 times more likely to be highly effective and nine times more likely to innovate.

Ms Annese said the survey found there was a high level of support for inclusion in Australian workplaces.

Seventy-five per cent of people were in support, or strong support, of inclusion programs.

"Despite these benefits, we found that people who don’t belong to a particular minority or diversity group, such as men from Anglo-cultural backgrounds and older men, are less supportive of inclusion programs,” Ms Annese said.

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