Report reveals 'shocking' anti-Asian racism in Australia during coronavirus pandemic

Women have been the most common target of anti-Asian racism during the pandemic, a report has found.

Pedestrians wear face masks in Sydney.

Pedestrians wear face masks in Sydney. Source: AAP

A new report has laid bare the "shocking" incidents of anti-Asian racism around Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A coalition of Asian-Australian groups set up an online survey for reporting racism earlier in the pandemic, with preliminary results released on Friday.

The report found that more than 65 per cent of respondents identified as female.

"This may suggest power dynamics are at play with perpetrators stereotyping Asian females as weak and/or easy targets," the report said.

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

Forty per cent of incidents happened on a public street and 22 per cent of incidents happened in a supermarket.

While the most common type of racism experienced was in the form of racial slurs and name-calling (at 35 per cent), six per cent of reported incidents involved "physical intimidation".

In one survey response, a 19-year-old Vietnamese-Australian woman in Sydney said a perpetrator threatened her with a knife.

"[I was] told to stay away from them because I'm Asian so I have coronavirus. [I was] told that it was my people who brought the virus over here," the respondent wrote.

“[They] attempted to kick me, called me anAsian slutand an Asian dog. [They] told me to go eat a bat [and] threatened me with a knife."

And eight per cent of people said they had been spat, sneezed or coughed on as part of a racist attack since the start of the pandemic.

A racist slur spray painted on the garage door of a Chinese-Australian family in Melbourne.
Source: SBS News

The survey, which is still open, is a collaboration between the Asian Australian Alliance, Being Asian Australian and Per Capita fellow Osmond Chiu.

Erin Wen Ai Chew of the Asian Australian Alliance told SBS News while some of the responses were "shocking", they were not surprising.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has just given people more of an excuse to act on their anti-China or anti-Asian feelings," she said.

"One thing we need to understand is that this racism has been there for a very long time."

Rail passengers in Sydney.
Source: AAP

Ms Chew said it was vital to collect data like this, especially as around 90 per cent of respondents said they did not report their incident to the police.

"We hope that this type of data will help with the push to get a national anti-racism strategy ... To get these types of things you really need hard data."

The preliminary report covered April-June when the online survey received 377 responses.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at

Published 24 July 2020 at 12:56pm
By Nick Baker