• The offending ad campaign which was found to be racist towards non-white people. (Sydney University)Source: Sydney University
Sydney University has been found in breach of advertising rules set by the ad industry regulator.
Staff writers

22 Nov 2017 - 12:17 PM  UPDATED 22 Nov 2017 - 12:17 PM

An advertising campaign by Sydney University that depicted brown skinned people as criminals has been found to violate the advertising industry's code after an investigation by the Ad Standards Board.

The ad was featured online and on billboards and featured a pair of dark skinned hands clutching at a wire fence with the words "unlearn criminal" displayed.

It comes after an ad campaign by Boost Juice was castigated online for it's cultural appropriation of Indigenous cultures from around the world and was taken down following NITV News reports on the story last week.

The Sydney Uni ad received a complaint that stated the content was offensive to dark skinned people, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders and "discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race".

"This is offensive particularly given the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our prison system. These women make up around 34 per cent of the female prison population but only 2 per cent of the adult female population," the complainant wrote.

The Board agreed, stating in its decision that: "In the Board’s view the overall impression of the advertisement is that non Caucasian people are criminals – whether in the context of being held in gaol or in detention camps."

The Board upheld the complaint about the ad which the University said had been taken down.

However it was still live on the University's Official YouTube account. 

The University disputed the ad was racist in its submission to the Board.

"It is the University’s view that the complaint does not reflect the general public’s perception of the advertisement or of the broader campaign, which has been very well received and clearly understood. The University’s strong view is that the advertisement does not portray people or depict material in a way that discriminates against or vilifies any person or any section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, age, or any other ground, as stipulated under section 2.1 of the Code."

The University said the ad was from a United nations refugee campaign and did not depict Indigenous Australians.

"The image used is an editorial image sourced from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) depicting the hands of children in detention holding a chain-link fence, and it is intended to provoke thought regarding the way society treats children in detention."

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