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One in five Australians has experienced racism in the last 12 months according to one of the biggest ever surveys conducted on racism and prejudice in Australia, commissioned by SBS with the Western Sydney University.
On Sunday, SBS broadcast a groundbreaking hour long documentary – Is Australia Racist? presented by Ray Martin. This documentary put survey findings into action through a series of hidden camera social experiments, capturing the experience of racism through the eyes of those who have suffered it.
Professor Kevin Dunn, from Western Sydney University, led the survey of just over 6000 respondents and examined issues including attitudes to cultural differences, tolerance of specific groups and racial hierarchy.
"On the basis of this data and other data that we are facing almost a national calamity in terms of what is called Islamophobia. Do you know, 60 per cent of people in the survey said they'd be concerned if one of their relatives were to marry someone of Muslim background. That's a very high level of concern towards that particular group," he said.
Here are some of the most stunning findings of the survey.
- 31.6% of respondents claimed to have ‘negative’ feelings towards Muslim Australians, 22.4% claimed to have ‘negative’ feelings towards Middle-‐Eastern Australians while only 9% had negative feelings towards Aboriginal Australians.
- 36.4% believe the number of immigrants accepted into Australia is too high or much too high.
- 41.1% believe Australia is weakened by people of different ethnicities sticking to their old ways.
- 20.5% believe that African refugees increase crime in Australia. Men and older participants were more likely to believe that African refugees increase crime.
- 32% of respondents reported having experienced racism within their workplace. 32% of respondents reported having experience racism within an educational facility.
- Those who belong to a Language Other Than English (LOTE) background reported the highest rates of workplace racism (54.1%) and racism within various educational institutions (55.8%).
- The experience of racism on public transport or in the street was the highest at 34.1 per cent, followed by at a shop or shopping centre at 32.2 per cent. Online experiences of racism were also quite high at 28.2 per cent.
- Those of LOTE background experienced the highest rates of discrimination in shops/shopping centres (56.9%), on public transport or in the street (58.2%), and online (49.1%).
- 48.6% believe people from racial, ethnic, cultural and religious minorities groups should behave more like mainstream Australians.
- 54.4% of respondents agreed that Australia should help refugees fleeing persecution in their homeland.43% believe that all boats carrying asylum seekers should be turned back.
Professor Dunn says the survey shines a light on issues that deserve attention too. Like there were some really positive outcomes on questions regarding cultural diversity.
"Some of the hopeful findings in our survey are that 80 per cent of Australians see cultural diversity as a really positive thing, so that's a great finding and by the same token about the same proportion, 80 per cent, acknowledge there's a problem with racism. And the same proportion again say something should be done about racism. So there's strong community, strong public support for action against racism, the racism which is unfairly distributed across the ethnic groups in our country," he said.
Have you faced racism in Australia? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experience.
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Tune in to Face Up To Racism #FU2Racism season, airing from Sunday 26 February to Sunday 5 March on SBS. Programs include: Is Australia Racist? (airs on Sunday 26 February at 8.30pm), Date My Race (airs Monday 27 February at 8.30pm) and The Truth About Racism (airs Wednesday 1 March at 8.30pm).
Watch all the documentaries online after they air on SBS On Demand. and watch Is Australia Racist? below: