Australia’s relationship with race(ism), and diversity

By Cheryl Shang, Bachelor of Global Business


Since the colonisation of Australia by the British Empire, racism in Australia was born. From the introduction of discriminatory laws towards the Indigenous Australians to the White Australia Policy, it is undeniable that Australia was once an extremely racist country.

As more and more immigrants step foot into Australia, the sharing of cultures, the country has significantly improved its acceptance of diversity throughout the years. According to the Department of Home Affairs, “Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world” (Multicultural Australia, n.d.) with 29.8% of the population born overseas (Migration, Australia, 2021). Australia has successfully welcomed and embraced its different ethnicities, cultures, languages, etc.



Growing up in Parramatta, a very culturally diverse suburb, which we learnt through GLP Cultural Day, I was surrounded by people who looked like me I grew up surrounded by people of different ethnicities and cultures, thus I never felt different or out of place. I have always stayed in my little social bubble and hence I am fortunate to say I rarely experienced racism. I am extremely grateful to have grown up and live in such a culturally diverse environment, having the opportunity to learn about other cultures, eat delicious cuisines and experience the various festivals.


Named as the most multicultural country, does Australia rive up to its label? Have we conquered racism?

Australia without a doubt has come a long way. With generally peaceful and safe communities where people from multiple cultures, races, and faiths coexist in relative harmony (Gershevitch, 2010). Australia has learnt to embrace multiculturalism, but have we eradicated racism? There has been a rise in racism towards Asian Australians due to COVID-19 and its variants. While researching this topic, I came across an article reporting the under-representation of the true extent of COVID-related racism (Kamp et al., 2021). As a fellow Asian Australian, it was disheartening to read that Asian Australians weren’t reporting racism as they believed that the incident would be ignored. I 100% agree with them, as many incidents of Anti-Asian Hate have often been ignored or dismissed.



Additionally, at the beginning of the pandemic, as someone who rarely experienced racism, I could not help feeling uncomfortable and slightly scared when in public, after seeing so many recent Asian hate cases, I was honestly worried that I could become a victim of Asian hate. Unfortunately, I was not the only one who felt this way as a survey showed that a large majority of participants (who are Asian) who hadn’t experienced racism during the pandemic “directly still had some anticipation (on a scale of rarely to very often) of someone saying or doing something racist” (Kamp et al., 2021).


During times like this, we need to stand together and fight against racism. The recent Stop Asian Hate campaign has shed some light on this ongoing issue as it has successfully circulated throughout social media. Through this campaign, it can be seen that communities coming together to speak up and fight racism can make a difference.

In conclusion, Australia’s relationship with racism has come a long way, every day Australia is becoming more and more culturally diverse. Unfortunately, racism is still a prevalent issue that we need to give attention to and take action to eliminate.


References:

Gershevitch, C., 2010. Racism in Australia: Is Denial Still Plausible?. Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, 3(2), pp. 229–250.

Kamp, A., Dunn, K., Vergani, M., Denson, N. and Sharples, R., 2021. ‘I don’t think the police would do much’: new research shows racism during COVID is rarely reported. [online] The Conversation. Available at: <https://theconversation.com/i-dont-think-the-police-would-do-much-new-research-shows-racism-during-covid-is-rarely-reported-165312>.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2021. Migration, Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/migration-australia/latest-release#:~:text=In%202020%2C%20there%20were%20over,in%20Australia's%20population%20in%202020.>.

Homeaffairs.gov.au. n.d. Multicultural Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/mca/Statements/english-multicultural-statement.pdf>.