Anyone can experience racist behaviour, such as being abused because of the colour of your skin. It's never okay, even as a one-off incident. And it's even worse for people who experience it frequently, many of whom also experience discrimination1 in other areas of their lives.
Groups that regularly experience racism include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from culturally diverse backgrounds. They also often have to deal with systemic discrimination, which limits their access to the same opportunities and resources as many people from Anglo-Australian backgrounds.2
– Kath, 50
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
– Greg, 35
A survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria found that 97 per cent had experienced racism within the last year.3 Two out of every three people had experienced eight or more incidences a year.4 Imagine the impact that would have on you, your family and your community.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also still dealing with the effects of past laws and government policies which resulted in them being removed to missions and reserves or taken away from their families.
These laws and policies have caused huge amounts of hurt and pain for individuals, families and communities, which shows up in lots of different ways - poor health, high rates of mental illness and family breakdowns.
In many cases this disadvantage has been passed from one generation to the next, meaning that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today miss out on the opportunities that other Australians take for granted.
Migrants and refugees
- Chidike, 27
Many migrants and refugees also regularly experience racism, but not all in the same way. Their experiences are often shaped by when they came to Australia and where they have come from.
Migrants and refugees who have recently arrived in Australia — especially those whose skin colour, speech or dress is different than we're used to — are more likely to be targets of racism.
For example, research has found that we are more accepting of migrants from countries with a long history of migration to Australia, such as Italy and Greece, and that we tend to feel more negative towards "newer" groups of migrants from the Middle East and African countries.5
Media reports and commentary that use negative stereotypes about refugees and new migrants can fuel prejudice against these groups in the wider community.
And these attitudes can make it very difficult for new arrivals to find housing and jobs, and to feel connected to their communities.
- Kgosi, 19
1Discrimination is when a person is treated unfairly compared to someone else in the same situation because of a particular characteristic, such as their race, sex, age or disability. For example, it would be discrimination if security in a store only stops people from a particular racial background to check their bags.
2See "What is racism" factsheet for definition of systemic racism.
3VicHealth, Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Victorian Aboriginal communities (2012), p2. At http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/Publications/Freedom-from-discrimination...
5A Markus, Mapping Social Cohesion 2011: the Scanlon Foundation Survey (2012), p3.
Who experiences racism? (PDF)
Who experiences racism? (Word)