Racism is discrimination or abusive behaviour towards another race or religion. Australia is a very young multicultural country where at hand is strong evidence to suggest that Australia is racist, and in contrast there are many examples that support this questions that we humans beings can live in peace and harmony with all Australians.
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Some possible causes of racism can be of an institutional racism, which means that a group of people have the same faith about a certain type of person. Racism can be from the past and what people of many different generations express to others about it which follows to be a stereo type of a group of people, such as Germany and the Jews. Many people may think because Hitler was German that all Germans were and always will be bad. At times we hear parents and grandparents being racist based on their opinions on world events such as September 11.
This created hatred and anti-Muslim feelings in the general public. In Australia Muslim leaders spoke through the media condemning the attack as many Australians started to form racist opinions about all Middle Easterners. This is an example of indirect racism based on stereo typing. Sometimes racism may simply be caused by ignorance and judgment formed through a lack of knowledge and information. This may be considered unjust and unfair because people are judging based on a stereotype.
Professor of Geography from the University of Western Sydney says that “Australians arnt dealing with ‘cultural diversity’ properly and are being racist and disrespectful to those whom are from a completely different culture and the government need to do more to manage this issue. Another example of racism was when Dr Hanif was deported for suspected links to terrorism. Other stereotypical attitudes present amongst Australians include, Asians are bad drivers, Aboriginals are lazy and a burden on society, Middle easterners are fighters and the French are arrogant.
The Cronulla riots of 2005, was an example of mob violence and interracial racism between the Lebanese and local Anglo youth to “reclaim the beach” and to move out of their suburbs. Another resent development is the racism towards Indian students studying in Australia. People assume that they are taking study places and jobs from Australian’s when they are often wealthy, self-supporting and not necessarily a true representation of all people from their country.
They are often being targeted by groups within Australia for their display of wealth (I-pod etc) Racism will continue because of general comments by the public and the influences of the media. For example 9/11 has made our world a place of heightened security, awareness and nervousness particularly as we relate to members of different cultures . Sometimes discussions between people’s opinions can instill racism in younger generations. Media sources such as the news and the internet can be covering stories in ways that present bias towards a group or race and this can also cause racism.
The government’s inactions to take a stand against racism may also contribute to racism continuing. Surely the government with its intake of migrants and refugees needs to take a greater look at how to encourage communities to live more harmoniously. One example, in which the Government does promote diversity and acceptance, is through an annual initiative called Harmony Day. On March 21st, 2010, schools, communities groups and organisations celebrated our cultural diversity to show that everyone belongs. Another community effort raising cultural awareness was the Indian concert by A. R. Rahman which was organised as part of the Sydney Festival in Parramatta last year.
The event was part of a wider initiative of the New South Wales Government to ease relations between the country’s significant Indian population and the wider Australian community. According to the Indian Local, (January 17th 2010) Cricketer Matthew Hayden interviewed members of the audience during breaks. “The thing to remember is that we are all the same inside,” said a young man he spoke to. This is a very important statement because it could actually be the key to preventing further racism.
If all Australians could believe this way, we would live in a more peaceful society. Many would argue that Australia, with its large population of overseas born people is a non racist nation. We have suburbs in Sydney which delight all cultures and signify multiculturalism at its best. The Italian’s in Leichardt, Lebanese in Auburn/Bankstown, and Chinese in Cabramatta and Chinatown in the city. Governments and local councils might encourage festivals and awareness through entertainment and local media e. g. Chinese New Year festivals. This is a display which shows that Australian’s are indeed quite accepting of other races.
Governing policies such as the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act (1975) aim to ensure that “everyone is treated equally, regardless of their race, colour, descent or nationality or ethnic origin”. According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship we are processing applications for asylum seekers from war torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The Asylum Seeker Assistance Program is a scheme that has been set up by the government to assist these people with income support, and advice as they wait to gain refugee status.
This is an example of how the government is accepting and supportive of new migrants in our country. Similarly the Rudd government showed compassion to the Aborigines when we “Closed the Gap” in 2008 by apologizing publicly to the Aboriginals for mistreatment of them by our country. This public recognition of unfair and unjust treatment shows a willingness to be a non racist country in the eyes of many Australians. So, is Australia a racist country? It is evident that Australia’s growing population of migrants will continue.
With this growth it is hard to predict that racism will cease. However, the need to reinforce that all humans have feelings and have rights will be the answer to stopping racism. We need help from the government, media and leaders in our society to breakdown institutional racism. We need to take a more collaborative approach as Australians and as members of the global community
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