Survey points to race discrimination increase
A researcher who looks at Australian attitudes to immigration sheds light on a recent survey which suggests the country is perceived as more racist than it has been in the past.PT0M0S 620 349
Australians are no longer just a weird mob - they are also seen as racist and discriminatory, a survey of new migrants says.
Asked to nominate what they ''least like'' about Australia, racism and discrimination was listed among migrants' chief concerns.
Those from non-English speaking backgrounds were almost twice as likely to report suffering discrimination than those from English-speaking countries.
Background a factor: Migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds were almost twice as likely to report discrimination in Australia. Photo: Ross Duncan
People from India or Sri Lanka were most likely to list prejudice as the least desirable aspect of Australians but a significant number of New Zealanders also complained of discrimination.
The Monash University study found many migrants fear walking alone at night or being a victim of crime.
The survey, to be released on Monday, is the latest in a series, Mapping Social Cohesion, funded by the Scanlon Foundation and the federal government. It is the first to allow researchers to compare the experience of recent migrants with the wider Australian population.
The survey shows migrants who have arrived in Australia over the past two decades often feel singled out because of their skin colour or faith and report a disturbing lack of trust, both in other people and political institutions compared with the rest of the population.
They are less likely to be politically engaged, despite been regularly tuned to news and current affairs in their new home.
Findings about the national character appear most stark. Asked what they ''most like'' about Australia, barely 3 per cent of recent migrants describe Australians as ''caring, friendly, hospitable'', a dramatic drop from similar surveys in the 1990s. But the latest findings also point to migrants' general satisfaction with their new home and the quality of services.
The study found migrants no longer experience isolation as in decades past. Technology, cheap airfares and geographic proximity keep recent arrivals connected with friends and family.
People from China and India are also far more likely to adopt Australian citizenship than those from Britain or North America.
Chinese-born Ming Liu, who moved to Melbourne from Beijing in 2006 as a confessed sports lover, said he had not suffered discrimination living in Australia.
But he said cultural misunderstandings did occur and could be taken ''too seriously''.
He played Australian rules after joining a club to make friends, had a baby girl, Anabelle, and recently joined the 94 per cent of Chinese-born migrants to Australia with at least a decade of residence who have become citizens. This compares with 71 per cent of those from Britain, 70 per cent of those from North America and 45 per cent of those from New Zealand.
Migration rates have doubled from the 1990s, shifting from an emphasis on family unification to job skills.
As the government prepares to strike down part of the Racial Discrimination Act, study author Andrew Markus said the findings showed recent migrants had continuing issues with discrimination.
''More than 40 per cent of recent arrivals from a number of Asian countries report experience of discrimination over the last 12 months,'' he said. ''The issue for government is the message that will be conveyed by possible changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.''
WHAT THEY THINK *
‘‘Australians are caring, friendly, hospitable people.’’
India & Sri Lanka – 4%
Britain – 3%
US and Canada – 7%
New Zealand – 1 %
*Migrants who arrived between 2000 and 2010