Discrimination against Asian-Australians has risen during the coronavirus pandemic and there is concern it will only worsen as the country continues to open back up unless policymakers act soon.
The study, completed by Australian National University's Centre for Social Research Methods and Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership (CAAL), has found Asian-Australians have faced the highest levels of discrimination since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The findings from more than 3000 respondents show 84.5 per cent of Asian-Australians, which include those of East Asian, South East Asian, South Asian and Central Asian descent, had experienced at least one instance of discrimination between January and October 2020. It marks an increase from 82 per cent during August 2019.
The figure had actually dipped in the first few months of the year by 12.3 per cent but study co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said it was likely due to the lockdowns initially put in place, limiting the chance of discrimination occurring.
"It's kind of these two trends which are going in opposite directions," Professor Biddle said.
"One is that there is attention around a virus, which has originated in East Asia, and yet there's people not going out and not interacting with the rest of the population so in April, you find a decline in discrimination."
Professor Biddle's concern is that as the country begins to return to some normalcy, and with Melbourne restrictions easing, the figure could again rise.
"My fear is that as people start to interact in similar ways to what they did in August last year or just generally through 2020, the rates of discrimination are going to go higher than they were previously because of those potential worsening attitudes on the focus of some on the [virus' origin]," Professor Biddle said.
The survey's findings aren't all bad news. It also found Asian-Australians were more likely to be trusted at 65 per cent when compared to Anglo-Australians who came in at 55 per cent.
In addition to the COVID-19 crisis, Australia's politicians have further stoked tensions with the increasing focus on foreign interference, which largely focuses on the Chinese government.
Senator Eric Abetz recently came under for fire for demanding three Senate inquiry witnesses of Chinese descent publicly condemn the Chinese government. A number of figures, including fellow Senator Penny Wong, slammed the senator's attempts to bait the inquiry's witnesses.
It's something CAAL director and study co-author Jieh-Yung Lo said is not helpful when racism and discrimination is already at a high due to the health crisis.
"It creates a sense of division and a sense of doubt in the minds of all Australians that we, as Asian-Australians, are not part of this country, which as a matter of fact, we have been for hundreds of years," Mr Lo said.
"It does not help in a situation like what we are experiencing with the pandemic because already Asian-Australians have been experiencing a resurgence of racism and xenophobia."
The disinformation shared on social media or spoken by leading figures has also played a big part in worsening the situation and with limited outlets to counter the narrative, it's meant many claims have gone uncontested.
"Disinformation from leading political figures, like Donald Trump, has been especially damaging," Mr Lo said.
"The limited opportunities for Asian-Australians to speak publicly on mainstream platforms has been the biggest cause of impact in terms of allowing the disinformation to funnel through."
Better representation in the media as well as having more diverse leadership at boardroom tables, Mr Lo explained, is what's needed to resolve the policy gaps with the country's multicultural community. Without that, Asian-Australian voices, among others, will continue to go unheard.
"Language translation is just not enough," Mr Lo said.
"You need to build trust, you need to build that level of confidence to enable Asian-Australians and even other ethnic minority groups to participate in the public policy process and a way to do that is by having more representation."