Is Australia Racist? Racism in Australia…

It’s a question that isn’t easy for me to answer, being as I have a colour of skin that could easily pass for Australian. It’s only when I open my mouth and my thick Essex accent comes to the fore that anyone would discover that I’m actually English, or, as we are sometimes called here, a Pom.

A guy called John Oliver, the presenter of American TV programme “The Daily Show” thinks we are. He said so on his programme just the other day, although it is a satirical current affairs show, so maybe he’s just saying these things for a laugh, who knows?

Either way, he has described Australia as “comfortably racist“, or to quote him in full “Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I’ve ever been in. They’ve really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper.

I listened to the recording, so I heard how he delivered his comments and you can too over at the Sydney Morning Herald. It was delivered with some humour, but is it a serious point, is Australia really racist?

racismLNP Multicultural Affairs Minister Glen Elmes just today said that Queensland, in particular, is a very inclusive state.

Refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Congo, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan have settled in Queensland,” he said and you can read more on that one in the Courier Mail.

So, what’s the truth?

Some time early in 2011, the University of Western Sydney completed a massive study which took 12 years to do and surveyed more than 12,000 people. You can read about their findings on the university’s Challenging Racism page of their website.

If you search for “is Australia racist” on the web, you will find various claims, such as “One in ten Australians is racist”. That one is based on the survey’s finding “Eighty-seven percent like cultural diversity, they see the benefit of it.” That means that 12% don’t, hence the one in 10 quote.

Elsewhere I saw it mentioned that almost half Australians are racist, this one is based on the finding that Anti-Muslim sentiment was running at 48.6 per cent.

Yet on Australia day of this year, this country welcomed a record new number of citizens. Queensland held the biggest ceremony, with almost 5000 new citizens from 120 different countries. 25% of Australia’s population are immigrants; Australia is A Nation of Immigrants.

If Australia is a racist country, it has a strange way of showing it. Personally, I have never witnessed any racial incidents here, but, of course, I know some ugly things have and will continue to happen. Surely there isn’t a country in the world that doesn’t have “some” racism? Every country has its idiots.

The debate over whether Australia is racist is well documented online, not really much more that I can add.

Except…

The view from an Indian migrant

A few weeks ago I got a couple of emails, both on the same day and both from people who have moved here from India. One was struggling to get a job and felt racism was at play. The other was from somebody just thanking me for running this website and saying how much he was enjoying his life here.

I replied to both of them, but to the second I mentioned the experiences of the first and asked “Do you think there is racism in Australia?

Here is his answer, which he has given me full permission to print…

Hi Bob

There is DEFINITELY NO Racism in Australia, but a lot of newcomers from Asia feel there is racism until they find a good paying job, a group of friends and most important they feel they are part of the Australian Community. But unfortunately all this takes TIME, and it is during this gap (we could term it the ‘gestation’ period) the human mind develops some negative traits, and the first one that comes is of being treated unfairly.

Let me tell you frankly, I have lived all my 56 years in India and 3 years in Australia. I have felt that the last 3 years spent in Australia are the ones where I have been treated fairly according to my capabilities and skills. I cannot say the say of my time in India, being treated unfairly is part of every Indian’s life every day in all spheres of life. The rich, the affluent, the politicians, the government officials, every one gets a preferential treatment, a humble hard working citizen is not treated on the same level.

So, I would suggest to those who move to live here to have patience and study how they could integrate into this society at the earliest, so that those around them will feel comfortable and lend a willing hand towards their problems. This convince them of the absence of Racism.

To tell you my story in short, I teach Iyengar Yoga (I am a Certified Teacher) and most of my students (rather 95%) are white Aussies. They have given me opportunity and encouraged me to be part of this beautiful multicultural society, where everyone gets treated equally in all spheres, everywhere.

Thanks for your time mate.

Good day.

Chandru Melwani

C H E E R S

……………….

Sound advice, I reckon, for anybody looking to move here and concerned about possible racism. I don’t fully agree with Chandru, as I said earlier, I don’t think there’s a country in the world that has NO racism, but it was interesting to hear his views about being treated fairly, something he didn’t feel happened to him in India but does happen here in Australia.

Well, here in Australia, “a fair go” is one of our catchphrases.

What’s your view? Do you think Australia is racist? Please feel free to comment below, but do make sure you abide by my comment policy. Over to you…

Visa Assessment Service

 

britannia60x468
{ 241 comments… add one }
  • Joyce June 9, 2013, 11:13 am | Link

    I’ve been watching this post for a good week or 2, possibly longer, i didn’t bother actually counting and whilst reading all the comments i couldn’t help but notice how every single comment is filled with self righteous intent and “advice”. Do not misinterpret my naming it as “self righteous” an insult, i mean it well, in some sorts. As much as i mean it well i also mean it not so. (I also need to note that whatever i say (type) i do it as i were calmly talking with whoever reads this face to face. I point no fingers nor make accusations, simply examples or comparison.)
    Vague and cryptic, i know. But from my perspective i can’t agree with any of you.
    Example: Some are dog people, some are cat people, does that make them racist towards either animal? Some are favourable to rock music, some are favourable to classic, does that make them racist to either genre? Some believe in Buddha, some believe in Christ, does that make them racist to either belief?
    My answer would be: no. As i am (pretty) sure, you will all agree on as well.
    It all depends on how either person of different likings will respond to the “opposition”.
    Actions is what defines this concept. Per another example: I might not understand the Aboriginals way of life yet i have no reason to treat this person any different from my next door neighbour. But what if i simply do not like this person because i do not get along with him/her? does that then all of a sudden make me racist ? only if my actions reflect that.

    I am no expert on the Aboriginal subject nor do i claim to be. But from what i’ve been taught the first original Australians were cast out here because they were convicts, unwanted in the UK.
    As much as they were unwanted there, they were unwanted here. They tried to make a home for themselves and overshadowed the Aboriginals. In both their minds they were the “first”. Instead of fight, they should of tried to coexist, now history has it’s mark that never happened but it is what they are -trying- now. That’s all one can do, try.

    Governmental rules and regulations are put through, now a days, without referendum. In my eyes that does not make the “average Joe” racist. Average Joe’s actions however, do.
    Every individual will have their own experience on racism in some form or the other. Pregnant women are not hired because they -cost- money yet are encouraged (expected?) to do both. Men are not considered as emotional and sensitive yet are labelled a softy and named derogatory, a girl, when they are.

    This world has many, oh so many, people which brings thousands of views, ideas and beliefs.
    And that also gives rise to so many forms of racism or even favourable racism. ( i don’t know if that’s actually a term here but from where I’m from there’s a concept of favourable racism where a woman might get hired for her rack but lacks the qualifications despite the less endowed woman who has every bit of qualification.)
    The reason i called it self righteous intent and advice is because as much as we can discuss, debate, comment, point out or provide evidence we should rather focus on actually -doing- it rather than “you’re right, you’re wrong.” or making big projects out of “acceptance” for other people or “educate” people in non-racism ways.
    DO and SHOW how it should be done has a greater effect, in my eyes, than links to current affairs and going on’s. As much as one has an opinion HERE, someone else has an opinion elsewhere. Opinions might differ, experience might differ but we are all unified in the idea of acceptance. Focus on that rather than a different opinion or experience

    My apologies for the long wall of text, but i feel could not have conveyed this message without it. Next to that, English is my second language and i sometimes feel my English is inadequate to properly give sound or letter to my thoughts.
    I value constructive comments but if i have offended you, i have done so without intent and i apologize, I am aware my choice of words are sometimes unfortunate. It has more often than not gotten my foot stuck in my mouth but ’tis just the opinion of someone looking towards a more unified existence.

    – Joyce.

  • warwick Wakefield May 30, 2013, 1:43 pm | Link

    It is important to keep some cultural values and to discard others. For example, it used to be normal in Australia, as in most places in the world, to persecute homosexuals (as they were known at the time.) This cultural value has been replaced by an attitude of acceptance.

    An ability to handle horses used to be highly prized and very useful, now it is more or less useles, while an ability to handle computers is useful for everyone.

    Regarding Aboriginal traditional cultural values, it is instructive to consider the Aboriginal rock paintings in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The State governments of those places spend huge amounts of money and exert an enormous amount of energy to maintain the places where these wonderful paintins are found..
    Sadly, the local tribespeople have litle real involvement with them.

    But a people’s cultural values are what a people actually does. Too many Aboriginal folk have adopted the binge drinking culture. Huge efforts are being made, by both black and white people in positions of responsibility, to overcome this culture of drunkenness. One hopes that an answer can be found, for hundreds of lives, both children and adult, are being destroyed.

    I remember when I went to the town of Walgett in the 60’s; the many Aboriginal folk there used to walk the streets with their heads down, afraid to look one in the eye. Now, I believe, that has all changed. Now most Aboriginal folk, except for the inhabitants of very remote comunities, see themselves as citizens, Australian citizens, and they mostly have jobs and good houses and live as well as most Australian citizens. And that is something to rejoice in.

    If you compare the situation of most Aboriginl people today with that which prevailed 50 years ago then it is indeed a matter for rejoicing.

    We are all of us, from all races, updating our cultural values and practices more frequently than we update the operating systems on our computers. The situation is fluid and the adaptable reap great rewards.

    But great progress is being made. There are areas of darkness where hostility and fanaticism prevail, and those areas of darkness can be found in all communities. But the light is being spread everywhere, and everywhere the light spreads lives are being enriched and friendships are being forged..

    • ukaussi May 30, 2013, 2:12 pm | Link

      Ah, thank you Warwick….. agree 100% … as mentioned I think in this forum earlier my best mate in Adelaide when I was 13 was obviously Aboriginal but very well spoken and his family was a normal part of the community.

      Life is indeed what you make of it

      • BobinOz May 30, 2013, 2:22 pm | Link

        Yes, excellent speech Warwick, we need to look forward on this issue, not towards the past. Every year and every decade will hopefully see further improvements and that really is something to rejoice.

      • warwick Wakefield May 30, 2013, 2:39 pm | Link

        Right Ukaussi,
        “a normal part of the community.”
        That doesn’t sound like anything particularly valuable, but I think we both know that when you are 13 years old it is about as valuable as anything.

        And when you are 23 and when you are 33 it is still supremely valuable.

        Imagine you were regarded as the cleverest person in the country.
        You’d never have a day off; you’d never be able to relax.
        Everywhere you went people would expect you to be clever. You’d be expected to say clever things all the time. You would long to be seen as a normal part of the community.

        If you’re a normal part of the community then the rest of the community thinks, “he’s one of us, he doesn’t have to justify himself or constantly work to gain our respect; he’s one of us.” Wonderful.

        Thanks, ukaussi, for pointing this out.
        Cheers,
        Warwick

  • warwick Wakefield May 30, 2013, 10:31 am | Link

    @Janet,
    If your latest point of reference is 1952 you are seriously out of date.
    And you should understand that white bureaucrats and anthropologists are exerting themselves mightlly to preserve traditional Aboriginal culture, and they are being paid a fortune to do so.

    In Australia the greatest effort is being made to teach Aboriginals, kids especially, the elements of contemporary Western culture, so that they will be able to speak the language of their surrounding cultue and dress and behave and employ the skills that will enable them to be lawers or doctors or engineers or business folk.

    Many Aboriginal people, and the great majority of non.Aborigines, understand that this process is made possible by building bridges and creating trust and friendship between the two communities.And it is rendered impossible by harping on old complaints and creating animosity.

    • Janet May 30, 2013, 11:54 am | Link

      Well warwick (a wick for war?), I simply offered the reference to the experience of 1952 as a landmark for the many decades that I have been aware of and studying the Australian/Aboriginal Diaspora. You get the gold metal for jumping to conclusions. I never indicated that 1952 is or was my most recent experience. I simply cited it as my first. Some people are not so willing to put an Anglo price on their land and/or cultural heritage, so for them, “their cultural heritage is priceless”; NOT FOR SALE. Of course, it’s hard to impossible to sell something that has been stolen. That said, I repeat: Australia is a racist country. The practice of inhumane racism was instituted by British invaders; cast-offs from their own motherland who were sent out to sea, because they were considered to be the lowest level of “riff-raff” who did not pay their debts. Get over it and then maybe you can be clear headed and open minded enough to remedy the situation, without holding that the Aboriginals have be “saved”; “Anglicized” to be acceptable enough to be viewed, valued and treated humanely. Whenever ANY nation or group of nations, makes laws that are directed at and target a specific racial, cultural or ethnic group, well those are the actions of a racist nation or group of nations. WWII was not fought because the people were German. It was because Hitler was a ruthless dictator. get the difference here? I don’t care what the motivation is, like we are trying to get their children to not be like their ancestors…. LOL. It is ALL about the RIGHT of the people to SELF DETERMINE and NOT about having some other entity, make choices for them and then enact laws to force them into a way of life that they are not choosing for themselves. Get over the idea that YOUR cultural is BEST for everyone. If YOUR ideas are so good for them and so much better for them than their own values, then I just can’t wait to see you be happy when another country moves in on you and inflicts their laws and values on you. Oh! Where are you Sharia Law? OK China, bring on the one child rule. Australia awaits change and will welcome you forcing your way of life on Australians. HA! Try forcing a baby who hates peas eat them and you will be wearing peas that have been spat upon you; pretty much what Australia is dealing with. More seriously, people have to want and believe that they like and will need, what you offer. Micro managing people and holding up their money to do so is just plain wrong. If you do not agree, then let the Aboriginals have a flip flop here and let them hold up and dictate how you spend your money.

      • ukaussi May 30, 2013, 12:01 pm | Link

        Janet, I think you need to read some of Russel’s links above to update yourself on what is ACTUALLY going on regarding Aboriginal communities at this present time in the 21st century.

        • Janet May 30, 2013, 12:24 pm | Link

          Thank you OZ. I have kept myself well informed since the late fifties about what is going on in Australia, with regard to the Aboriginals. That’s why I responded to your question. I read about Australian Aboriginal life on a regular basis. That’s why I know that they are still living in the bush without proper shelter, food, water or toilet facilities or cooking facilities and are forced to have their compensations withheld and closely monitored. I am not going to accept your comments, like I do not have current information, because I do. NO matter, ALL that is NOW, sits on the foundations of what has been built. Bad and poorly constructed foundations mean that the building will not stand. Using the same building methods now, will result later in failed construction. It did not work before and it will not work now. You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy….. UH…. get it? Right! I am looking at this from a progressive (since 1952) point of view, but I am well aware of what is going on now, as well. As I see it, your question is posted on an open forum, and it is not about me. So what is your point? Are you suggesting that Australia is or is not a racist nation? I answered your question with a YES. If you can not accept the answer, do not ask the question. Don’t turn around and confront and honest respondent just because you do not like or can not agree with their honest well informed answer to your question……. OK?

          • ukaussi May 30, 2013, 12:54 pm | Link

            Sorry, but it doesn’t matter what you say and how often you claim to have accurate information unless you back it up with links to UNBIASED facts from the past 2-3 years.

            Old information is outdated, just like the info about the most racist country in the world last century, SOUTH AFRICA.

            • Janet May 30, 2013, 1:24 pm | Link

              Sorry, but it doesn’t matter what you say and how often you claim to have accurate information unless you back it up with links to UNBIASED facts from the past 2-3 years.

              >>>No need to be sorry, except there you go. Trying to make rules and set expectations for me like I am going to believe that I have to buy into and live by some silly “rules or standards of posting” that you just “willy-nilly” post, without ANY references or confirmation that that it’s even a “rule” or/ and expectation ( LOL). YES it matters. It may not matter to you personally but if it is really both true and real, even if you personnaly do not have that information, it matters. Think of the people who have known very pertinent and relevant information BEFORE it was made public. Just because you do not know it, well that does not mean that is has no merit and does not matter…. get real. I did not know about the BIG horrible tornado that hit Oklahoma. I promise you. I did not know about that, did you? Now with a straight and honest face and rational mind, can you tell me that since neither you nor I KNEW about it, that it did and does not matter? I don’t think so. It matters to the people who are suffering from it’s devastation. Get over yourself. Not EVERYTHING just has to be proven to you, to matter or have importance or validity to someone else. Gheeeeeze! Am I talking to God here?

              • ukaussi May 30, 2013, 1:31 pm | Link

                Thanks for posting, you proved my point… have a nice day.

                • Janet May 30, 2013, 1:53 pm | Link

                  LOL…. THERE you went again. I have proven nothing, according to your previously stated standards, because I provided “no links to UNBIASED facts from the past 2-3 years”.

                  This was in my mind, never a contest, but simply a conversation.

                  You have a nice afternoon, and since I am in USA, I’l have a nice sleep. Thanks for your participation in this discussion.

                  • ukaussi May 30, 2013, 2:06 pm | Link

                    thanks for your input and information on your past experiences. Still early for me as I am in California

        • Janet May 30, 2013, 12:53 pm | Link

          OH…. I did not mention this before because of just being practical and trying to keep things short. The first time when offered, I did not go to Australia, but later I did got there and for myself, I experienced racial hostility. Right. I was not trying to tell my whole life story here or provide you a history of my itinerary of travels, just to make a post….. so is there some kind of double standard on this posting? Just asking. I repeat. Australia is a racist nation and I would advise anyone of color to avoid Australia unless your personal appearance insures that you will not be mistaken for an aboriginal. I am brown. I walked into a boutique in Perth, w/ a pocket full of money and several credit cards with high limits. I did not buy. I was treated there in 2001, like brown people were treated in the USA in the thirties and forties. The clerks actually stood back and snickered @ me. I also know an African American man ( U S Citizen) who went to Australia and New Zealand in 2004 as a professional consultant. He was told many times by different people how much they admired him and how they wished that the lazy Aboriginals there had the gumption that he had, to make something of themselves like he had done, and that they hoped that he inspired and motivated them with his talks…… GIVE ME A BREAK! Those yahoos did not even KNOW that they were making racist remarks and at the same time, in doing so, insulting their guest. YES! Australia IS a racist nation. I could give you more examples…. but no. I’m done giving you FREE information that is every place. You could get it for yourself, if you really had a mind to do so and weren’t so “locked into your current thought patterns”. My best to you with the peas.

          • Lui May 31, 2013, 3:14 am | Link

            so much effort to prove something that clearly exists… but exists big in South Africa, as in America and most of the planet.
            While I have many friends expats living in different countries,I have listened to both black and white mourning about ‘discrimination’.
            In Ireland I was discriminated and denied a good (wanted to buy beans in the small african shop) when even for the sake of ‘business’ I couldn’t get it.
            you know,australia can be till certain extension a ‘narrow minded country’…the truth is that ‘this narrow minded australia’ is deep into ghettos, countryside villages, it’s just similar to any other country.
            I see koreans not getting along with chinese and etc…
            Now make such big effort to prove facts that Australia is trying to change doesn’t really make Australia as bad as you describe.
            Good luck because I see that when we search for ‘being fairly’ treated,seems that we even encounter people willing to give us rough.

  • Janet May 30, 2013, 10:07 am | Link

    Oh my!! YES! there is most definitely racism in Australia. In 1952, when I was a mere 12 years old, I had my first experience with Australians, here in America. I am a decendant of Africans and Native Americans. The racism that they professed was frightfully irrational. While they loved me because I am American, yet they spoke in hateful and very derogetory terms about the Aboriginals of Australia. They did not openly express hate for the Aboriginals, because of their skin color alone. As I was best able to understand, they hated them because they were “different” from/than the Anglo Australians. It was mostly strange to me then. I thought that like white southerners in the USA, they should also hate me for my skin color, but they didn’t…. because they saw me as “like” them. In any case, as I grew older and the Civil Rights movement in USA was lead by Dr. Martin King, I have closely watched the progress/lack of progress by Aboriginals in Australia. I had an offer to travel to Australia, but I turned it down because I did not want to spend on cent to further enable that oppressive government. I went to South Africa. No, America is not perfect on race relations, but even south Africa surpasses Australia in progress toward equality. The policies and the psyche of Anglo Australians are inhumane and perhaps born of deeply seeded intergenerational evil. Changes must be made but looking for newer ways to strip the people of their culture, now that most of the lasnd has been stripped away, is not a safe or viable option.

  • russell May 20, 2013, 5:08 pm | Link

    I wasn’t repeating myself.
    Bob took my critisism personally, so I explained myself.

    If you have a website with paying advertisers either pick your subject matter carefully so you don’t lose advertisers, or cover the subject of racism fully and properly, otherwise you leave yourself open to being accused of all sorts, including putting personal gain above other peoples misery. Thats not an accusation by the way, its an observation of what can happen.

    He also took offence at my suggestion that he had implied that racism here is no worse than any other country, so I refered him to some of his previous comments that demonstrated otherwise.

    Not personal, we’re all adults and should be able to take critisism objectively. And its always more productive to be objective in debate rather than make your comments deliberately personal Warwick.

    And by the Warwick, its a real shame that you are bored about facts like aboriginal child suicides are up to 100 the average of some parts of Australia.

    Nearly all racism here is directed at aboriginal people and you all know that, so get an opinion from some of them, otherwise this is just non productive chatter.

    • BobinOz May 20, 2013, 5:28 pm | Link

      Russell, two of my readers have told you you are repeating yourself and becoming boring, so what do you do? You repeat yourself again and bang on with the same message.

      You were given an opportunity here to express your views on racism in Australia, but for some inexplicable reason you also think that you can talk on behalf of my advertisers, you think you can pick the subjects I do and do not write about, you have also misquoted me and, most ridiculous of all, you think think you know what’s going on inside my head when you say I have taken your criticism personally. I haven’t, all I have done is point out many of the incorrect statements you have made.

      Russell, you have made your point, the same point, many many times. Warwick has asked you to stop, ukaussie has asked you to stop, I could ask you to stop as well, but I know you won’t listen.

      For that reason I am now monitoring your comments, if you have anything new to say, I’ll approve it, but if it’s the same old same old, you’ll be wasting your time.

    • Jesse Aru May 20, 2013, 8:55 pm | Link

      “Nearly all racism here is directed at aboriginal people”……
      Now that’s just plain rubbish. In my area in Southern Sydney, most racism (if any racism at all, is sometimes directed at Vietnamese, sometimes British, sometimes American, sometimes Lebanese etc., but I haven’t heard a single Aboriginal racist comment here for at least one full year. And I haven’t heard one….. anywhere, for the last year about Aboriginals specifically, and I travel to REDFERN (look up Redfern, it’s notorious for racist gangs) every day.
      So, no, saying “Nearly all racism here is directed at aboriginal people”, is utter rubbish and generalisation.

    • warwick May 20, 2013, 10:59 pm | Link

      When I was a small boy I was very afraid of, and respectful towards, God. As an older boy I found out that people would emphasizes their statements by invoking the fearful power of God; I would hear people say things like, “Get off my property or by God I’ll deal with you.”
      Now my own name is being similarly used to lend terrible force to a statement; Russell has just written, “And by the Warwick, it’s a real shame. . . . . ”
      I have to confess that I’m a little flattered that someone would consider that I’m so powerful that the invocation of my name would lend this kind of force to his statement, but I do think this is taking things too far. I’m not even a minor deity.
      Cheers,
      W

  • russell May 20, 2013, 1:09 pm | Link

    Bob

    I’ve tried to be as objective as I can and my critisism is of your judgement, not you personally. I think its always best to keep emotion out of discussion and argument and I’m not going to get involved in the finer points of grammar and punctuation with you.

    Your site has a commercial element, with advertisers aiming to get business from people looking to move to Australia, so its inevitable that a potential conflict of interest will occur if you are going to attempt to attract comment on the contentious subject of racism and the current (and acknowledged) racist policy in place in Australia.

    You write well, you’re probably a journalist and possibly a trained one, so you know what’s going on here in Australia. There’s an almost endless source of information and evidence available if you are interested in finding out and I can see that you have an enquiring mind. I included just a few links in my earlier post that show the wealth of information available to anyone.

    So why ask for comment? Your responses to posts give the impression that there’s racism everywhere in the world and Australia is no worse than anywhere else. For example “Well, here in Australia, “a fair go” is one of our catchphrases” (a quote) and “We all know Australia isn’t “free of racism”, but I think we all agree that no country is” (another quote).

    Most individuals are decent people would not consider themselves racist, however there is institutional racism here in Australia and there certainly is racist policy currently in action. Its been acknowledged – even by Australian government itself – by taking the pragmatic initiative of getting rid of (or suspending, its the same difference) a law that addresses racism in order to pass a racist law…to stop it being racist. A fine example of disposable morals.

    You are fully aware of the problems here and I stand by my earlier comment that this site isn’t the right forum to post a blog on the subject of racism in Australia, unless you are fullly prepared to accept all arguments and you attempt to seek comment from those people who continue to suffer its effects and would not otherwise view your website. I think thats completely reasonable, otherwise you leave yourself open to all sorts of accusations, unjustified or not.

    This is not about you or my grammar, its not personal and shouldn’t be. Many fellow Australians are currently living miserable lives, suffering malnutrition & disease and dying before their time because of cruel and petty racist policy. It is very personal for them though.

    If you are interested in reading more from a white perspective, Australian journalist Jeff McMullen (AM) is highly regarded and has campaigned for many years to highlight the terrible conditions that many Aboriginal people have to endure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_McMullen

    • warwick May 20, 2013, 2:27 pm | Link

      If you contributed something new your posts would be worth reading, but you just go on and on and on, same old thing, like a nagging spouse, like a dog that barks endlessly through the night.

    • ukaussi May 20, 2013, 4:07 pm | Link

      Russell, I have to agree with Warwick, we understand the situation and many, like myself, have likely read some of the links you posted and agree with some or all of what you have said but if you continue to say the same thing over and over then you lose your audience and people will ignore you as just some whiner who is hijacking this discussion.
      You are doing your cause an injustice by continuing and many will simply no longer read this discussion like myself.
      This isn’t just about if racism exists towards just native aboriginals, but racism in general.

  • ukaussi May 19, 2013, 2:29 am | Link

    … forgot to add….

    I will indeed find it interesting to compare my current situation here in California with Australia.
    My 4 fellow team members I work with every day in IT are:-
    – Pakistani born but raised in US
    – Guatamalan Hispanic who moved here over 20 years ago
    – African-American born in Germany (military family) raised in US (Georgia)
    – Persian born in Iran but I think mostly raised here (new guy)

    Interesting mix…..

    … and yes, with some people here at my office I do sometimes see what you could describe as somewhat racism towards the Guatamalan (who is late 40’s like me)because his English is not perfect like the others and they likelyt think he is Mexican and where I work is in an area where many look “down” on Hispanics and see them as low paid workers. But that is a common thing in Southern California unfortunately as many often come here illegally etc but that is a huge controversial story itself so don’t think California is all “warm and rosey” in every aspect :-S

  • russell May 18, 2013, 2:36 pm | Link

    if you really want a balanced view Bob you have to get the opinions from the people who have been and are still on the receiving end of racist policy. With due respect, this is a great website but I can’t see that Cathy Freeman, Jimmy Little or any other Indigenous Australian will get out of bed today and ask themselves if Bob has a blog running on racism and then checking on google so they can give their opinion.

    This is what’s happening now..not in the past.

    Australia is the only “western” democracy to have separate laws for aboriginal people and had to actually recently suspend The Racial Discrimination Act in order to implement laws exclusively to control aboriginal people

    Australia is the only developed country where Trachoma – the 19th century disease of European slums – has not been eradicated and because of inadequate housing and poverty, is still prevalent in some aboriginal communities.
    https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2001/175/7/trachoma-australia

    Palm Island, the place where “difficult” indigenous people were sent to currently has a population 3000 people…and 300 houses! Do the sums and work out how many people have to live in each house. A few years ago a non violent man in overnight custody was found dead with a burst liver, apparently he fell down the stairs, or someone “accidently” fell on him??! Funny enough there was a riot. You can read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Palm_Island_death_in_custody

    Australia’s aboriginal children have the worlds highest suicide rate. http://thestringer.com.au/australias-aboriginal-children-the-worlds-highest-suicide-rate/#.UZfr66Tn-Uk

    Arnand Grover UN Special Rapporteur recently conducted a report of Indigenous Human Rights and concluded that the government were operating very discriminatory laws. The response by some of Canberra’s finest was to suggest he go home! http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/22270/

    I could go on and on but I’d be writing all day.

    I love Australia and I love living here but this issue is a big stain on this great country and dirty open secret that has to change. Its not French people sniffing at your efforts to speak their language, its about death, persecution and disadvantage. And its happening today.

    So what I want Bob is for racism in Australia not to be ignored or glossed over. This is a site talking about the great lifestyle that can be achieved by moving to Australia, I get that. But, with respect you are out of order lining this up with “throw another shrimp on the Barbie” blogs and comfortably concluding “well there you go folks, I guess there’s a bit of racism everywhere”.

    As I’ve said before I like your website and your editorial and good luck with it. I’ve taken up enough of your blog space and I’ll leave you and others to get on with it.

    • Jesse Aru May 18, 2013, 11:23 pm | Link

      Bit negative to the world’s most liveable and friendliest country, honestly. All these first-world people these days complaining about how ‘horrible’ Australia is. Try visiting Iraq and see if they care about racism within their own nation. It’s the media making a big fuss on first-world problems. I know this isn’t exactly on the topic of racism, but it has a similar concept.

      On the 15th of April, this year, you would be aware that the Boston Marathon bombings happened, purely because the news was onto the story like a dog to a bone. Meanwhile, in Iraq, multiple bombs were set off all over the country, killing 15 times more people than the Boston incident. But, some stupid first world country is FAR more important than some silly Iraq… The media controls us. So, stop thinking of the negatives in a near-perfect country. I’m sure Iraq or Iran would be more than grateful to share their horrible experiences.

      Ok, I really have a getting-off-the-topic problem. Anyways, hope you have an amazing day! I for one, will, as my father is visiting today from business in Hong Kong 🙂

      • Warwick May 19, 2013, 8:05 am | Link

        Near – perfect? Near -perfect?
        Jesse, you undercut the force of your argument when you employ silly exaggerations.

        To say that there is little racism here, especially when you consider the racism that actually exists in many places, is a pretty good analysis. But when you say Australia is near-perfect you sound like a chauvinist from the old iron curtain countries.
        Keep it real and you can make good points.

        • Jesse Aru May 19, 2013, 5:43 pm | Link

          I, personally, am left-wing, but I still think Australia is close to perfect for a far-right country.
          If you want to know, my favourite country is Belgium, I just love the food and history and culture there.

          • Warwick May 19, 2013, 7:16 pm | Link

            Jesse my old mate,
            I don’t know how old you are but if you were born before, say, 1975, then you would have known that all the Soviet block countries used to call themselves “workers paradises.” They used to issue figures for industrial production and consumption to back up their claims. But everyone knew that the figures were rubbish and that life was pretty grey and regimented there.

            Since then it has become usual to be instantly sceptical when anyone claims that his country is without any of the difficulties that beset all of us humans wherever we are.

            Maybe you’re too young to have lived through the time when the Soviet government propaganda mills were churning out streams of absurd claims about the “new society” and the “new man,” but there have been hundreds of volumes written about it. If you haven’t already done so, may I suggest you read some of it? A good place to start would be with Arthur Koestler’s writing on the subject – “The God that Failed” is a great introduction.

            What has this got to do with the prevalence or absence of racism here in Australia?

            Well, although conditions are pretty good, in fact very good, here in Australia, we have to be realistic and acknowledge that those in authority over us, and we ordinary members of the public, are subject to the frailties common to humans everywhere, and once we start using words like “near-perfect” we lose our credibility.

            I’ve been to Belgium. I didn’t spend enough time there but aren’t the cities extraordinarily beautiful.

            Cheers,
            Warwick

            • BobinOz May 19, 2013, 7:49 pm | Link

              Russell, you say “But, with respect you are out of order lining this up with “throw another shrimp on the Barbie” blogs and comfortably concluding “well there you go folks, I guess there’s a bit of racism everywhere”. ”

              I give people like YOU the opportunity to voice your opinions about racism in Australia on my website and I am out of order?

              You also say “So what I want Bob is for racism in Australia not to be ignored or glossed over.” I have written a post about racism in Australia, so I’ve not ignored it, I’ve not glossed over, I’ve asked people for their opinions and that’s what I’m getting, yet you think I’m out of order?

              Absolutely laughable!

              Also, when you put things in quotes as you have done and I have done above, it usually indicates that somebody actually said it, word for word. Tell me where I say “well there you go folks, I guess there’s a bit of racism everywhere“.

              That’s a rhetorical question, I don’t want you to answer it, I know I didn’t say it. I’d rather you stick to what it is you have said, which is “I’ve taken up enough of your blog space and I’ll leave you and others to get on with it.

              Bob

            • Jesse Aru May 20, 2013, 8:48 pm | Link

              Oh, I love Belgium, great place. Everything about it is beautiful.

            • Timmy Jose September 4, 2013, 4:36 pm | Link

              Wow. I had been enjoying some of your comments in this thread, but you seem to have something of a major problem regarding other people’s opinions.

              • BobinOz September 4, 2013, 10:06 pm | Link

                We probably need to know which of us you are talking to Timmy?

    • ukaussi May 19, 2013, 2:13 am | Link

      Some interesting articles there Russell. I read the most recent one and it is indeed a very sad situation with many different aspects and viewpoints. I would encourage people to read that article and similar articles from all viewpoints to get a complete picture, but as we see today much journalism is “skewed” in a direction that want you to see. So again, I would encourage people to read this article and research further if you want to find out more.
      http://thestringer.com.au/australias-aboriginal-children-the-worlds-highest-suicide-rate/#.UZfr66Tn-Uk

      Sorry, I did not read the other articles as they were 6-12 years old, although it is likely some may still be relevant.

      Suffice to say, like almost every 1st world country, there is a level of discrimination within the population against any kind of minority whether it be a racial or cultural, foreign or domestic. Even 2nd & 3rd world countries have it.

      The REAL question is how much? Given that most people in Australia are likely 1st or 2nd generation immigrants it becomes very complex but I think, again like most other 1st world countries, it is improving amongst the “average” person.

    • Janet May 30, 2013, 10:12 am | Link

      Thank you for the more in depth honest examination of this topic.

  • russell May 17, 2013, 1:34 pm | Link

    I guess I must have but I suppose it depends on what you are looking to achieve with this blog?
    So perhaps this website is not the place to raise the damaging and contentious issue of racism in Australia.
    Promoting and explaining the fantastic lifestyle that can be enjoyed in Australia is one thing, however racism gets tabled its only reasonable to expect posts that are not comfortable to read, especially when the overall suggestion is that there is not a problem here.
    And as someone who grew up and lived in the UK in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, you will know as well as I do that every opinion has to count. Otherwise minorities and the silent majority leave themselves open to being conned, bombed and bullied.
    I like your website and enjoy reading about your experiences

    Regards

    • BobinOz May 17, 2013, 8:24 pm | Link

      Of course every opinion counts, and of course this website is the place to raise the issue of racism in Australia, that’s why I raised it. My subtle point you, which I will now explain, is that anybody who is concerned about racism in Australia and Google’s “is Australia racist” will find me, irrespective of whether they are looking to move to Australia or not.

      That includes Cathy Freeman and Jimmy Little or any other aborigine who can access an Internet connection. Everybody has the chance to make their point, and you’ve made your point several times now. Others have also made points about our indigenous Australians.

      This is a place where people can post their views about racism in Australia, and others can read all the comments and decide for themselves whether this might be a pleasant country to move to or not. Your contribution counts too Russell, and I do appreciate it, others can read it and acknowledge it, I’m not sure what else you are looking for.

      Cheers

      Bob

    • Lui May 17, 2013, 8:42 pm | Link

      You made a point, however the need of discussing what people experience in the present context is also important even though limited.
      What people experienced in the past in Oz, whether it was fair or unfair it doesn’t mean that today people are experienced the same.
      And I think it’s great a website where at least for many people I came across enjoy a good and positive vision of life in Oz is.
      I’m sure the people that believe Oz being a ‘not so wonderful country’ may have their reasons and probably will look into websites where the discussions are more ‘realistic’.
      The post doesn’t not concludes in ‘there’s no problems with racism in Oz’ It does and clearly say that ‘there can be racism’. There’s no conclusion apart from some that have more black and white views.
      There’s just yesterday (can search google if you would like)a study showing the most racists countries in the world.Although the study of course fail to assess more at ‘real people living in the paradise side’ still gives a good idea on how different countries copes with people coming from another lands.
      A country like France,standing right in the centre of EU (the new called ‘modern and correct civilization in the old continent’ ) scored badly.When I lived in France I never felt at all being treated different for not being french, however when it comes into ‘how much in a professional environment’ me or anyone that doesn’t that french, then the intolerance is shown and it’s not a secret.My ex wife was french and when I first heard this thing about ‘french being racist deep down’ I thought she was over doing her only personal frustration… she wasn’t.
      Intolerance in Oz isn’t much worse than the rest of the world.
      Intolerance we humans have to anyone or anything that does not inspire us secure.
      The jokes about aliens from Mars coming down on the Earth and being immediately received with a dozens of missiles pointing their star-ship just reflects how we need time to absolve, to understand, to accept and respect something or someone new.
      Intolerance has many names, colors, cultures, social status and so.
      What happened in the past sadly reflects still too much on many people’s mind and can’t move on.At the moment, a huge amount of people believe that Oz is a great country to migrate in, to work, set a new life, to help australia not falling back into these years of narrow minded governance.

      • Jesse Aru May 18, 2013, 11:36 pm | Link

        You’ve summed up a lot of sense there 🙂 it’s funny how when I visited Finland, and Oulu, my hometown, all the bored schoolboys there thought that Australia was a magical place where the weather is perfect, the girls are perfect, you can get everything you’ll ever want, where there are no limits to what you can or cannot do, and that the only person stopping yourself is you.

        While some of this may be close to true, in reality it is rather a cute concept that Australia is one giant, perfect fun-park with unlimited rides. Personally, I like Finland more than Australia, but I needed to experience experiences that I could never have in Finland, as both countries are very different to each other. That’s the only reason anyone would move to another location – change, a lifestyle difference, new experiences etc.

        When you boil it down, those schoolboys only thought Australia was perfect because they longed for a different environment to Oulu. And I can’t blame them, there’s so much more to see than long winters and saunas 😛

        I think I may have summed up why immigrants even exist.

        • Timmy Jose September 4, 2013, 4:34 pm | Link

          Spot on, Jesse!

  • Russell May 16, 2013, 4:37 am | Link

    My point is clear. ” is there racism in Australia” is the question you have asked and its very well documented and acknowledged that aboriginal people have historically suffered and continue to suffer the effects of racist policy and attitude. International bodies such as Oxfam and many others have publicly condemned current policy that disadvantages aboriginal people and weighs the odds against them. Your site is for people looking to settle in Australia, not for a people who have been living on this land for over 5000 years, so they are not likely to see this website or this blog. It’s a very clear point

    • BobinOz May 16, 2013, 3:03 pm | Link

      Russell, it seems you have missed the subtlety of my point in my reply to you earlier.

  • Les May 15, 2013, 11:57 pm | Link

    Les, I have completely removed your comment for mentioning a senseless and violent act that would end in death. In fact your whole comment was senseless, as anybody who received a copy of it in their mailbox will know.

    If you want to join in this debate, please think very carefully about what you write before hitting the submit button.

    Kind regards

    Bob.

    • Warwick May 16, 2013, 9:31 am | Link

      Surely Les was drunk. If he had been sober he wouldn’t have sent in such a ramble.

      • BobinOz May 16, 2013, 3:15 pm | Link

        Let’s hope so, if he wasn’t, well, I just don’t know.

  • Russell May 15, 2013, 11:47 pm | Link

    Ha ha, ok 🙂 but I hope you get my point.

    But there again I wonder how many aboriginal people feel the need to check out a website on settling in Australia??

    Crikey, I think I’ve got a good point there.

    • BobinOz May 16, 2013, 12:17 am | Link

      No, actually I don’t get your point. Even if they were both to chime in, and they could find me easy enough if they searched the web for “is Australia racist”, all we would have would be two more opinions to go with the many opinions we already have here.

      I don’t see how that changes things that much.

  • Russell May 15, 2013, 9:37 pm | Link

    So anyone want to ask Kathryn freeman or jimmy little if they believe aboriginal people are discriminated against? And are they prepared to listen to their answers.

    Easy enough to do.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 11:31 pm | Link

      They are quite free to join in on this debate Russell, this discussion open to everyone 🙂

  • Pop May 15, 2013, 4:49 pm | Link

    Wow.. Great Comment.. This will be my standing point to start my day as student in Australia.

    Thank You 🙂

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 4:59 pm | Link

      Which one? If we know which comment you are talking about, we can have a good stab at how good or bad the start to your day as a student in Australia will be 🙂

      • Pop May 15, 2013, 7:21 pm | Link

        Hi Bob, the comment was from Paolo, UKAussie and Jessie Aru.
        That would be interesting to see the good and the bad side of it 😀

        Thank You

        • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 11:32 pm | Link

          Sounds like we are helping you write your first assignment!

          • Pop May 16, 2013, 12:26 am | Link

            Hahahaha…. indeed 😀

  • Warwick May 15, 2013, 2:18 pm | Link

    Paolo,
    let me set you straight.
    It is a recognized device, in literature, philosophy and other forms of academic and intellectual discussion, to illustrate one’s discussion with anecdotes, either specifically factual or representatively factual.

    If you take these anecdotes and conclude that they represent the whole of the writers experience and knowledge and understanding of the matter you have fallen into a reductionist fallacy. Let me illustrate it for you.

    Some time ago Francis Ford Coppola made a movie called Apocalypse Now. It was about the war in Vietnam. The Apocalypse is the the book of Revelation in the Bible, the book which tells of the final battle between good and evil, when God will destroy all the world’s evildoers, all the kingdoms of the world and establish His own kingdom. As it is related, it is a violent and gory event.

    Now, if you saw Coppola’s movie and then said, “There was no mention of God; there was no mention of St John or the Bible or any mention of The Final Judgement or God establishing the Kingdom of Heaven” then people would say, “Don’t be so literal, The Apocalypse has become a metaphor for any exceedingly violent and destructive event.”

    When I related various anecdotes they were not intended to be, and no discerning reader would have interpreted them to be, the sum of my experience, knowledge and understanding of the matter. They were simply intended to be illustrative of wider and more general points.

    There is a story in folk literature about The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
    Hamelin was subject to a plague of rats and the city fathers engaged a piper to fix the problem. The piper played, the rats followed him and were drowned in the river, the Eiser, into which he led them. Then the city fathers refused to pay the agreed sum. So the piper took up his flute and played music of such overwhelming sweetness that all the children of the city followed him, entranced, into a cavern that opened in a nearby mountain. Then the cavern closed and the piper and the children were seen no more.

    What would you take away from that story? That musicians can’t be trusted? That today’s music is nowhere near as good as it was in the good old days? That you should never do business with people who wear strange clothes? Or, to be very literal, that since any geological forces that would cause such huge movements in mountainous rock formations would also destroy the city of Hamelin, we should dismiss and forget this story.

    Paolo, when I told the story of the Middle Eastern housebreaker I put this sentence into the his mouth, “Please sir, it is not in my nature to be a thief; there are social aspects which are causal factors in my adopting this profession.”
    Now come on! No thief either has said or would say such a sentence. It is simply a piece of sociobabble that had been previously employed. I used it in the story to illustrate . . . . Well, I am tired of explaining the obvious.

    Paolo, I have travelled all over the Goddam world. I have seen racism in hundreds and hundreds of its manifestations. And it is crazy to think that because I don’t fit into some narrow pigeon hole I must be simply a knuckle dragging, nobrow, sister shagging, moonshine-swilling backwoodsman.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 4:58 pm | Link

      Warwick, I’m not really sure why you are picking on Paolo like this, he is not the only one in this thread to have assumed that your story was true, both John and I who followed your original comments with remarks were unsure, even I said “I assume it is very is true”.

      The world is full of tall stories that actually also turn out to be true, so it’s unfair of you to suggest to us all that your story was so obviously an anecdote to help you get your point across.

      I don’t think Paolo has deserved this response and I would really appreciate it if you make your remarks generally about the subject of the post rather than picking individual fights with other commenters.

      Thanks

      Bob

      • warwick May 15, 2013, 5:26 pm | Link

        Bob,
        I’m not picking a fight, with you or anyone else, but when I put that phrase into the mouth of the housebreaker, “Please sir, it is not in my nature to be a thief; there are social aspects which are causal factors in my adopting this profession.”
        wouldn’t you agree that I gave a pretty good signal that this was a purely invented anecdote?
        If I wanted you to think this was the actual truth I wouldn’t have had the housebreaker use a phrase that was not only sociobabble but was the exact phrase that had been used in another post a little earlier.

        Bob, are story, fiction and parable to be excluded from this site?
        Are metaphor and simile to be excluded?
        I’m not talking about anything fancy here, I’m just talking about the usual methods that ordinary people use to make a point.
        You’re a man of many parts, you don’t just limit yourself to dry-as-dust abstract generalizations.
        Think about it; I think you’ll see what I’m getting at.

        • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 11:17 pm | Link

          Of course anyone who comments here can use fiction, parable or metaphor to get their point across, I’m just pointing out to you that if you do then be prepared to be misunderstood.

          It matters not how ridiculous you think the sentence was you had your fictional burglar say, this is a very strange world in which we live and as I’ve already pointed out, there are some very tall stories that have turned out to be true.

          Feel free to embellish your comments as much as you wish, but do remember around 40% of my audience are not natural English speakers, so don’t be surprised when people don’t get it.

        • rahman March 7, 2014, 12:54 am | Link

          so the entire story about that lebanese burglar was fictional. god. i believed it to be true. why do you have to make up such a story?

    • Jesse Aru May 15, 2013, 11:09 pm | Link

      Look, English may be my second language, but by the second paragraph I didn’t understand a word. Sorry.

      • BobinOz May 16, 2013, 12:09 am | Link

        I struggled too Jesse, and English is my first language. I got a bit stuck with “reductionist fallacy”, so I did what anyone in a hurry would do, I just ignored it and carried on reading.

        Having read your comment though, I thought the least I could do is discover the meaning so that I could help out some of my readers, like yourself, for whom English is not a first language.

        With the help of a website called angelfire, I got this…

        “the reductionist fallacy of academic analyses: To believe that the meaning of any element in an academic system (analysis thereof) is exhausted merely by relating it directly to a reduced definition of all the interests of the dominant classes at play therein, without inquiring into the contribution this system makes, qua system, towards reproducung the structure of class relations in a society, is an easy way of obtaining, by a sort of pessimistic finalism, the facile answers of an explanation at once ad hoc and all purpose.”

        OK now? 🙂

        • Warwick May 16, 2013, 9:19 am | Link

          I’ll tell you how the word “reductionist” is ordinarily used.
          Consider a human. If you were a reductionist you would reduce a human to his (or her) most basic components.
          A human is made up of 65% oxygen, 18% carbon, 10%hydrogen, and tiny amounts of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and the like.

          If you were considering the causes of, say, alcoholism and you were a reductionist then you would only consider those things which are measurable and unambiguously observable, such as the presence or lack of these elements, that is, you would have reduced a human only to the most obvious components.
          You would not look at such things as family situation or background, or other forms of stress, because these things couldn’t be located in the “reductionist” model which you have chosen to adopt.

          If someone tells you an anecdote to illustrate a situation or a process of social behaviour then you focus entirely on the the components of that anecdote, which you dismiss if it is not objectively true.

          For example, if you heard Jesus’ story about the “good Samaritan,” you might speculate about the contents of the water in the wells in Samaria, as an influence on altruistic behaviour.

          Please don’t object that the word “altruistic” is too difficult.

          • BobinOz May 16, 2013, 3:13 pm | Link

            For a clever (and often condescending) man Warwick, I’m surprised you can’t grasp the fact that it’s not a great idea to use fancy words on this website as many of my readers are not native English speakers.

            You are not entering a grammar competition here, your trying to communicate with the other people who comment on this website. Might be a good idea if you remember that 🙂

            • warwick May 16, 2013, 8:09 pm | Link

              Com on Bob,
              I never use a fancy word if a plain one will do.
              I never say “this begs the question” if I can say
              “this raises the question.”
              I never say “there are issues with this method” when I can say
              “there are problems with this method.”

              The meaning of the word “reduction” and from it, “reductionist,”
              can be worked out from the context. You reduce something to the most literal possible explanation. It’s very common: the other night I saw a program on obesity on the telly; the medical researchers started with the idea of genetic makeup and and they never got very far away from that idea.
              They reduced the human to physical building blocks without considering the influence of a persons emotions, ideas, and position in the world.
              It’s an extraordinarily useful word, because it’s an extraordinarily useful idea that helps you understand so much of the discussion that goes on in public.
              I had to work out what it meant – I didn’t have any fancy education. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask people in general to be willing to grasp new ideas and the simple words that convey those ideas.

              Take the word, “prejudice.” There is no other word that so well conveys the idea of “forming a judgment without considering the facts of the matter.” To someone who doesn’t know the word it’s difficult, but that shouldn’t mean that no-one can use it.

              We’ll have to agree to disagree, Bob. I’m very happy with the vocabulary I use; I don’t use fancy words when a plain one will do and I try to use the words that best fit the idea I’m trying to get across.

              If you think any language I use is too hard for ordinary discourse, feel free to tell me. But bear in mind that you’ve set up a public website and introduced such matters as the legitimacy of the claims of catastrophic, man-made, global warming and the prevalence of racism in Australia. You’ve already set your canoe onto a stream full of whitewater; you can’t then complain that there is some tricky oarwork being used.
              Or, to be literal once again, You have already embarked on a higher level of discussion.

              • Jesse Aru May 18, 2013, 11:06 pm | Link

                I can feel my brain cells committing suicide one by one. I’m fairly sure that I learned this strange language a little while ago called ‘English’. It’s commonly known throughout the civilised world as being the hardest language to learn as a second language. Now, I wouldn’t know why on earth anyone would try and make learning it 5 times harder by throwing out the fanciest words they can think of in a split second. Bob is right. I’ve read the whole Oxford Dictionary 4 times, every word, and I lost you AGAIN at the second paragraph. Clearly, some English-speakers are a bit of a joke when it comes to accepting that English should be taught easily, not impossibly. You DO use fancy words, both a native English speaker and a foreigner have already agreed, and you use paragraphs that not even MENSA would recognise.
                When I was reading any one of your comments, Warwick, my brain seemed to have to use at least twice it’s brainpower to even process the idea into real words. I think I was suffering from severe analysis paralysis.
                You sure are straying off the topic of racism, aren’t you? Although that may be partially my fault 😛

                Anyways, I hope you have an amazing day 🙂

  • paolo May 15, 2013, 11:13 am | Link

    I ve read only few of the posts of this “can of worms” kind of subject.
    racism is a vivid matter and in a modern era like the one we live in, with advancing globalization, and it obvious that it s more and more a present argument in everybody s life, especially for a culturally heterogeneous country like Australia.

    What is certainly just to assess first of all is to “define” the word racism.
    What is clear, reading the previous posts, is that people have different opinions about it, depending on the personal experiences and most of all from the different paradigms they used to define it.

    It s obvious that the opinion of Warwick for instance may be a little too “self oriented” in terms of discussing this matter, because of the bad experience he had.
    Others like the Indian guy Bob quoted in this post, had a totally diverse experience from the usual instead, allowing him to reconsider the level of racism and classism in this country.

    So to the question “is Australia racist”?
    My answer is No.
    My answer is “Australia is classist”, that involves more the economical ans social status of a person rather than his cultural background.

    Somebody, at this point, could say “hey Paolo, but where are the black people in Oz, if you say that Australian society is not racist?”
    You are right my friend.

    The only black people allowed in this country are only the wealthy ones, and unfortunately for them, there are only few rich people from Africa that are actually black.

    Is not at this point about race, but it s about money.
    Of course, if you are economically advantaged, you most likely had received a good education and you come from a good family and a good neighborhood, and so on.
    What Australia does is allowing these kind of people to come in.
    Otherwise you are a refugee.
    If you are a refugee, you are 1% of the Australian population, so you may encounter some social friction on your life.
    If you are instead aboriginal, you have been deprived of your own land, and now you have to cope with it.
    But if you conform, people will treaty right…and you won’t pay taxes.
    What about that for a change!
    🙂

    O hope I didn’t sound silly.

    This is what I see.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 3:05 pm | Link

      Interesting view Paolo, and it is true to say that the way immigration is set up it does favour the better off, so the vast majority of those who move here to Australia are more likely to be above average earners.

      I’m sure our government would deny that they are “wealthist” – just seeking to import the skills this country needs 🙂

    • Jesse Aru May 15, 2013, 11:01 pm | Link

      Yes, when I first arrived here, the first person I became friends with was an African boy from a small village near Kilimanjaro – his family took tours up the mountain and saved up to come here. We even go to the same university :D. Another factor is worldwide location. Australia is quite a distance from The African continent – many North Africans move to Italy and France. So why on earth move to Australia? Well, there are many other topics on this great website about just why people choose to move here, but its basically because of opportunity. Australia has a bandwagon full of opportunity, just waiting to burst in your face when you hop on the airport line towards the city centre for the first time. Anyone who has simply dissed Australia has either never been here, or is a po-faced biased bloke from somewhere like Nunavut, where anywhere south of Rekjavik would be “too warm”. Also, Australia has the most natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites on earth, because our land is so big; if Western Australia were a country, it would be the tenth largest on earth, and you can fit 100 Scotlands in Australia. Double that up with animal you can’t see anywhere else, as well as ranking top ten for almost every positive lifestyle list in existence (besides maybe population and population density), you’ve got one of the best countries on earth, and there is no real reason to hate Australia.

      I’m kind of straying off topic anyways 😀

  • Kathryn May 15, 2013, 8:48 am | Link

    Why is it that, apparently, only white people are racist? Racism raises its ugly head across all nationalities, colours and creeds. I have travelled widely overseas and throughout Australia. The open hostility some members of the aboriginal community have against whites can be felt strongly in places like Darwin and Alice Springs. Irrationally, their hatred is against whites because of historical incidences that happened 100 years ago (and more) – it is time to put aside such hatreds and move on. If you are out of work, no job and an alcoholic, STOP blaming others and look in the mirror – stop using history as an excuse to linger on welfare. I think many Australians admire aborigines who have risen above all this and have acquired a sense of discipline and self respect through hard work and achievement. If one (anyone) does not have self respect, why would you expect others to respect you? It won’t happen. Some of the most xenophobic and homogenous races on earth are Asian, eg Japan and China. The middle east (especially Lebanese and Saudi Arabian) societies’ intolerance of people of other religions is well documented and, yes, their ongoing misogyny is not tolerated here (in Australia) and never will be. That is not to say that ALL people from the middle east are misogynistic by nature but history has shown unfortunate links between south-western Lebanese gangs to ongoing drug-related crime and the cruel targeting of western women. To say that this will not have a very negative impact on the way ordinary Australians feel about young, disenfranchised Lebanese youth is optimistic at best. It is now up to THEM to try to reach out and show some respect to the hand that feeds them. I worked in Bankstown for many years and, sadly, noticed a lot of damage done in that area by racial hatreds against Australians. Racism and intolerance works both ways and, in my experience, Australians are among the most tolerant people on earth. Whilst, it is true, things are not perfect (they never will be), Australians (generally) are incredibly egalitarian and willing to give everyone a fair go. However, if you cross a line, and attack our women, our way of life and our culture – watch out! It’s strange that John Oliver would target Australia with such a racist comment because in this country we have NEVER had the American history of government condoned enslavement of black communities, nor the Klu Klux Klan nor the current growing formation of so many hate groups so prevalent in north America. Racism (in America) is well documented and quite hostile. Whilst white, middle class America may deny they are racist, I witnessed intolerance against Mexicans and blacks. It must be said that such intolerance was also directed AGAINST white Americans as well – it works both ways. I would like to say to John Oliver (and others), clean up your OWN backyards before you point a finger at Australia! Your glass house is stained with a long, long history of intolerance and ongoing racism so it is extremely unfair to single Australia out. Likewise, stop accusing Caucasian/white races of being the ONLY racists! Intolerance and irrational racism is felt by people from ALL colours and races and throughout many communities. Australia is not perfect but in this country, Australians (generally) are very laid back and tolerant. The notorious White Australian Policy is long gone and we are now one of the most successful multicultural societies on earth. We are famous for our INCLUSION of many races – not for EXCLUSION. I am very proud of the progress Australia has made over the last 200 years and extremely grateful for the substantial contribution migrants (from all over the world) have made to help make Australia the great country it is today.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 2:49 pm | Link

      I can hear a deep rumbling, I think it is the sound of several elephants leaving the room. Thank you Kathryn, that was quite some speech.

      • Kathryn May 15, 2013, 6:20 pm | Link

        WOW, Bob! I hope I haven’t started a stampede here! xx

    • Warwick May 15, 2013, 3:00 pm | Link

      Kathryn,
      Wonderful! Splendid! Superb! Right to the heart of the matter across a wide range of points!

    • Lui May 15, 2013, 9:41 pm | Link

      so true! In my view, what you pointed is so true.
      To be honest, the first time ever I even got close to someone racist, I won’t mention but it wasn’t white.
      Simply saying: narrow minded people are in all classes, colors, races and cultures.()

  • Lui May 15, 2013, 1:49 am | Link

    wow, great comments here!
    Brazil,although not thought much of it is a country with a huge ethnic diversity.It’s is a country filled by migrants coming mainly form EU,Japan and Africa.Today there’re much more variety but discussion about ‘where you come from’ seems to not be a matter,as most of people had even their parents born inland.
    Now talking about how someone ‘can look physically’ different than the majority,of course the asian looking people in Brazil had to accept jokes towards ‘how different their eyes’ look in comparison to the more ’rounded ones’.I have seen it all: people who really had not a single pain about it and people who said Brazil was racist.
    To start with the fact that many of my friends were half japanese and it wasn’t a problem to nickname them ‘japa’.The same for a blond person being automatically called ‘alemao’ which simply means ‘german’.A black person being called ‘nego’ or ‘mulato’ or ‘neguinho’,what means not insult at all but instead even highlights a positive physical feature.Even famous singers are called ‘neguinho’ etc.The same when the black people always called me ‘braquelo’ which means ‘too white’ hahaha They were my best childhood friends,never I ever heard any problem in the suburb or among each other being treated as ‘racism’.

    I really think that if you look different from the locals(wherever you go)people will try to open a door for talking, become friends and usually will poke you. If someone has already some ‘issues’ or problems with self-esteem then it can turn to be misinterpreted.

    I heard people insulting each other with sometimes ‘not correct terms’ towards someone,but surely the same person after calmed down was friends again.

    Unless someone really hurts you directly, insults you, your family and make a big deal of it, then racism should be considered.

    I don’t know, I guess some people think that once they arrive in a new country they will automatically gain much respect. It takes time till locals get used to a foreign presence ….even if it wasn’t a foreigner, we all know that anything or anyone that is new to us, or around our family we become slight skeptical. Nothing wrong with that.

    cheers everyone.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 2:17 pm | Link

      I get what you are saying, there is such a thing as “friendly racism”. If someone says to you “hey, too white, how’s it going?” – that really should be regarded as being friendly, not racists.

      On the other hand though, “Oi, too white, go back to where you came from, will ya?” is a different thing altogether.

  • UkAussi May 15, 2013, 12:55 am | Link

    I found many of the comments interesting and often spot-on for many “western” countries.
    We emigrated from the UK to Oz in ’73 and I lived there 7 years until my mum decided she wanted to go back. I do not remember a lot of racism in school except when I first arrived being called a “pommie” and then later in high school the Italians and Greeks often throwing insults at each other (ironically it seems your current PM was 2 years above me at that high school). As I was on the soccer team and the football team I mingled with all backgrounds. I also played for the local footie club outside of school and my best mate was an aborigine, but he went to private school and ironically had a “posh” English accent. I also don’t remember there being any issues when I was around him either but then again he was not the “norm”.
    Having grown up in both the UK and Australia, and then moving to the US in ’94 where I currently live, I will whole heartedly agree that you absolutely MUST accept and merge into the culture and day-to-day way of life of the country you decide to live in. If you try to impose your cultural or religious beliefs in a manner that upsets the norm in a negative manner then I believe you should stop. As a 2x immigrant I also very strongly believe that if you have no intention of doing this then you should not bother moving to that country and if you have alreday moved you should consider leaving. Would this be considered racist?
    I experienced a lot of this in Yorkshire when I came back from Australia. My fathers work (arcade video games) meant he visited many shops and stores owned and run by many different cultures. I often went with him at weekend to help out. Many were friendly and had embraced UK culture but there were some that stuck to their old ways and often said things that were racist against English people.
    I also see the same t hing here in the US, especially after briefly moving to Texas for 3 years. Society is “old” in the southern states with “old” beliefs that have not kept up with modern society.
    So coming back around to Australia, I think much of what is discussed is based on culture and often it is the older generation that tend to be less “forgiving” or “Understanding” of non-caucasian immigrants as they were part of the “keep Australia white” movement after the war when bringing over people from Britain.
    Indeed, the only real form of discrimination I saw in Australia in the 70’s was that women were not allowed in bars, alhough kids weren’t either 🙂
    We will find out soon as we will be migrating from the US to Australia later this year. My wife and kids are US born and raised but in California so they are open to other cultures and have had neighbors that were Korean, Indian, African-American etc so my kids have been brought up to not be racist

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 1:51 pm | Link

      It will be interesting to see how much you think Australia has changed since you were last here, maybe you can come back and let us know.

  • Jesse Aru May 15, 2013, 12:48 am | Link

    Hi all!
    A very interesting subject, I must say.
    Back in Finland, Australians and any outsiders, for that matter, were treated with the upmost respect, I hardly ever heard racism, and I wasn’t usually racist at all. And, to be extremely blunt, when I first arrived here in Sydney, and I’m sure not generalising, but when I said a word that wasn’t English, most people smirked and jeered. I have a long history of welcoming foreigners into Finland by teaching them Finnish with pictures, I’m still in contact with a Czech man I met when he was 12 and couldn’t speak Finnish or English, which I taught him :). Well, not a single person was that kind here in Sydney – I was lucky I learned English before I got here 😀 . Well, as time has gone by, and I’ve settled into Australian culture (again I’m not naming anyone or anything), but I’ve tended to become a lot more racist. Does this mean that Australia is racist? Certainly not, but perhaps outsiders disrupt the flow of a certain culture. Whenever someone talks highly of their country directly (eg. ‘My country is better than Australia’), then I can’t help but say something like ‘Then why don’t you go back there if its so perfect’. Maybe racism is generated because our society is simply so perfect culturally, that a change in it would upset some people, causing racism. It is deep, pyschological stuff, but there is a plain answer. Is Australia racist? No, just proud of our great culture. 🙂

    Hope you guys have a great day!
    -Jesse Aru
    PS: If I offended anyone, I’m really sorry, I’m not intending to; the topic of racism often makes posts hard to make without dodging actual racism itself.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 1:46 pm | Link

      That’s kind of it, in my view. If people come here to Australia, wherever they come from, speak the English language, get involved and love this country, they become “Australian”.

      Those who cannot speak English, keep themselves amongst themselves and criticise Australia just aren’t going to be accepted.

      I don’t think that’s racism, that’s more like “if you don’t like us, we won’t like you!”

      • Jesse Aru May 15, 2013, 4:08 pm | Link

        Exactly, we don’t want haters in our country, because unlike lots of others, Australia hasn’t been ruined by anything and never will be 🙂

  • Pip May 15, 2013, 12:47 am | Link

    The key is integration. Without that it’s all for nought. If a child’s peers are from every walk of life they will form there own views and not take on those of there parents.
    Unfortunately this is not the case everywhere. Many schools still encourage a form of segregation whether it be caused by religion, location, social or financial standing. But one day those who embrace all races and creeds will outnumber those who do not. And the easiest way to help this along is through our kids.

    Except people from Lancashire, they can bugger off, wrong side of the Pennines and all! 😉

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 1:40 pm | Link

      Ah, my next post…. Is Lancashire Racist?

  • russell May 15, 2013, 12:27 am | Link

    My apoologies, my post wasn’t a critisism of you or the person that wrote it. I was only accepting the offer to comment.

    Unfortunately it always seems to go quiet when the issue of discrimination of australia’s first people gets raised and I wonder how long that can continue?

    Still, aboriginal people have been putting up with it for 200 years so I guess things aren’t going to change too soon.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 1:38 pm | Link

      No need to apologise, I was just pointing it out, that was all.

  • Bala May 15, 2013, 12:15 am | Link

    Pip,

    I was just stuck on your last paragraph for a long long while, because, to me, this is what it will and it should all come down to. You have managed to implicitly convey a lot more than the two sentences represent.

    Today’s younger generation will become tomorrow’s movers of the society – towards both economic and social evolution and progress. Their beliefs will uphold the foundation on which the society of their days will rest upon. Their understanding of human race as a whole will set trends for laws and rules to be formulated. It is therefore extremely important that the younger generation is guided in the right direction on aspects that are considered sensitive and controversial today. Unfortunately, in India, young generation is often made victim of wrong guidance, resulting in the problem getting accentuated than mitigated on several occasions.

    For an Indian looking to migrate to Australia, it is pleasing and reassuring for me to know, that racism is becoming a non-existent concept among the younger generation. Although, some of our friends could say this is not always the case in all places, your observation still gives hope that gradually, majority of the younger generation will head in the right direction at some point in the future.

    Cheers
    Bala

  • Warwick May 14, 2013, 11:23 pm | Link

    There is someone downstairs who plays music at high volume at his all-night parties. I have asked him to turn the volume down but he takes no notice. I dislike this man. He is black American. Is my dislike racism?

    I went once to Kuta Beach in Bali and I encountered so many drunken louts, (Australian) that I turned on my heel and walked away. Is this racism?

    I encountered huge numbers of drunken, loutish, Australians and New Zealanders around Earls Court in London. To remark on the prevalence of these off-putting drunks; is that racism?

    Around 1989 there were large demonstrations in Tiennerman Square in Beijing and the Chinese government put them down with rifle fire and tanks. To condemn this action as cruel (as Bob Hawke did at the time); is this racism?

    We have to be able to distinguish between behaviour of which we disapprove and behaviour which we endorse, otherwise we would have no sense of what is good and beneficial and what is wicked and destructive, we would be idiots.

    As I have remarked previously, Kathy Freeman was adored and celebrated more than any other Australian in my lifetime, and Jimmy Little has been loved and respected all over the country. especially in the rural areas. When people behave in ways that capture our hearts we love and respect them, regardless of their race. And if their behaviour is aggressive and exclusionary we dislike them, no matter what their race.

    And if you go to the streets of Sydney and Melbourne you find people from all over Europe, Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East who treat each other with respect and affection. There are not so many Africans but those whom I meet seem to fit in very well. This country is an extra-ordinary melting pot, you only have to open your eyes to see it.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 4:27 pm | Link

      Point well made Warwick, it is mostly about respect. Earning it and showing it.

  • Pip May 14, 2013, 10:19 pm | Link

    I have been over here for around 2 years and I have heard racists comments. Usually along the lines of “We don’t mind you brits, we just don’t need anymore black fellas”, and usually from the older generation. This is no different to the UK or any nation. People fear what they don’t understand and race is an easy target for blaming a countries ills.
    Saying that, I’d say the migrants can be as racist as any Aussie is.
    Any opinion is formed through experience. So while it’s easy as people from a rich country to pour scorn upon those who we believe to be small minded racists. It’s also unfair when they may have had real life experiences before coming and there opinions, however racist to us, are founded. A Tibetan may have a certain view of the Chinese for instance. This is racism, but based on years of abuse and real life experience. The same could be said of a White Zimbabwean farmer who’s family were wiped out, no matter what you say he isn’t going to like the people he perceives as responsible for that act. Survivors of the British Raj will no doubt have a certain view of English people.
    Racism will be wherever people are different. The best we can do is not be party to it ourselves.
    As for the younger generation in Australia I see it as one of the most integrated I have ever witnessed. My children have friends from every work of life. And racism is a complete mystery to them.

    • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 11:51 pm | Link

      So true Pip, so true.

      My parents would be in their 90s now if they were still alive, God rest them. But they, I’m afraid to say, were a little bit racist, quietly, as were most of their generation. It just was how it was.

      This was during the days when Enoch Powell was ranting on about “rivers of blood” in the UK, how we have all moved on since then.

      Kids today live in multicultural societies and for the most part don’t even seem to notice that their friends look quite different. There is hope for the future.

      I think somewhere earlier in this thread in a mad moment I likened and racism to smoking. Everybody used to smoke, not so many people do now and and one day, hopefully, nobody will smoke.

      Oh dear, now I’ve said it again!

  • Paulo May 14, 2013, 10:02 pm | Link

    Dear Bob,
    Thank you for your web. Regarding the Indian yoga teacher, please note that his students are not the Average Australian. They are interested in yoga, health, and probably with a great sensitivity to education and refugee issues. And, as the yoga student stereotype… probably vegetarians. I’m not saying that this is bad, not at all… my view is that you yoga teacher has a distorted view about the real Australia and he is only dealing with the best of the lot.

    • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 11:13 pm | Link

      Funnily enough, that thought crossed my mind as well, but I think we have to assume that Chandru’s life isn’t all about going to work, teaching yoga and then coming home again.

      He has compared his life here in Australia with his former life in India and, well, you have seen what he has said about it. I think we should credit him with having a wider social life than just mingling with a load of health fanatics.

      Cheers!

  • russell May 14, 2013, 9:43 pm | Link

    Hi bob.

    I’m english and after 7.5 years in Brisbane also now a true blus aussie (with a paassport no less!). The citizenship ceremony was welcoming and fantastic, I love the fit when people stand up for the national anthem at football and rugby matches and that people seem to be keen to see you do well.

    But, but…there are elements of racism and possibly a lack of national confidence/ belief that are at odds with the “go for it” positive attitude that is a joy to be around.

    You mentioned cathy freeman and jimmy little as examples of an australi embracing its first people. I wonder if these two people would agree with you and I suspect not. There is discrimination against aboriginal people – the nothern territory intevention is a good example – one law for whites and another for “them”. Its aparthaid and South Africa was condemed and frozen out by the rest of the world for it not such a long time

    The national fixation about the boat people is a good example of not the facts get in the way of cheap talk.. If you compare the 100s of thousends of people like me and you who come here every year to live, or the 50000 odd students who overstay their visas every year, to the handfull of famailies that risk their lives in tiny boats to escape war and death, the complete issue is a non starter and the “pollies” (see I’m true blue now) should be ashamed of themselves.

    Australia is a great country – one of the newest with the oldest living culture. Its an exciting place to be for all sorts of reasons and its time for australia to embrace its uniqueness, value its indigeonous culture and people and mov forwards with confidnece

    • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 11:10 pm | Link

      I didn’t mention Cathy Freeman or Jimmy Little, that was somebody else. As for boat people, I’ve mentioned earlier in this thread somewhere that I think that’s a separate issue.

  • John May 14, 2013, 9:10 pm | Link

    Is Australia racist? No mate we hate every one who interferes with our way of life, just like all others. Jest dont change the way we live. we are in paradise if you dont stuff it up bringing along baggage from your old country….Dont 1)import radical religion, 2)dont have ideas to change good things and 3) respect out lovely women who live in awe of our husbands who can pick up a job like that 4) dont believe 3 as we are on the international skids due to political job exporters. 5) vote no for council recognition as local government, its whats made Australia great…funding means power to control local council from Canberra

    • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 11:38 pm | Link

      That, more or less, is what I tell people as well John. I think anyone who comes here and immerses themselves in the Australian way of life, embraces Australia and acts Australian, will become Australian.

      Anyone who comes here and tries to change Australia into how it was wherever they came from is not can be well thought of.

      Cheers!

      Bob

    • jan July 13, 2014, 2:18 pm | Link

      For God’s sake to John….. what in the world do you mean by “our way”? if yor way is wrong, whether or not you ca see that your way is wrong, EVERYONY and ANYONE has a right to try to change your way of doing things; not your way of thinking or believing, just your way of DOING THINGS. Get real and get into the 20ith century Mf. Neanderthanal.

  • David Berger May 14, 2013, 9:08 pm | Link

    Well, I’m a new Aussie permanent resident, currently doing some voluntary work in India. If you want a racist society then this is it. The caste system is one of the most shocking forms of apartheid you will ever come across. Why did we boycott and pressure South Africa and allow this horror to continue in India?

    Australia is one of the most fair-minded countries you will find. Are there racists? Yes. Is it perfect? No. Is it overall a fantastic place with a positive attitude of ‘fair go’? Yes.

    • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 11:15 pm | Link

      Exactly what Chandru said when he compared his old life in India to his current life here in Australia, thanks David!

    • reader July 13, 2014, 6:38 am | Link

      @David Berger: you obviously don’t understand the meaning of the word “racist.” India has strong caste discrimination – but it’s not about race. It’s based on caste. A low caste Indian is exactly the same race as a high caste Indian. Maybe a high caste Indian has paler skin, but their race is the same. India’s problem is social and economic discrimination, not racial discrimination. Whereas, in South Africa, discrimination and oppression was based on race. The only similarity is that in India as in South Africa, one’s position (class, in India, and race in South Africa) are set at birth, by one’s heritage, and nothing that person does can change it.

      • UKAussi July 13, 2014, 11:01 am | Link

        “reader” you should also educate yourself as you are only partially correct.

        From the UNITED NATIONS:-

        the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

        I have had many friends who have come from India for many different reasons and those that adapt are always friendly and have many friends of other cultures. I have seen this growing up in the UK in the USA and also Australia.
        If you try to stuff your culture and beliefs from your country of origin on your new country they will often be resisted, sometimes violently as found in the UK over the past 50 years or so

  • Fred Glover May 14, 2013, 9:05 pm | Link

    Australia, sadly, has got that reputation. Not gross I hope, but clearly so. Especially regarding Aboriginal people. It is a sad thing and awful. Laws to help deter / stop it should be very strong. Some places and people are like the old US southern states were (re black people), but worse, is current in OZ.

  • John May 9, 2013, 8:21 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    I’m Dutch and well over 10 years here and on a regular basis I am confronted with racial comments. You would not really expect that, I mean, being also white skinned and speaking/writing the English language perfectly.

    My personal opinion is that there is a clear division in society.

    There is the normal individual who you meet on the street who all finds it very interesting to meet somebody from Dutch decent. In the worse case, you are called arrogant because you are too direct. But in 99% of the cases it is really an individual who is interested in where you are coming from and who really would like to know if we all stick our fingers in the dyke. FYI: We are smarter than that.

    But then there is the business and work environment, which is much different. Got a master degree and I am excluded out of any job although I got the most skills and experience. My company is excluded from government business opportunities. QLD State and local government are supporting local … yes sure … as long as you are not a foreigner. To any overseas person who is planning to start his own business, I would say be extremely cautious in investing money. You are not wanted here, you are considered taking Aussie jobs just like the illegal boatpeople. Being a tourist is just fine, but that is where the line is.

    Thru my business contacts in the USA and Europe, I know that doing business here is avoided as much as possible. Large companies prefer to “drop” their continent offices in Malaysia, Singapore or Hong Kong and let the call centres there cope with the racial Aussies.

    I know at least one GP who went back to Holland. Before he came here, he had a own practise for well over 18 years. Arriving here, he had to have a “buddy” for a year from QLD Health. Not really funny, if you consider that our health care is better than Australia. Frustrated with his kids being bullied @ an expensive grammar school he returned after a year.

    So there is a problem … but not where you would expect it to be.

    Australia is great for retirement and when you don’t have to earn your keep as a foreigner. Best place on Earth. Otherwise stay @ home.

    • BobinOz May 11, 2013, 12:57 am | Link

      Sorry to hear you have had such a bad experience in Australia, and I’m not suggesting that for you it wasn’t bad, but I would suggest that for the vast majority it just doesn’t turn out like this.

      25% of this nation are immigrants and a huge percentage of those are working here, either for the man or for themselves. It’s simply cannot be the case that foreigners are excluded.

      Your final sentence is wide of the mark as well, Australia isn’t great for retiring,especially if you’re British what with the weak pound and a frozen pension. But it is a great place for those of us who are still working though, and I can point you in the direction of hundreds and thousands of people who came here from many different countries and are certainly glad that they did not stay @ home.

      • John May 14, 2013, 10:21 pm | Link

        Simply explained my personal experiences. Your response is mostly the common defence for racial discrimination, saying you don’t believe it because you don’t experience it towards yourself. The strong dollar is not an issue for non-economical retirees with a good pension or superannuation from overseas.

  • Bala May 4, 2013, 1:23 am | Link

    Wonderful topic!
    I am not yet in Australia, but I thought I should contribute my two cents to this topic. To me, the underlying cause is man’s inability to acknowledge difference and racism is just one dimension in which this inability manifests itself. Difference could exist at various levels – between two races, or two sub-sects within the same race, or between people within the same sub-sect hailing from two different regions, or even between two neighbours of the same race, or even further, two brothers in the same family. The problem arises only when either of the sides gathers mass, and becomes strong enough for the other side to feel insecure and threatened. With what I gather, Australia definitely should be having one or more of the levels I have mentioned above and there will be difference if that is the case. In my honest opinion, racists are no different from others except for the fact that they express their thoughts openly and others just hide it. A manager who has racist thoughts, but pretends to treat everyone equally on the outside is no different from a manager who openly expresses his racist views, but only the latter gets tagged as ‘racist’. It is important to focus on removing racist thoughts from our minds, rather than focusing on racists, as racists are only a subset of the whole volume of people having racist views. That is when true inclusive culture and equality will prevail.
    I hail from India, a country that is so diverse, that the food, clothing, languages, customs, beliefs, festivals and almost everything else varies with every few tens of kilometers. Differences bordering on racism exists at every level we could imagine (partly due to the inherent design of the societal framework) and appreciation of diversity also co-exists along with it. I am confident that Australia has much lesser population and lesser complexities to handle, in spite of the growing migrant population. I have just initiated the immigration process for Australia, but my inner conscience says, whenever I get there, I am more likely to meet friendlier Australians than aggressive ones, more Aussies who are willing and forthcoming to offer help, than the ones who are defensive and close-minded, provided, I do my part in reaching out to understand and appreciate their way of life.

    Happy to be corrected wherever I am wrong!

    Cheers
    Bala

    • BobinOz May 5, 2013, 9:46 pm | Link

      Bala

      Thank you, I think you’re insight into racism is pretty accurate, it’s not just black and white, if you’ll excuse the double meaning of that, but it goes much deeper and can go into levels so complex that an outsider would not understand how racism could occur in that situation.

      As you mentioned, in India people living within a close distance of each other may be racist against their neighbours and for someone not part of that complex setup, they would never understand why.

      From your attitude, I think you will get on just fine here in Australia and make many friends, and I certainly hope that is how it turns out for you.

      Do let us know how it goes when you get here.

      Cheers

      Bob

    • Fred Glover May 14, 2013, 9:18 pm | Link

      What about the Boat People policy, crude and ‘immigration detention centers’ (camps). This is current policy and is shameful. Only dangerous people belong in what are prisons like this, and never children. Besides that yes many Australians are friendly but politically too conservative or ‘detached’ in these areas (social justice).

  • Luiz May 3, 2013, 9:42 pm | Link

    Hard topic!
    IMHO Boat people inspiring some ‘anger’ in many aussies’ heart has to do with the fact that ‘boat people’ comes in thru the wrong door. They act more like ‘colonizers’ arriving with their ships and ideas. And, I’m kind of sure that many aussies whinge about this problem in a way that goes close to ‘racism’ but many mean discontentment, which usually isn’t easy to express thru decent words.It’s hard to say: ‘oh, these ‘lovely’ people’…..arriving here to claim a better life’, when Australia in one way or another is trying to keep up with the hard to work on keeping a decent society. We all get angry at people that break laws that we ourselves make big effort to respect, i.e: traffic, commuting, etc… AND, this not mention that, as we think in certain way, have been educated in certain way, it doesn’t apply for many people from other countries, they have a completely different idea of what they are OR not allowed. Yes, I did travel, worked and lived for a while in shanty towns in Brazil also known as ‘favelas’ and have talked to many Romanians that migrated to the UK. There’s a pattern of behavior, of beliefs, of what is important to achieve, so that say while we are thinking of ‘getting a recognized education, finding a work, pay taxes and live a decent life’ many are more concerned only about on ‘how to make it thru another day’ Without generalization of course. As I’m not only talking about my own frail mind here, there are many videos about it and in one of them, I watched how many people from less developed asian countries finding a way to get the Australian immigrant camp somewhere (sorry if I’m not 100% correct in this name) Indonesia south where many believe that arriving in Australia they will receive house, food and a wonderful life.
    It’s there, anyway can hear and see this lady and many other believing that Australia is giving free house to all refugees. Now, you say: ‘stupid people’. Well, can be true, but can also be the only reality they have in their heads. Not being able to spell their own names, believing that in Australia everywhere is rich, not even being able to imagine how taxes, qualifications, dominance of english language and other endless requirements that an Oz citizen or any other person has to get thru just to assure a ‘decent’ life.
    We can’t expect for the last thing here, that many aussies that lived a calm life in the more remote areas far from modernization won’t feel intimidated with a huge influx of so ‘different looking’ people, with different facial expression, behave, clothing… let’s be honest: if an UFO land this afternoon on our lawn, we would surely say first things like: ‘ugly, weirdo, unfriendly, retard, enemy, taking our jobs and so on’…. or worse. We all have problems accepting immediate ideas and immediate presence of different ones,but,as we are more into cultural diversity, ‘open minded’ education, we learn to respect, not judge and accept, but people living distant will judge as fast as they can in order to also feel protected.

    I never felt offend when in Ireland, not once,but many times youth asking me ‘what was I doing in their country’… well, it’s true.They born there, they think it belong to them.But I also saw how many were just interested and didn’t know appropriated way of starting a chat. The final story was, I was sort of ‘interrogated’ but I ended up with many mates, not a single problem when comes to ‘boys sorting things out’. . . although I was asked, but I did respect them, their cultures and didn’t throw my ‘rubbish’ on their minds.
    respect respect respect … one gotta earn it (law says everyone deserves)

    • BobinOz May 4, 2013, 12:47 am | Link

      Yes, it is a hard topic Luiz.

      You’ve made some interesting points, but let me see if I’ve got this straight.

      You come from Brazil, you’ve been around a bit, but now you’re living here in Australia? You have experience some kind of racial tension here in Australia that you didn’t come across in Ireland, but you think that these problems have all been overcome as you get to know people here better, talk and sort things out?

      It’s a matter earning respect and respecting others and their cultures?

      If that’s what you’re saying, it would make sound sense to me, but do tell me, have I summed up what you’re thinking?

      Cheers

      Bob

      • Luiz May 6, 2013, 1:42 am | Link

        Hi Bob,

        Thanks for paying interest.
        You did summarized yes.
        Well,it’s a complex talk of ideas that by writing, seems to not be the best way of expressing myself.

        Not even talking about law, respecting other people in general has not even to do with culture or religion, but a must that proves that we have left the ‘primitive ages’.
        That makes me believe that overall respect to decent people is a must.Then when comes to ‘deeper relationship’ of any other form(beyond casual or daily/social) I think then ‘earning’ respect takes time.That for example can be a neighbor that just moved in the house next door,dressing with different clothes etc.We obviously will respect,make even an effort to get acquainted and try to become friends(unless a person would seem to be dodgy of course).If friendship starts, then people open a bit more to each other,I think the ‘respect’ issue comes into play, as the differences comes up,and we may not be willing to not eat a steak in case our religion says no to meat. You know Bob, it’s too complex to right,it’s a good chat for a ‘biergarten’ afternoon. Just to finilized this long line, what I mean is,for different reasons, lack of time, many many people simply turn to aggressive comments towards people with different cultures due the lack of time for that approach to happen.In the middle of the hurricane of emotions, being busy, tired and even speculated that foreigners are ‘grabbing’ too much local jobs, people open the mouth without looking into their hearts.So i dont’ really believe that even many people that make ‘racist’ comments are even racist in their hearts.Just like happened in Ireland, they were just curious, but the lack of experience let them to use the regular approach: ‘what are you doing in my land/country’.

        Not living in Oz so yet,however the 4 close friends and the constant research, mates from Oz in the UK gave me a lot of what’s going on down under.

        In conclusion: I still struggle to believe that there are high levels of racism in Oz,even because, every country has the racists.Every country has people unable to approach their own race.So yes, there’s racism in Oz but still, the way we outsiders decide to lead the situation can result on different results. Reflecting violence of violence won’t make it any better at most of the times.
        The best thing anyway is that most of the people in general aren’t racist.And people who comes into any other country other than their own, should anyway open up their mind,focus on the good, not on what the country has ‘bad’. Respecting the local culture and don’t compare: ‘here the teens are loud mouthed’ ….comparing will just make a person live in Oz but with their minds back in their home country, of course they won’t settle down.Again,it resumes in respect.
        Just do not think that people should accept someone new just to not be called a racist. It doesn’t matter where you from, you need to remember to fit in the local system. In germany, I struggle so much as my german wasn’t decent enough, so how could I even think that people were racist when it is not anyone this treatment? some people just like anyway to victimize themselves.

        cheers.

        many thanks

        Luiz

        • BobinOz May 6, 2013, 2:42 pm | Link

          “…most of the people in general aren’t racist.” – No, I agree with you here, they definitely are not. Racism is in the minority and, as you point out, even that can be overcome by building trust and respecting others, and above all, as you say “Respecting the local culture and don’t compare…”

          Thanks Luiz!

          Bob

          • Fred Glover May 14, 2013, 9:15 pm | Link

            Depends what you mean by ‘most people’ ? even if 20% are racist that is a LOT of people. Australia has a internationally known shameful record regarding Aboriginals. Not so bad for say Italians, etc. But why so crude about black people and sometimes Asian people. Very few people ever stuck up for Aboriginals even more so than American Indians, etc. They were ‘broken’ by white people coming here (men mostly) is a way that was awful and cruel. Children taken away, denies rights, work, and most of all – human understanding. Australia is in many ways a fantastic place but this aspect is not and never was, one of the good things about OZ.

            The other thing I loathe about OZ is ‘bottle shops’ god are they bad or what? very few countries have them. People park their cars inside them, still running, fumes everywhere, really backward / old fashioned. Maybe also too many flies, . . . and lastly – houses are rip off prices compared to USA. But still really like OZ mostly. All countries have poor aspects, Australia has many good points, but not the ‘lucky or fair country’ for some for sure.

            • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 11:03 pm | Link

              I’m talking about a small minority, much smaller than 20%, in my opinion.

              I’ve never seen a car ‘inside’ a bottle shop, surely you mean the drive-through bit, you know, not too different from a McDonald’s drive-through. Can’t see much wrong with that!

  • Michael April 30, 2013, 2:40 am | Link

    Why is it, the only group that still have “jokes” told about them and which society generally doesn’t see as a problem is the Irish.
    It’s not acceptable to tell jokes about disabled people, homosexuals, mother-in-laws and all the other minority groups which were targeted and ridiculed in the “old” days of main stream comedy, yet the Irish are still fair game. Did jokes about Thick Mick fail to register on the Politically Correct radar?

    • BobinOz April 30, 2013, 6:27 pm | Link

      Do people still do those Irish jokes then? I have to say, I haven’t heard a Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman joke for many a year, or for that matter anything derogatory about the Irish. Does it still happen and here in Australia?

      Funnily enough I do have a fair bit of Irish blood, but nobody would know I was Irish from my accent, so I’ve never been the butt of an Irish joke.

      • David T. Irvine May 15, 2013, 1:20 am | Link

        Hi Bob, Good to see your column again, I’ve missed it. So here is an Irish joke sent to me here in the US by an Aussie bicycling buddy who lives in Loganholme when he is not pedaling in the US or elsewhere.

        Paddy’s Fingers

        Paddy was working at the fish plant in Cork when he accidentally cut off all 10 of his fingers.
        He went to the emergency room in Cork’s hospital.
        The doctor looked at Paddy and said. ‘Lets be avin’ da fingers and I’ll see what oi can do’
        Paddy said, ‘Oi haven’t got da fingers.’
        ‘Whadda ya mean you haven’t got da fingers? Lord Tunderin’ Jesus, it’s 2013! We’s got microsurgery and all kinds of incredible techniques. I could have put dem back on and made you like new! Why didn’t ya bring da fingers?1?’
        to Paddy’s reply:
        ‘How da Heck was I ‘spose to pick them up!!!’

        I’m of Scots-Irish descent in my own ‘nation of immigrants’ and no, I’m not offended only amused, just gentle humor here, nothing vicious.
        This is just a small irrelevant aside to your very interesting conversation, feel free to delete!
        Cheers!
        DTI

        • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 2:07 pm | Link

          With jokes like that, I suspect we all have a choice, we can choose to be offended or we can laugh. It is easier to laugh, but I suspect that gets harder and harder if you’re the butt of the jokes every day.

          Anyway, even though I have a bit of Irish blood in me, I’ll leave the joke up on the basis it made me laugh:-)

          Cheers!

          • David T. Irvine May 18, 2013, 12:56 am | Link

            Well said Bob, and your point is well taken; intent versus impact.
            Best Wishes,
            DTI

  • warwick April 22, 2013, 4:19 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I’ve read your statement. And you are right about being personal and unfriendly. However, there is a very important point that perhaps I’ve not been able to make.
    The subject is racism in Australia; is there any and how much.
    If you say that the attacks against Indian students in Melbourne were racist I’d agree.
    If you point out that the Chinese and South East Asian communities in Sydney and elsewhere fit in very well without any displays of hostility on either side then I’d agree that this is entirely relevant to the subject.
    But when the subject is the criticism of the trends in the Muslim community then I think it is very important to understand that this is definitely not simple racism.
    I think that it is very important to understand that there are very strong elements within Islam, as it is practiced today, that are dangerous to a modern, democratic society.
    It is important to understand that when the Muslim numbers in a modern democratic society grow large enough there will be demands for such things a Sharia law and certain fanatical elements will try to reshape the host society in their image, rather than assimilate to the host society.
    Chinese and Vietnamese and Cambodians and Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists adapt very well here, largely adopting the prevailing customs. So do non-Muslim black Africans.
    But very many Muslims attempt to change this society to suit their narrow view of humanity and God.
    The objections raised against Muslims is NOT racist; it is an objection based on the desire to defend the social and individual liberties for which many brave men and women have fought and died.
    That is why I mention what has happened in Britain, Holland, Egypt, the Gaza Strip and America; it illustrates the nature of the radical and militant Islam that has a huge following both in Eastern and Western countries.
    I allowed my buttons to be pressed when it was stated, time and again, that to say this demonstrates that I am nothing more than a bigot.
    You know, I have made a study of various aspects of Islam which are sublimely beautiful. I have read deeply of the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz of Shiraz, both Muslims. I have looked into the philosophy that inspired these great poets. But what we have to deal with now is the form of Islam that is taught in the mosques today, and we have to differentiate between that which is relatively harmless and that which represents a threat to us, our children and our grandchildren.
    When we do this we are being no more racist than those of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation who fought and died on the Kokoda Track, resisting the Imperial Japanese Army.

    • BobinOz April 23, 2013, 4:20 pm | Link

      Warwick

      I have approved your latest comment but I would like to point out, again, that the subject is “Racism in Australia”. You are talking about “trends in the Muslim community” which you explain as being “not simple racism”.

      That said, your latest comment does have some relevance. One of the points made by Chandru in his email to me was “So, I would suggest to those who move to live here to have patience and study how they could integrate into this society at the earliest, so that those around them will feel comfortable and lend a willing hand towards their problems. This convince them of the absence of Racism.”

      That was, for me, Chandru’s most powerful statement. I believe that anyone who moves to Australia, no matter which country they came from, should make every effort to embrace the Australian way of life. If they do that, then they will make friends and they are far less likely to encounter racism, just as Chandru has stated.

      Those who choose to isolate themselves from Australians and only socialise with people from their countries of origin are going to struggle to find acceptance here. Some fanatical Muslims may well fall into that category, but they cannot be singled out as the only ones who may try to do this.

      As for what is going on in the UK regarding the imposition of Sharia law, that is not best pleasing the majority of Muslims as you will see from this article from the independent.co.uk.

      As far as that goes here in Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard last year ruled out the prospect of Sharia law becoming part of the nation’s justice system, saying the only law in the country was Australian law.

      So anyone who tries to impose Sharia law here and when that law is not the same as it is in Australian law, then they are breaking the law, just as they are in the UK. This then becomes nothing to do with racism, surely this is simply a criminal act?

      Warwick, I value your input and your comments around my website and you are clearly a very intelligent and well read man. As far as this thread is concerned, I think you have fully made your point and everyone now knows the position you have taken. As per your request on this comment, you have now made that important point that you felt you had not been able to make.

      Whether you like it or not, should you decide to continue to talk about the Muslim religion and its possible effects here in the future, I will consider your comments to be off topic. I want to hear about Italians, Chinese, French, Americans, Indians, Brits, Asians, anyone who has moved here from foreign shores and has something to say about their experiences having moved here and whether or not they feel racism affects their lives in Australia.

      So, let’s give some other people are fair go.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • BobinOz April 22, 2013, 2:18 pm | Link

    I’m afraid I have had to take the unusual step of tidying up these comments. As mentioned earlier, my one basic rule for commenting is quite simple; “Be polite, be friendly and discuss the subject of the post.”

    Quite apart from the fact that it is clear that John and Warwick are not seeing eye to eye, and therefore not being too polite or friendly, this post is about “Racism in Australia”. Therefore any talk about the United States, Egypt, Gaza, Holland or the UK is completely irrelevant.

    Warwick, in your most recent comment (now deleted) you made several allegations, I only checked one of them and found it to be unsubstantiated. Police have now arrested two friends of the woman who was attacked in Dagenham.

    I will now be monitoring all future posts from both John and Warwick, this means I get the chance to read them before deciding whether to allow them to appear online. You are both more than welcome to continue posting, but do be sure to stay on topic, otherwise you will have wasted your time.

    I would politely suggest though that you have both more than had your fair shout on this subject, I don’t think either of you has any more to add. If you would like to continue your very personal debate, you are both welcome to request each other’s email addresses and assuming that is something you both want to do, let me know and I will supply them to you.

    For the record, I have deleted 8 posts in all, primarily because they were off subject, but also for some of the reasons given above.

    Bob

  • Rupert April 21, 2013, 3:02 pm | Link

    I was accused of being “an economic refugee” the other day by an educated Melburnian woman. She’s right of course – and I had a chuckle. Well, strictly speaking, I’m not a refugee, but I wasn’t offended.

    • BobinOz April 22, 2013, 3:18 pm | Link

      I’m trying to imagine a well-to-do woman from Melbourne driving past you in a car, window wound down, waving her fists and shouting “I say old chum, get out of the way you, you, you, economic refugee!”

      Now I’m having a chuckle just thinking about it.

      • Rupert April 22, 2013, 4:06 pm | Link

        LOL – it was at a party actually (but I like your scenario better!).

        She then went on to say that too many Poms are coming to Australia and taking ‘our jobs’. I guess my point is that I’ve never been on the receiving end of prejudice before, and while it was somewhat unsettling, to my delight I found that brushing it off instead of allowing myself to be wound up by it, was the preferred option.

        As they sang in the musical ‘Avenue Q’ – “Everyone’s a little bit racist… sometimes.”

        • BobinOz April 23, 2013, 4:34 pm | Link

          As delightful as it was to brush it off on this first occasion, I imagine that if you had to answer such accusations from people every day of your life, it would soon wear a bit thin. I wonder how long it might take before you grow an imaginary button that can be easily pressed by anybody who suggests you’re just another Pom nicking an Aussie’s job.

          Something maybe all of us lucky enough not to experience racism to think about.

          • Rupert April 23, 2013, 5:11 pm | Link

            You’re absolutely right Bob. I’m lucky in that I’ve only experienced a comment like that once in the ten months I’ve been living in Sydney. I really can’t imagine what it must be like for someone who has to put up with that all the time.

            Australia, though, is a nation built on immigration (the indigenous communities notwithstanding), and with different races trying to get on in life, pursuing happiness and fulfilment, it behoves all of us to be welcoming, tolerant, and kind to all-comers.

            What’s interesting is that children are not racist – they are blind to it. They are the future. Racism will eventually wane and disappear.

            There was a fascinating documentary on SBS recently called ‘Immigration Nation’. The closing statement was along the lines of “Australia has gone from being one of the most divisive countries in the world to being one of the most inclusive.” True indeed.

            As H.G. Wells said, “Our true nationality is mankind.”

            • BobinOz April 23, 2013, 6:45 pm | Link

              In some ways, racism can be compared to smoking, can’t it?

              Years ago, especially around the time of the two world wars, almost everybody used to smoke, many of our parents were smokers. Children very rarely smoked, but some learned how to do so to appear “tough”. And then it became a habit.

              But today, smoking is largely frowned upon in the modern world, and smokers are being ostracised.

              One day, in the future, almost nobody will smoke.

              I think I’ll go and have a lie down. Cheers Rupert!

    • Lehcen December 12, 2014, 3:26 pm | Link

      HA HA HA HA this is the best comment i read. SMH

  • Steve April 21, 2013, 12:00 pm | Link

    Racism and prejudice exists in every street corner of the world – it’s human nature. I didn’t like my previous neighbour (white Aussie) because he started his Harley at 5.30am every morning. If he was black, and I made the same comments about his behaviour, I would have been construed as racists.

    I have a black friend from Nigeria. He is openly racist against black Caribbean’s because he perceives them has been not as educated as his African cousins.

    Let’s not think that racism is purely a black and white matter – it’s not. From my experience, white and English, there’s no doubt about it that the further north you venture in Australia, people are more vocal about their believes. That’s the point though, there are more vocal and don’t hide their feelings. Coming from the UK and now living in Canberra for the past two years, I would say that racism is alive and kicking, however, people do not express their opinions as openly as a North Queenslander for example.

    • BobinOz April 22, 2013, 3:16 pm | Link

      No, it’s not a black and white matter, otherwise we wouldn’t have all those “an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman walk into a bar” jokes, would we? 🙂

  • warwick April 20, 2013, 11:43 am | Link

    John,
    your stupidity is matched only by your self-righteousness and your malevolence.

    “I suggested that you wish that all the Lebanese were inherent house breakers to suit your stance”

    What kind of moronic statement is that? All Lebanese? All?
    You should keep well away from debate; you don’t have any aptitude for it; you aren’t able to see the gross logical flaws in your statements.
    Forget that you aren’t able to construct coherent sentences, in accordance with the simple rules of usage of the Queen’s English, you do little more than jibber jabber.
    “Ah racism! Warwick bad. Bad, bad, bad Warwick. That Warwick, when’s he gunna point the bone at Anglo Saxons. White people bad; bad, bad, bad. Black people good. Oooh, wonderful good. What black people do – oooh wonderful. heritage, culture, really really good. Brown people wonderful, everyone wonderful except nasty whites.”

    • BobinOz April 20, 2013, 9:42 pm | Link

      Warwick, you are out of line with this comment. I did ask everyone to read my comment policy, and if you had bothered to do that, you would have seen that there is really only one rule, “Be polite, be friendly and discuss the subject of the post.”

      You have broken that simple rule many times with your use of words like “stupidity”, “self-righteousness” and “moronic”. That kind of language is neither polite or friendly and by accusing John of not being able to construct a sentence according to the Queens English, you’ve gone completely off subject.

      By the way, in case you didn’t know, the Queen’s English died with the invention of the iPhone. Most grammar Nazis have retired, you should consider it.

      This is a debate about racism in Australia, it is not an exercise in one-upmanship. Everybody is entitled to their views, obviously certain people will not agree with each other, clearly John and yourself never will. If you want to continue in this debate, please do so by observing my comment policy and by not making it personal.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • john April 20, 2013, 7:31 am | Link

    Warwick,

    It’s convenient for you to consider anyone with different views to yourself as some kind mug, whose been duped by political correctness.

    The reasons that political correctness evolved were sound, in the not too distant past people could sexually or racially harass, or otherwise discriminate against other people in the workplace with total impunity. Unfortunately, political correctness is currently used a political point scoring tool, it’s become too divisive in society, in the UK it has actually backfired; ironically, it may have even turned some people to become less tolerant of immigrants than they were before. I’m not politically correct warwick. There are even one or two things we might have agreed upon. But there is just something about your posts…..

    I asked if the ‘colloquial’ language you condone was racist language? and suggested that you wish that all the Lebanese were inherent house breakers to suit your stance, you’ve dodged my question and comment, which says it all.

  • warwick April 20, 2013, 1:03 am | Link

    Let’s think about whether aborigines are given a fair go.
    You ever hear of Jimmy Little? Aborigine. Chocolate brown. Country singer.
    All over Australia, ordinary folk love him. Farmers,truck drivers,ringers, shearers, tradies, wherever he goes he is loved.
    Intellectuals look down on him, naturally.
    He’s a Christian, and intellectuals wouldn’t be caught dead liking Christian/country music. But ordinary Aussie folk love him.

    And Cathy Freeman. Aborigine. Dark brown. No Australian has ever been more loved than Cathy Freeman. She was, and remains, the most celebrated person in our history.

    • SS December 22, 2013, 6:42 pm | Link

      what about people like mick dodson or noel pearson or charles perkins? at least your smart enough to avoid the champion warren mundine, oh well at least jimmy little and cathy freeman have two uses for you, make you feel fuzzy inside and a tool to force your opinion, possibly agenda as I see little genuine discussion on your behalf, im sure the late jimmy little and cathy freeman appreciate your continued stigma towards their people

  • warwick April 20, 2013, 12:45 am | Link

    Hey Bob, I’m sorry.
    I thought I’d made the story so far-fetched that you’d see that it was a bit of a spoof on political correctitude. Sorry about that.

    I didn’t think there was any point using the wooden language of academics; that kind of language is ideal for motherhood statements and platitudes but it never really gets to the guts of the matter.
    Just one more thing before I go; racism is the crime de jour.
    And when you accuse someone else of racism you have implicitly established that you yourself are innocent of this crime.
    When I think of the folk who are so eager to display their political correctitude I think of Jesus’ description of the Pharisees; like whited sepulchres, gleaming on the outside but on the inside full of dead men’s bones.

  • BobinOz April 19, 2013, 10:11 pm | Link

    Well, it seems Warwick has made a statement or two that has caused a stir. I know Warwick from other comments around this website, he is clearly a very intelligent man and I respect many of his views.

    The experience he has had, and I assume it is very true, clearly wasn’t pleasant.

    What I think is great though is that both Geraldine and John have been irked by his comments, they clearly want to distance themselves from what they think are racist views. So saying no to racism is clearly alive and well here in Australia.

    Of course, I did know I would be opening a can of worms with this one 🙂

  • Geraldine April 19, 2013, 3:10 pm | Link

    Well Bob, this was always going to cause a few interesting comments. To one of the posters please don’t think all people, cultures,genders behave in a certain way. Indeed just how should my half Anglo/Burmese/Indian descent, Muslim father, Christian mother, children behave? Life is always so much more complicated than the TV or newspapers have us believe. All I know is that most folks want the same for themselves and their families irrespective of where they were born. Health, Wealth and Happiness and I wish that to everyone one here.

  • john April 19, 2013, 12:29 pm | Link

    Warwick

    The person who invaded your home could have been white, house breaking isn’t exclusive to the Lebanese, although I suspect you wish it were.

  • warwick April 19, 2013, 10:25 am | Link

    I woke up in the middle of the night to hear a noise in the living room.
    I got up and investigated. In the living room there was a young man going through the drawers in my desk.
    I shone a strong flashlight into his face and I said, “Just stay exactly where you are or I’ll blow you away,” and I called triple zero on my mobile phone.
    The guy said, “Don’t call the police. I’ll give you money and jewellery if you don’t call the police.”
    I said, “You’re offering me money and jewellery that you’ve probably stolen from neighbours? What kind of scum are you?”
    He said, “Please sir, it is not my nature to be a thief, there are social aspects that are causal factors in my adopting this profession.”
    I said, “You are a big strong man. The woman who cleans here twice a week is a small Australian and she works till the sweat pours down her face. I am not going to buy your sob story.”
    My wife came out in her night dress and switched on the room light. She said, “Warwick, don’t get into trouble, just let him go.”
    The thief saw, when the light was turned on, that I was unarmed. He said, “I’m not going to thrash you if you put the phone down. But I’ll tell my cousins and you’ll find out that you can’t mess with the Lebanese community. You’d better shift to Queensland if you don’t want shots fired through your house in the middle of the night.”
    He looked at my wife and he said,” You don’t even have the decency to cover yourself up. Filthy Australian whore.”
    He hadn’t noticed that my grown son had entered the room behind him. My wife moved across the room and said, “You’re afraid of women, aren’t you? That’s why you keep your own women ground down. The word “Australian” is an insult in your mouth. You’ll be sent back to the miserable hell hole you came from, after you’ve served your time.”
    While this was happening my son had advanced close behind him. As he called out “You slut!” my son shouted, “Turn around, arsehole!”
    When he turned around my son punched him in the throat. He turned white and gasped and my son and I twisted his arms behind his back and tied him up.
    My son said, “I was going to hit him on the nose with the heel of my hand, but I didn’t want to get blood on your carpet. And these scum are great brothel creepers; he could easily have AIDS.”
    The police told me, after they’d arrested him and his brother, who was outside in the souped up Holden, that they’d get information to put away both of them and probably
    several of their cousins.

  • john April 19, 2013, 8:12 am | Link

    Warwick,

    ‘And if ordinary folk use colloquial language to do so that is perfect normal and acceptable.’

    I’m hoping you don’t mean racist language.

    Unfortunately, some Australians think that Aborigines are degenerate by nature. Aborigines are marginalized in this Australian society, if you were born black and Aborigine in this country, will you be given the famous Australian ‘fair go’ like the next man; that’s not even a question, because everybody knows the answer to that.
    Problems like crime or alcoholism are not skin colour or race specific, and often people don’t consider social aspects that might be causal factors.

    Bob, you mention people can be racist in working environments in the UK. Of course you’re right. I used to be self employed in the UK and my customer base was multicultural. It was interesting the amount of racist opinion I heard that was between races/cultures that were non-white. I know from experience that racism works every way you can possibly imagine.

    I read that one third of the people living here and now in Queensland were not born here. Migration rates to South East QLD are expected to in continue to increase as they have done for that last ten or fifteen years. Attitudes will change over time. it will be a very different Queensland in just one generation.

  • warwick April 18, 2013, 11:14 pm | Link

    The essence of racism is prejudice.
    It is not prejudice, or racist, to say that very many Aborigines are alcoholics; it s just a statement of common knowledge.
    Nor is it prejudiced, or racist, to observe that most organized crime in sydney is run by Lebanese; criminology experts routinely produce the statistics.

    Nor is it prejudiced to state that Muslims restrict the freedoms of their wives and daughters: Muslims think that liberal Australians are in the grip of Satan for allowing Australian women and girls to wear revealing clothes on the beach and the athletics field.

    Different races and nationalities have different ways of thinking and living and it is not racist to discuss and evaluate those differences.
    And if ordinary folk use colloquial language to do so that is perfect normal and acceptable.

    There is a certain amount of anti-Semitism here; it is the Australian version of the fierce condemnation of Israel and “international Jewry” that is prevalent amongst the left-liberal, politically correct, academic and journalistic chattering classes all around the world.
    .

    • ariana April 19, 2013, 10:28 pm | Link

      ” Nor is it prejudiced to state that Muslims restrict the freedoms of their wives and daughters: Muslims think that liberal Australians are in the grip of Satan for allowing Australian women and girls to wear revealing clothes on the beach and the athletics field.”

      I disagree with this comment. This statement is written as an objective fact. However my own personal experience with numerous friends who are Muslim is vastly different. Because of this, I do not feel this comment is factual, I feel it is based on personal opinion.

      I feel this comment also makes an assumption about what all Muslim people think, as this point of view is not held by my own Muslim friends. Regardless of whether Warwick’s personal experience with people of the Muslim faith supports his statement, I feel it is inaccurate to state this must then be applicable to all Muslims.

      • BobinOz April 21, 2013, 9:36 pm | Link

        Fair point Ariana, I’ve already said you can’t pigeonhole a nation, you can’t do it for a whole religion either.

      • melanie May 2, 2013, 1:07 am | Link

        Yes and Warwick contradicts himself with his previous statement.

        His view is that it isn’t racist or prejudiced to say or observe that “very many Aborigines are alcoholics….” and “that most organized crime in Sydney is run by Lebanese…..” or “Muslims restrict the freedoms of their wives…” and that it’s okay to “…..discuss and evaluate those differences.”

        He then goes on to say “There is a certain amount of anti-Semitism here……”

        If it isn’t racist, prejudiced, “anti-Lebonese”, “anti-Aboriginal” or anti-Muslim to discuss the findings of experts in relation to these or any other ethnic groups, why are academics, etc who condemn Israel and international Jewry (for whatever reason) deemed to be (by him) “anti-Semites”. Aren’t they allowed to discuss and debate Israel or the diaspora? What evidence does he have that Australians are anti-semitic.

    • SS December 22, 2013, 6:24 pm | Link

      Aboriginal Australians actually drink less per capita compared to anglo australians, this is a common myth portrayed in media reports almost daily making people believe what they hear without having to do any work, if you start a sentence with lazy claims you loss any credibility, these people who spread misinformation do this nation a dis service while disempowering their followers so they make fools of themselfs, knowledge is power and your lacking, P.S. the brittish were the first boat people, no better than an iraqi of sri lankan who arrived is Aus today, remember that

    • sam September 3, 2014, 12:20 pm | Link

      your first point shows one obvious and unresearched ( tell you what to think not how to think society) statement based in racism, Aboriginal people drink less alcohol per capita than anglo-aussies, the ABS make this data hard to find but its their, cant blame someone just parroting what they are bombarded with through media, racism is subtle and can be easily brushed off as nothing when focusing on one point but it seems to permeate through many parts of society which adds up to something not so easily brushed off, this is currently where we are at, avoiding dealing with it is the easy weak way which only leaves it for our children to deal with it, where in the world has forgetting actually worked? to think we can go from an openly racist nation to a fair open society in 50 years is fanciful, we should teach children to investigate not digest, maybe our schools would actually get better outcomes instead of this constant slide in our education system

  • Bernie April 18, 2013, 4:13 pm | Link

    I can imagine that your mate Chandru from the letter above sees Australia as fair compared to India. That does not mean, however, that Australia is without racism. As you said yourself Bob, I don’t think there’s a place in the world where there is no racism.

    I’m a European immigrant to Australia but similar to you, Bob, people wouldn’t be able to tell unless I talk. I don’t encounter much rasicm towards my person.
    But what I do see a lot of what John Oliver might have meant. Comfortable racism: Anger against boat people is seen as normal (no matter what their reasons are for risking their lives in trying to come here). So is frustration with Indian call center agents. People hire a tradie for a job only to find out later he’s black – then they are surprised that he actually did a good job, and on top of that didn’t even steal anything!

    Yes Australia is a nation of immigrants and descendents of immigrants, but not necessarily free of racism. First of all, lots of immigrants or Australians with an immigration history are white Europeans. Second, most of the time racism isn’t violent here and thus harder to notice. Maybe people think that being quietly racist or non-violent racist is not all that bad… nobody really is harmed, right?

    I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. But a controversial topic indeed.

    • BobinOz April 18, 2013, 9:58 pm | Link

      Hi Bernie

      As I said to John, I think boat people are completely different situation and an even more controversial subject, in this post I’m really asking if we are racially prejudiced against people who have visas, whether temporary or permanent, to be here in Australia.

      And I would question if frustration with Indian call centre agents make somebody racist? I’ve been frustrated talking to born and bred English/Australian call centre agents! We phone these places because we need help, but because of poor training by the companies they work for, it’s like pulling teeth to try and get that help.

      Yes, very frustrating, and made much worse when it is an Indian person who does not understand what we’re saying, just in the same way that we find it difficult to understand what they are saying. It’s an accent thing. It only becomes racist when the caller believes it is all the Indian workers fault, when it’s not. It’s the poor training given by their employers.

      We all know Australia isn’t “free of racism”, but I think we all agree that no country is. It does seem to be a hotter and more controversial subject here in Australia though.

    • Nimz October 21, 2013, 11:31 am | Link

      Dinali,

      I just came across this forum by accident, but kept on reading the content until I came across you’r reply.
      On a forum that is trying to mention the fact that “Australian society are not racist” you have open the pandora’s box by mentioning about the boat people.

      As a proud Srilankan my self, I often am quick to judge those boat people giving us lankans a bad name. But what these people are going through is nothing you can ever imagine as you quite rightly pointed out.

      Not at least when you are sitting in you’r lovely home in Colombo in you’r own little world sipping a cup of tea and talking jack. Please ask you’r self what you have done to help these kind of people before you go dissing them on public forums like this.(Before you diss me around let me tell you that I do my share to stop the problem from within)
      Oh and just as a matter of fact ,the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka denounce what’s going on in the country at the moment, it’s only a handful of racist that’s carrying on with what they are doing, thanks to the vote of people like you. In other words please do not go labeling all of us as being racist.
      (I thought you’r education at ladies college would have thought you better than that)

      Adopting to the Australian way of things does not mean that you have to go kissing Australian A….
      Just to educate you abit it’s about being an honest person and living by the laws of the country and trying to integrate with society by being (you’r self). Not a fake phoney.
      Best of luck in you’r move to Australia, its only a matter of time before you will be found out.

      Apologies to Bob for hijacking his post, but I could not curtail my self after seeing what had been written.

      • BobinOz October 21, 2013, 8:27 pm | Link

        No need to apologise for hijacking this post, what you should be apologising for his having an unneeded and unnecessary rant against Dinali who, as far as I can see, hasn’t said anything wrong.

        What we welcome here in these forums are people’s opinions, that’s what Dinali has given us, his opinion. He is entitled to do that without somebody he has never met making unwarranted accusations against him.

        Please read my comment policy should you decide you want to comment further.

        Thanks, Bob

  • john April 18, 2013, 5:53 am | Link

    Ahh, a controversial subject

    My view is that since there is more than one ‘type’ of Australian person, Australian society can’t be described as being exactly one thing or another. I don’t think it’s a good idea to generalize about any society, that’s how racism starts in the first place. I lived here 3 plus years, I know plenty of Australians, and I don’t know any who I think are racist.

    Unfortunately, the Aussie racist stereotype has some foundation. From my own experience when I first arrived here working casually with a mixture of other ‘traddies’; in that environment you hear a lot of racism, and delivered in very normalized way; words and opinion that would shock most people are not considered controversial at all, and that tells me something.

    Also, my partner works in a building with a lot of people, many of them from a diverse range of backgrounds; she tells me some of the Australian women she works with are suspicious of immigrants at best, or out-right racist and unashamed about it at worst.

    I went to my Australian citizenship ceremony three weeks ago. And yes as per your piece, maybe half of the 100 or so other people there were non-white. I think Australia is not a racist country, however; some of the attitudes I’ve mentioned above still prevail (in some people). The obsession with ‘boat people’ is a good example, the idea of ‘boat people’ from Indonesia seems to infuriate people like nothing else here in Queensland, it’s as though there were nothing else going on in the world.

    • BobinOz April 18, 2013, 9:45 pm | Link

      I couldn’t agree more John, you simply can’t pigeonhole a whole nation; there is no doubt we have some people here who are racist, we surely have a good deal more who aren’t.

      As for the “tradies”, I’m sure the same holds true. Some of the talk is just playful banter between workmates, other remarks might be downright racist. The same would happen on building sites in England, with special names reserved for the Irish, Polish, and also no doubt for the English from all the other nations working there.

      Boat people, for me, is a different situation and probably an even more controversial subject.

      • Dinali David May 15, 2013, 9:40 pm | Link

        Hi there,
        thanks for bringing this subject up. I’m from Sri Lanka and awaiting my skilled 190 visa right now. The matter of “boat people” causes a problem for all ends i feel. I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent boat loads of Sri Lankans trying to enter aussy illegally. This is infuriating for us Sri Lankans who are actually coming over, or have already come over legally! My brother who is a student in Sydney Uni says that there is a general anti-Sri Lankan sentiment beginning there because Sri Lankans are now being generalized as “boat people”, whereas thousands, maybe millions of us have come over perfectly legally!
        On the other hand one feels pity for these people because their lives here are really awful! A friend of mine recently told me that Sri Lanka has recently come in as the 8th worst country to live in:-).
        On racism – I agree – i dont think there’s any country that has NO racism. Here in Sri Lanka for instance, there is rampant racism against our own people and often quite hostile. We even have outright mob incidents! – So I don’t think Sri Lankans can complain about racism in Aussy – at least not if they are anything other than the Sinhalese Buddhist majority

        • BobinOz May 15, 2013, 11:55 pm | Link

          Interesting to hear the opinion from the other side, so to speak, in as much as the Sri Lankan boat people are actually not liked by many Sri Lankans. Hope your visa comes through soon, cheers, Bob

          • Dinali David May 16, 2013, 2:29 pm | Link

            Thanks Bob,
            fingers crossed!!! pretty sick of having no time for kids and family – work work work!!!!

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.