Racism and hate exist in every corner and suburb of the country, a new report has found.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have detailed experiences of racism – including against children – for the Call it Out project since its launch in early 2022.
Scientists from the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney compiled and analyzed the first year of data in detail for the report “In Every Corner of Every Suburb”.
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An Aboriginal mother who heard a racist insult directed at her son on the playground spoke about her own similar experiences as a child and how the incident made her feel.
“It broke my heart,” she said.
“My little boy was only two years old and was called an ‘a**’. He didn’t even understand that he was given that sick name.
“I was always called an ‘a**’ in primary school and I remember a girl who was my friend telling me that her mother said I was an ‘a**’ and that she should get away from me keep away.
“From then on, I held my lips tight to make them look smaller.”
The report analyzes data from the 12-month period ending in March 2023, leading up to the unsuccessful First Nations Voice referendum in October.
Author Fiona Allison said the reports were a snapshot of Indigenous people’s daily experiences – and that people could still record incidents.
“It’s a harrowing read and what we’ve received is actually just the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there,” she said.
“It’s just a terrible problem, it’s pretty massive.”
Call it Out provides a simple and safe way for people to report or denounce incidents of racism and discrimination against First Nations people.
The register can be used by people who have experienced racism themselves, as well as friends and relatives and people who have witnessed racist incidents.
The goal is to generate evidence to help First Nations leaders, organizations and advocates gather support and resources to develop tools and strategies to combat racism and discrimination, including recommendations for systemic and cultural change.
“We hope this report educates the public that this is a real thing,” Dr. Allison.
“Some people have been quite shocked that when they try to report racism, and that includes non-Indigenous people but also Indigenous people who try to denounce it, they just hit a brick wall because it feels like racism. “ still so acceptable.
“It feels like what’s been happening lately, there seems to be a level of tolerance for it.
“However, the idea is for this to be an annual effort, and so we hope that bringing the data together over time will point to specific strategies or initiatives that could be used to combat racism.”
According to the report, racist incidents have been reported “in every corner of every suburb in this country,” including in workplaces, businesses, schools and community facilities.
Racism in the workplace is identified as a major problem.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of First Nations respondents said they had experienced racism in the workplace, with many people experiencing more than a one-off incident.
Physical and verbal abuse, hate speech, bullying, threats, intimidation and damage to property combined accounted for 38 percent of reports.
Negative attitudes and stereotyping were the most commonly reported forms of racism (20 percent), with respondents making references to government and other “handouts” to indigenous peoples, alleged criminality, and drug and alcohol use.
Professor Larissa Berendht from Jumbunna said the Call it Out register was a response to people’s need to tell their stories.
“It is encouraging to see that this is capturing experiences that would otherwise fall through the cracks of the legal system,” she said.