How racist is it in Australia? A perspective from people who have moved there would be useful...

(229 Posts)
netsuke Fri 08-Feb-13 10:08:34

We are a mixed-ethnicity family and we have been considering a move abroad for some time now (feels like we have been talking about it for years!). Because of DH's job prospects Australia is probably the best choice and it is also the one DH has his heart set on. I have always had misgivings about OZ mainly due to the treatment of the aboriginal people; I think things like that resonate in a country's psyche but DH is quite blase about it. He is the dark skinned one (and our sons) and I am worried he is not taking the threat of racism seriously. He thinks that because he has handled himself ok in UK all these years he can face anything but I have been reading different forums and getting a conflicting picture about the racism in Oz ...can anyone give me a idea of what it's like there please?

MoleyMick Sat 09-Feb-13 19:41:24

Sounds like southeast Queensland is the place to go!
I live in a lower middle class area too, near Brisbane, and there really is none, racism is completely frowned upon by people I live, work and socialise with here. My work, my kids kindy, my area, is very multicultural. In my experience it exists mainly in very rural areas.
I agree that Aussies are less PC, but having just come through a harrowing cyclone season where many people of all races were left in need of desperate help and this help was given voluntarily by thousands of people of all ages (dubbed the Mud Army) in a similar way to the Brisbane floods two years ago - many flew from interstate to help - it makes me feel very "meh" about the lack of PC talk really.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 20:32:18

I experienced lots of racism in Adelaide. Hardly rural.

WhataSook Sat 09-Feb-13 20:33:01

I am an Aussie living in London married to an Irishman. The level of 'hidden' racism here to me is astonishing. Also the level of xenophobia is worrying.

I am not racist, but I'm sure there are Australians that are. There is rasicm in EVERY country.

The poster that mentioned schools not teaching about Aborigines...do the British teach about what they did to Ireland and the Irish? Not to mention the other countries the 'empire' claimed.

These threads piss me off, such sweeping statements.

Savoy, if its so bad in Australia, why dont you come back to the ever so intolerant UK?

WhataSook Sat 09-Feb-13 20:39:15

Intolerant? Meant tolerant.

And that is a genuine question (sarcasm aside!), would you look to come back?

HesterBurnitall Sat 09-Feb-13 20:43:32

Lightrain, I think the point posters are trying to make about The Wog Boy is that it was Nick Giannopoulos' prerogative to use the term as he applied it to himself if he wished to. It was a term of abuse used towards the Southern European migrants, in particular the Greek diaspora of the 1960s. It was confrontational when he used it to force audiences to see and accept the racism he experienced growing up and it was also a, largely successful, attempt to reclaim and subvert the word, a word that now has no real currency and very little power here.

bamboostalks Sat 09-Feb-13 20:50:25

I found the level and depth of hatred for the indigenous people truly shocking. It is really endemic in society there and openly expressed by people you just would never imagine saying things like that.

echt Sat 09-Feb-13 21:00:34

newbiefrugal, no-one has suggested that all Aussies are racist.

Flatbread Sat 09-Feb-13 21:04:06

I found Australia quite racist. But then, I think UK is too, just not openly so. But in terms of degrees of racism, think Australia is far more racist.

echt Sat 09-Feb-13 21:14:01

Your contribution isn't helping. Australia is racist: no it isn't. Some people in Australia are racist; as are some practices. If you're specific, it will help the discussion, and the OP.

echt Sat 09-Feb-13 21:14:54

Sorry, I see you said "quite" racist, but it's still an unhelpful generalisation.

pipsy76 Sat 09-Feb-13 21:21:49

I spent a year in Australia a lot of that in North Queensland sharing accommodation with Aussies , there was a lot of very open racism specifically directed at the local aboriginals also at the Japanese.

MoleyMick Sat 09-Feb-13 21:34:12

Adelaide isn't rural, no, MrsMushroom. I did say "in my experience." I've not been to Adelaide. I've only ever lived in SE Qld and been to Sydney, Melbourne, and a few rural spots in New South Wales. It was there I noticed racism.

SavoyCabbage Sat 09-Feb-13 21:41:03

Whata sook Savoy, if its so bad in Australia, why dont you come back to the ever so intolerant UK?

Why don't you come back here! You are complaining about London.

I'm just answering the OP who has a mixed race family and is asking for opinions. The events I am telling the OP are not the focus of my whole life. They are minor things that have happened to me but are relevant to the question asked.

HesterBurnitall Sat 09-Feb-13 21:42:39

OP there are lots of Australians who are not racist, sexist or homophobic. There are lots of Australians who work and campaign very hard to fight the racism that does exist. There are lots of australian's who despair and the political hardball around asylum seeker issues and the deleterious influence of the Murdoch press on the debate.

Yes, there are issues, but unless the UK is markedly more enlightened than when we left it, the gulf is not as vast or absolute as some posters are painting it.

The only real way you can know is to spend some time in the place you think you'd most likely live.

Essexgirlupnorth Sat 09-Feb-13 21:43:05

Surprising racist considering they are a nation of immigrants. I worked in a very multi-cultural department but found the media pretty racist. They want to put their asylum seekers on a island of the mainland!
I'm white so didn't experience any first hand but felt it was racist than the uk.

JassyRadlett Sat 09-Feb-13 21:49:45

MrsMushroom, while Adelaide isn't rural it (like most of SA) is pretty isolated and I've always found it to be an odd and uncomfortable place.

I'm from SE Qld originally and like others I've found it to be a multicultural and integrated area, particularly in Brisbane.

I've lived Melbourne and TBH I found it quite different, maybe because major waves of immigration happened earlier, of because cities are larger, different racial groups tend to live more separately and I observed much more racism and racist attitudes.

I've experienced much more racist attitudes in some parts of Britain than in some parts if Australia, which perhaps underlines that it's a mistake to talk about either as if they're a homogeneous entity.

It would be really nice, though, if British people tried to avoid cultural relativism. There are things British people say that I find utterly appalling but I understand that it's a different culture with different experiences and I've adapted. If you're moving there, don't make the mistake of thinking its just Britain but warm. It's a different culture and there is likely to be a degree of culture shock.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 22:26:57

Whatasook if you mean the genocide that is generally called The Potato Famine...yes of course. Children here are taught all about the political history of Ireland....in high school. In Primary the subjects are taught in less detail...but the children are certainly taught about the Great Hunger.

My DH is Australian. He has told me since living in the UK, he has learned more about history than ever did in Australia. He went to school in a "good" middle class area in a "good" school but was not told about the Stolen Generation at all. Nothing and nada.

The first he knew about it was when a friend of his who was adopted by his Mother's friend and was from the Stolen Generation, told him all about his childhood. (living hell in a prison that passed for a school) this was in the 60s. It's all still VERY close for comfort to some Aussies...it wasn't long ago and as I said before, they are still in the 70's in terms of tolerance.

Jassy In what way did you find it odd and uncomfortable? [interested]

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 22:32:25
HesterBurnitall Sat 09-Feb-13 22:34:49

Adelaide is a famously odd city, Mrs. Whenever I travelled there for work I felt like I'd gone back in time (which sentiment would not go down well with friends who live there blush ).

A bit of context to The Stolen Generation and education, it wasn't publicly acknowledged until Paul Keating's Redfern Address. It wasn't formally acknowledged til much later than that. Your DH essentially learnt about it as it unfolded. My children now learn about it at school. Times change.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 22:39:25
Helpyourself Sat 09-Feb-13 22:43:46

People's experiences are always going to be different and it's difficult to find a 'reliable narrator' re race.
What is certain is that there is very little conscious countering of casual racism at Government level or from the media. So a review of Harry Potter mentioned JK Rowling's 'tiresome multicultural tub thumping'. Now I haven't read the books, maybe there is a clumsy race relations subplot hmm but it was a review of one of the films, and I'm pretty sure the reviewer was talking about the fact that there are non white characters. Can you imagine that being printed here? When I tried to talk to friends out there they looked completely blank. It meant nothing to them, but to think that in a country which does have a sizeable population of non whites, the inclusion of non white characters in a story is seen as a political statement! hmm
Similarly adverts never had non white people in them.

TotallyBS Sat 09-Feb-13 22:45:40

I know a few Hong Kong Chinese friends who emigrated to Australia in the run up to the 1997 handover to China. They returned to HK as soon as they got their Australian passports because of the racism. So it's not just blacks or Asians that bear the brunt.

Having said that, I have worked with Aussies in London as part of a multi cultural team and I see no signs of racism. I have no idea why racism is so open back home.

domesticslattern Sat 09-Feb-13 22:49:55

My British Asian friend and his white British DW moved to a big city in Australia a couple of years ago. While the DW quickly found a job, he was surprised to get no interviews at all, even though his profession is listed as a shortage industry ie in need of new workers. After a year, he received the advice to use a more English-sounding name. He did this and got a couple of interviews, but no offers. By this time they were both miserable, had made hardly any friends and were sick of casual racism in shops etc. sad So they moved back to England.
Only one anecdote but not a happy one, I'm afraid.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 23:24:21

To those who are defending Oz...of course not everyone in Oz is racist...but I think you cannot deny that the country is well behind in terms stamping out racism.

As Help says above, casual racism in government is a pretty good indicator that the country at large, accepts lower standards of equality than other countries do.

hopefulgum Sat 09-Feb-13 23:30:24

My husband teaches Aboriginal studies in his Society and Environment classes in high school. It includes the colonisation of Australia, the treatment of the indigenous people and the stolen generation. To say it isn't taught in schools here is just wrong. It has been in the curriculum for at least 10 years.He teaches in a government school. I also teach in a government school. My job is as a tutor to indigenous students.The government funds extra tutoring for all indigenous students in all government schools. A lot of money is put into improving the literacy and living standards of indigenous people.

I can only speak from my own experience, as a teacher and living in a small city in Western Australia, racism is NOT a problem where I work or where I live.

It is difficult to read this thread without being annoyed. As I said earlier I've not lived in the UK, so can't compare, but I do not feel Australia is overtly racist.

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