Australia to probe into discrimination against Africans

australia-flagAustralia – A NATIONAL inquiry will examine the racism and exclusion faced by Africans, amid fears that media stereotypes, such as the portrayal of African youths as violent gang members, are fuelling discrimination.

The project, to be headed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, will provide the first national picture into the health, education, housing and employment barriers experienced by Africans, many of whom came to Australia as traumatised refugees.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma said the main issue faced by the 250,000 Africans living in Australia was racism. “Recent public debate has voiced a number of myths and stereotypes about African Australians, reinforcing the discrimination that many may continue to experience,” he said in a discussion paper launched yesterday.

The Press Council last year upheld a complaint that The Australian newspaper incorrectly implied that the fatal bashing of Sudanese refugee Liep Gony at Noble Park in 2007 was at the hands of a Sudanese gang.

In fact, two Caucasian men were charged with his murder.

And former immigration minister Kevin Andrews sparked a race row when he linked the teenager’s death with the failure of the Sudanese to integrate, citing this as a reason to cut the African refugee intake. According to a confidential Immigration Department report, racial harassment of Africans increased following Mr Andrews’ claims.

The national project comes after a recent report found Sudanese youth in the City of Greater Dandenong experienced systemic discrimination because of race and were often too scared to go out in public.

Most of the 200 Sudanese youths interviewed by the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission had been racially abused or pelted with wine bottles and eggs while waiting at bus stops, with slurs including “black monkeys”, “little niggers” and “chocolate bunnies”.

The former chairman of the Federation of African Communities Council, Abeselom Nega, said that when an African committed a crime, questions were raised in the media about Africans’ ability to integrate.

“The fact a young man has done a silly thing does not mean a group of people can’t integrate,” Mr Nega said.

The Australian Human Rights Commission and its partners will report by the end of the year.

More Articles By This Author