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?

SavoyCabbage Sat 09-Feb-13 05:59:50

That's what I meant Claudia, casual racism. That's more of a problem for me than the other kind.

This very morning I had a man baffled at a queue when I told him I was with dh therefore didn't need to be served. He literally didn't understand what I meant.

ClaudiaSchiffer Sat 09-Feb-13 06:03:20

Oh Savoy that's all so depressing. I'm so sorry. sad

StupidFlanders Sat 09-Feb-13 06:09:11

Southeast Queensland here. My husband and children haven't ever experienced racism.

HesterBurnitall Sat 09-Feb-13 06:11:48

I'm so sorry you experienced that, savoy. Please, please report the landlord to your state tenancy board.

The outback is the one place where I've witnessed direct racism, in most cases against indigenous people. It must be deeply dispiriting for your DH.

echt Sat 09-Feb-13 06:19:11

Horrible for you and your DH, savoy. [sad} and angry

SanityClause Sat 09-Feb-13 07:06:27

I don't want to defend Australians, as I agree that racism is rife there. I had a friend at school whose mother was Papuan. He was just one of the lads, but obviously, was black. I asked another friend, well, surely all black people are just like Eggsy (his nickname, not sure why!). But he just couldn't see it.

But, I will say, an an Australian in the UK, you are hated just as much here, as a "Pom" in Australia, particularly as a young adult.

specialsubject Sat 09-Feb-13 10:39:49

small sample, but I spent a couple of months there on holiday in Vic and SA, mostly camping as it didn't take long to get fed up with the hostels. The Aussies camp a lot and were very friendly, helpful and chatty (we are white) but there were regular jaw-dropping moments in the conversation regarding Aborigines, Indians and Asians. This happened repeatedly - we were there at the time of the 'Stolen Generation' apology so it was a topic of conversation.

Nothing at the level of what SavoyCabbage said, but I agree with the 'background racism' comment.

WhichIsBest Sat 09-Feb-13 10:54:05

SavoyCabbage, do you ever think about leaving Australia? Are you British? It sounds awful!

saffronwblue Sat 09-Feb-13 11:00:21

I think any conversation like this needs to acknowledge the diversity within Australia and the diversity of opinion between Australians. 25% of Australians were born in another country- that is a solid multicultural basis by anyone's standards.
When you go move to another country it is often the racism that jumps out because it is angled differently. I have been shocked in the UK by comments made about the Irish, travellers, Poles, and black people and irritated by the condescension towards "colonials".
Australia's migration has been in waves, basically driven by wherever there was war. The post WW2 waves were northen and southern Europeans escaping war torn Europe. Then in the 70s, the numbers of South East Asians grew, particularly Vietnamese, Cambodians and Hmong from Laos. In the 80s we started getting Iranians, Iraquis and Lebanese and in the 90s Bosnians, and Croations. In the last 10 years there have been increased arrivals from the Horn of Africa. The fastest growing group of immigrants now are from India and China. Of course the biggest source of migration is the UK.

What I am trying to say is that there are layers of cultural diversity across Australia and many, many ways in which it works as a multicultural society.

lightrain Sat 09-Feb-13 11:04:45

Here's an example that had my jaw on the floor when we lived in Australia apparently use of this term is perfectly acceptable in Australia

MrRected Sat 09-Feb-13 11:08:25

Another SE Queenslander who hasn't experienced racism.

Kids in a reasonably multicultural schools. I work with a very wide range of nationalities - Aussie, Indian, English, Chinese, Japanese, New Zealand, Anerican. Ds1s girlfriend is Chinese and they've never even considered their ethnicity (or at least, if they have its never been mentioned).

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Sat 09-Feb-13 11:10:22

There's no need for EDL/BNP parties in Oz because their manifestos are well represented by the mainstream parties!

MrRected Sat 09-Feb-13 11:10:56

I think Australians are less concerned about being politically correct than people are in the UK.

I have seen true life examples of "mate ship" during a natural disaster in Australia which, without exception transcended gender/race.

hopefulgum Sat 09-Feb-13 11:26:44

lightrain, that term is often used, by that particular group of immigrants, to describe themselves. I've lived in Oz most of my life and my father is an immigrant - he uses that term to describe himself, as a humorous term. It may not appear that way to someone who hasn't lived in Australia for long.

I have to admit, that until reading this thread, I did not know that "Paki" was a derogatory term. It simply described where someone may have come from.Just as I am described as an "Aussie".

I admit that Australia has a shameful past. The colonisation of Australia was pretty much genocide of the Indigenous people. There is still much that needs to be done to atone for the treatment of Australia's first people. And, the treatment by our government of Asylum seekers is awful. But I think you'll find, as you would in many western countries, that there are both racist and non-racist folk inhabiting Australia. Certainly many of the baby boomers in this country have a racist streak. The White Australia policy, which brought thousands of British people into Australia perpetuated racism well into the 1970's.

I don't encounter racism on a daily basis, but I am white,so it is unlikely that I would. Descrimination of any kind is frowned upon, and is in fact illegal.

I have never lived in the UK,though, so I can't comment on whether it is worse in Oz or the UK.

narmada Sat 09-Feb-13 11:29:06

I lived in Vic for two years, in what I would describe as lower middle class suburbs - not trendy fringes of city suburbs, proper suburbia. I found casual racism endemic and, strangely, very pronounced among first-generation migrants and their second-gen children. Being 'multi-cultural' in the sense of having lots of different ethnicities present guarantees nothing in terms of attitudes, even among BME group members.

galaxydad Sat 09-Feb-13 13:45:58

light train, so this is perfectly acceptable is it?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/oct/16/big-fat-gypsy-weddings-bullying-travellers

Double standards much?

Mosman Sat 09-Feb-13 13:58:20

WOG is regularly used as a term of endearment hmm
That's the worst I ever heard in Melbourne, I think it's down to the individuals and the company you keep, I've heard racist bollocks from one person and haven't socialized with them again, same as you would anywhere else.

lightrain Sat 09-Feb-13 14:12:22

Galaxy dad, I can't see what you're referring to as its not a clickable link.
Anyhow, not sure why you are being quite so snippy with me!?

My point is that, even if it is used as a term of endearment amongst people of a particular race/ origin (which people often comment is the same for the n word) there most certainly would not be a film on general release at the cinema, advertised on tv and radio, etc called 'the n** boy' in the UK.

I do think that there is an underlying cultural norm of mild racism in Australia. There is also a great patriotism and constant talk of buying Aussie goods, not importing, etc. which I think is probably linked somehow.

chickieno1 Sat 09-Feb-13 14:12:59

Again the main question is what you re willing to expose your kids to if you don't absolutely have to.

galaxydad Sat 09-Feb-13 14:21:20

Copy paste, don't be so lazy lightrain.

"there most certainly would not be a film on general release at the cinema, advertised on tv and radio, etc called 'the n** boy' in the UK."

Like I said, follow the link.
Your point is moot.

newbiefrugalgal Sat 09-Feb-13 15:24:43

So alllllll aussies are racist - yep that's a fact (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Don't go. If you really think this is the case then honestly don't go.
Australia does not need you.

Racism exists in all countries and to put such a label on Australia is insulting.
People use the word 'wog' as said above not in a derogatory way, same with Paki.

Label away and stay away if you really couldn't bare to expose your precious dc to it all!

(yes threads like this annoy me no end!)

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 15:31:30

I lived in Adelaide for two years and was there this Christmas OP. There is no doubt in my mind that Oz is very racist but not 100% so,....what I mean is that there is a definite lag in terms of people's perceptions of people of different ethnicity...I could not live there due to their treatment of Aboriginals.

Did you know that schools there are under no obligation to teach children the history of the country's treatment of the Aboriginal population?

That alone was enough to decide that my children will never be educated in such a place.

I witnessed first hand moments of sickening racism there and also sexism.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 15:33:39

The use of the word Wog is usually in reference to Greeks is it not? Not that that makes it ok at all.

I did find that some people are becoming more aware but they're back in somewhere around where the UK was in 1970 imo....in terms of understanding and casual racism.

Nancy66 Sat 09-Feb-13 15:37:29

The fact that the overwhelming majority of posters say that they did find Australia to be a racist place must, surely, count for something.

I have spent a LOT of time in Australia for work/family reasons and, I agree, it's the casual every day racism that is particularly shocking.

Of course not all Australians are racist but it's the face-value acceptance of it that I found disturbing.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 15:41:01

It's seething underneath usually Nancy at Christmas we were at the beach and a relative of DHs watched a group of young black men running across the sane, they were laughing...the relative said They've landed on their feet haven't they? Coming to a country like this from a country like theirs She (it was a female relative) could not fathom that they could be from ANY country and be middle class...because they looked African she assumed they were refugees or something. She had a sneer on her face as she watched them.

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