The results of the study highlight that there is much work to be done if Australia is to become a truly tolerant nation of the diversity that we already have. Quite simply we cannot turn back the clock and start deporting people left right and center that is never going to be a practical response. The report will need to be analyzed in its entirety as i have only seen snippets to date in the form of news bites. However, the study is set for general release at the Rights, Reconciliation, Respect and Responsibility conference to be held at the University of Technology in Sydney this coming Friday.
The study was conducted over ten years and has surveyed some 12,500 people over the last eight years. So, this should in theory provide a relatively good cross-section of the much broader Australian community.
My home state of New South Wales tops the list as the most racist state. I have seen a lot of racism first hand, this is in the sense of having witnessed it and not because I have been subject to it. It is a seeing or watching it happen as opposed to a having it happen to me experience. Racism is also something I have thought about as I am married to an Indonesian and my children will be Australian citizens of mixed race.
The results are alarming in that they suggest as many as 2 out of every 5 people surveyed felt that some ethnic groups and religions did not belong in Australia. The study also found that at least 1 in 10 people surveyed held openly racist views.
This is a concern because if these results are considered to be representative of the broader Australian population then it would seem that we as a community are destined for some pretty rough times in terms of cultural, ethnic, and religious clashes.
It would be my feeling that any kind of cultural, ethnic, or religious based clashes in Australia are destined to further polarize what seems to be a polarizing society.
The people most identified as not belonging (perhaps not fitting into the concept of Australianism that is dominant presently) are Muslims and those from the Middle East. Islam is a religion so I do not know how you can be a racist if you say bad things about it. Perhaps the term is a religious bigot?
The study also asked questions that required people to answer on whether marriages between cultures were a good thing and whether all races are equal. The results for these two questions show that about 10% of those surveyed believe that inter-cultural marriages are a bad thing and that a similar number believe that not all races are equal. These results do not surprise me and in some ways I am surprised that they are not higher.
I wonder if a similar study was conducted in Indonesia what the results might be. There are plenty of inter-cultural marriages but there is always talk and gossip of the unhappiness of the extended family that such marriages have taken place. The idea of marrying within your own group is strong here among most of Indonesia's diverse range of ethnic groups. A read of the singles columns highlight this as race or ethnicity is often identified as a desirable characteristic.
I have been following some blogs and sites where race, ethnic, and religious issues get a regular airing. One such site is Indonesia Matters. The beauty of Indonesia Matters is that one can get to read a very broad cross section of opinions on these topics.
The lead researcher on this study was Professor Kevin Dunn of the University of Western Sydney (this happens to be one of my alma maters). According to Professor Dunn the results are high but it is worth pointing out that overall Australia ranks as being a country with a low level of racism. This means that there are plenty of countries out there in the big bad world with a lot more serious racial, ethnic, and religious tolerance problems than us.