As a person of Asian descent born in Australia in the early 1980s and starting school in the late 1980s in the Western suburbs of Sydney, I definitely know what it feels to be racially discriminated in school. I remember when I started Kindergarten and my mum prepared a packed lunch with my favourites (rice, egg and leap cheong ( Chinese preserved sausage)) some of the older white kids said it “stunk” and threw my lunch on the grass. From then it stopped becoming my “favourite” food till I was a lot older.
One kid in my class in grade 1 concocted a song he would sing to discriminate me and point out my “eye” being “chinky”. This was ongoing everyday for an entire year, with teachers seeing, hearing but never saying anything to stop it. And these 2 incidences are just the minor ones which have happened to me as a kid ( I won’t delve into the more brutal ones as yet).
But the point of this post isn’t to tell you about my childhood, but use as an example to point out how racial discrimination in Australian schools hasn’t really changed much at all from the late 1980s till now 2019. Researchers from the Australian National University and Western Sydney University have recently released a first of its kind study into racism in Australian schools and have surveyed 4,600 students from both primary and secondary government schools in both New South Wales and Victoria on their experiences of racial discrimination.
The results are damming. Here is a snapshot (via Guardian Australia):
- 40% of students from years 5 – 9 stated they have experienced racism from their peers;
- Around 20% Indigenous Australian students stated they have faced discrimination from their teachers;
- 1 in 3 non Anglo/European students stated that they have experienced racial discrimination outside of school;
- East Asian background students have been reported as having the highest rate in experiencing racial bullying in the form of name calling etc ( not surprised);
ANU associate professor Naomi Priest who leads this study talks to the Guardian Australia about the importance of such a study and what it tells us about Australian society as a whole:
“I think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and ethnic minority communities have been telling us for a long time that racism is part of their everyday lived experience,”
“What this survey gives us is some data on how common that is, and the burden it places on children and young people. We know racism and race discrimination are major issues and of course they effect children.”
There is a part of me which hopes for a better Australia than the one I grew up in, but there is another part of me which has almost lost hope. Let’s be positive and hope for a better one in the coming years to come.
Image via The Human Rights Commission
To read the original article, please click on: Racism study finds one in three school students are victims of discrimination