Alliance forms to fight for inclusive Australia
2 December 2019 at 5:28 pm
A new charity has opened its doors to fight increasing rates of discrimination
With around 40 per cent of Australians found to have little or no contact with Aboriginal Australians or people from religious minorities, new research is warning that a lack of connection between different walks of life is driving prejudice.
The index, released on Monday by the newly formed Inclusive Australia, found that one in four Australians had experienced a major form of discrimination, such as being overlooked for a job or discouraged from continuing education within the last two years.
Young people aged 18 to 24, LGBTI+ people, racial minorities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with disability were the groups most likely to face this kind of discrimination.
Everyday discrimination, such as being treated with less respect, being called derogatory names and receiving a lower standard of services, hit 24 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the last 12 months, the index found.
Inclusive Australia launches
Andrea Pearman, Inclusive Australia CEO, told Pro Bono News that the organisation was born off the back of concerns raised by a number of smaller organisations around the rising levels of discrimination they were witnessing.
“At that point in time, we didn’t have a good evidence base to look at, so we decided to go out and do some research into the problem of social inclusion,” Pearman said.
The index surveyed 6,000 Australians and was collated by researchers at BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University.
Pearman said it was the first time the issue of social inclusion has been measured and reported on holistically.
“We’re looking at this across all parts of our community, whether it’s age, gender, sexuality, ability, or racial and religious minorities,” she said.
“It basically takes a wide brush look at all of the elements of Australia.”
Finding a solution
While the report uncovered high rates of discrimination, it also found that on average, people were willing to volunteer 11 hours a month to support disadvantaged groups.
Over half of all people surveyed also said they would speak out if they saw discrimination happening.
One of the major findings from the index was that “the more contact a person had with minority groups, the lower their prejudice tends to be”.
Pearman said that fostering connections between all walks of life was critical in lowering rates of discrimination.
“Whilst we have a big problem, we also have an amazing opportunity to really mobilise that goodwill we have in our society,” she said.
“If we can just get people to connect with someone that is different to them it can reduce prejudice and improve wellbeing.”
She said that now the index had launched, Inclusive Australia was turning to Instagram to try and foster connections between people that might never normally mix.
In what Pearman describes as the “most diverse Instagram account in the country,” different Australians will be featured every day in a bid to celebrate diverse stories.
“It’s designed to get people out of their bubble – because we all subconsciously tend to surround ourselves with people who are just like us – and really enjoy people’s lives and start to build that sort of empathy and respect for others that are different,” she said.
She urged community groups that represented and supported marginalised and minority groups to jump on board with the campaign, and work with the organisation to bring people together.
“There’s a lot of fantastic work that’s already going on deep within community, so by creating an environment where people collaborate and share learnings, we’re hoping the whole industry can get better,” she said.