Research suggests strategies to address anxiety about race relations

The study, Challenging Racism Project, surveyed more than 12,500 people from all states and territories across Australia and was undertaken by a team of researchers including Dr Yin Paradies from the McCaughey Centre at the University of Melbourne.

The study, which was led by Professor Kevin Dunn from the University of Western Sydney’s School of Social Science, found:
* 86.8 percent of respondents across Australia agree that it is a good thing for a society to be made up of people from different cultures;
* 84.4 percent believe all races are equal; and
* 78.1 percent feel secure with people of different ethnic origins.
The Project also found that 12.3 percent of respondents admit to being prejudiced against other cultures; and 11.2 percent believe that it is not a good idea for people of different races to marry one another.
Dr Paradies, who collated data from Victoria and the Northern Territory said the report found racism against minorities was most common, but not always in areas that were more highly populated by those minorities.
Professor Dunn said the findings indicated that the majority of Australians were positive about living in a multicultural country and that community relations in Australia were generally good.
“However, there are clearly a significant number of Australians that still have a level of anxiety or discomfort about cultural difference, which makes the case for a nation-wide commitment to challenging racism that much stronger,” he said.
The Challenging Racism data also revealed that the frequency of racism varied substantially from place to place.
“Each region of the country has its own strengths and challenges, as well as its own capacity to address those challenges. In fact, the differences between regions are to such a degree that to compare them would be like comparing apples to oranges,” said Professor Dunn.
Rather than attempting to make direct comparisons between suburbs or places, the research team focused on the more constructive goal of addressing the nature of racism and developing anti-racism strategies that can be implemented at the local level.
The Challenging Racism Project was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. The Australian Human Rights Commission, Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia and Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission are official partners.

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Emma O’Neill, Media Officer, University of Melbourne.
P: +61 3 8344 7220, M: 0432758734, E: [email protected]