In the 1970s, when I was teaching at Armidale CAE, we invited Lorna Lippman, the Human Rights Commissioner, to talk to our third year teaching students – her topic was: ‘Is there Racism in Australia?’ She began her lecture with ‘Yes’.

Yes, there was racism in Australian society in the 1970s – and we would argue – over four decades later, `Yes there is still racism in Australian society today’.

Harsh words? Not really. Just consider the sort of rubbish being distributed via the web about asylum seekers and the size of the financial benefits they are allegedly given by the government at the expense of our own, badly treated pensioners.

I’ll give you a small taste – this message was sent to me by one of my friends – not a bad and nasty person – just an ignorant one – it went like this:

It started out with telling the audience all about the bad things that would happen to you if you crossed the borders of China, Cuba or North Korea illegally – note all of these countries are communist and considered dictatorships. Now comes the punch line:

IF YOU CROSS THE AUSTRALIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET:

  • A job,
  • An interpreter,
  • Free legal aid,
  • A drivers licence,
  • A social security number,
  • Welfare,
  • Credit cards,
  • Free education,
  • Free health care,
  • Dollars worth of public documents printed in your language,
  • The right to carry your country’s flag while you protest that you do not get enough respect.

The site then claims that illegal immigrants/refugees are provided with 4 times the support provided to Australian aged pensioners. Note that the site equated illegal immigrants with refugees. It then compares refugee family allowances with aged pensions – not with other family allowances. Finally it urges all of us to lobby for more support for the aged, defense personnel, farmers, battlers of all kind who are willing to pay Australian taxes and give anyone a helping hand!!!!!
How crazy is that??? The same tactics were used to discredit land rights and educational/training allowances for Aboriginal people in the 1980s and 1990s.

Rethink the inconsistencies:

  1. Illegal immigrants are not the same as refugees or asylum seekers!
  2. Illegal immigrants are returned to their country of origin.
  3. We have a duty to support a quota of asylum seekers and refugees under the United Nations Charter– just as many other nations in the world do.
  4. Our governments, of all persuasions, have committed to supporting such a quota for humanitarian reasons.
  5. The people who are accepted as asylum seekers and refugees have experienced years of physical and psychological trauma
  6. Why is it a problem to try to integrate them into Australian society and ensuring that they receive the same benefits as other Australian citizens – such as health care, education, employment, access to social services etc ?
  7. Like you and me, they have to pass their driver’s licence or apply for a credit card.

So – who is distributing this emotional, inaccurate rubbish? The same sort of people who, in the 1980s and 1990s, wrote that national land rights would cause Aboriginal people to link up with the North Koreans and establish an independent State in Australia.

Why are they even moderately successful? Because like good little racists they mix emotion with half truths, stir in a generous amount of ignorance and insecurity and season it with fear of ‘the stranger’ and appeals to the ‘true blue’ values of the Australian battler! We all need to be vigilant and critical of racism not only in Australia but also beyond our shores.

Admin SumanRacismaustralia,illegal,immigrants,racism
In the 1970s, when I was teaching at Armidale CAE, we invited Lorna Lippman, the Human Rights Commissioner, to talk to our third year teaching students – her topic was: ‘Is there Racism in Australia?’ She began her lecture with ‘Yes’. Yes, there was racism in Australian society in the...