Shock rates of racism in Aussie schools
STUDENTS are facing a "confronting" level of racism from both their peers and teachers at government schools.
One-third of NSW and Victorian public school students reported being the victim of racial discrimination by classmates, according to a new Australian National University and Western Sydney University study. Nearly 20 per cent of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds said they had experienced it from teachers.
It comes as Adelaide-raised supermodel Adut Akech, 19, said Australia has "a lot of work to do" to address racism after Who magazine published a photo of another black model and incorrectly identified it as her.
The trailblazing Speak Out Against Racism (SOAR) survey collected data from more than 4,6000 government primary and secondary school students in years five to nine. Forty per cent of those from non-Anglo or European backgrounds indicated they had experienced racial discrimination from their peers, while one in three students from these groups said they experienced this in wider society.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Naomi Priest from ANU said the findings were "confronting" and added both racism and racial discrimination could have lifelong consequences.
"Children and young people need to be safe, secure and happy to learn, grow and thrive," Associate Prof Priest said.
"Racism and racial discrimination profoundly limit opportunities and have potential for serious lifelong consequences. The findings from SOAR show the extent of this burden for many Australian children and present an important call to action."
While 63 per cent of student respondents strongly agreed with the statement "My teachers are good at dealing with racism when it happens", the survey showed staff had mixed feelings about anti-racism education provided by the education departments.
Sixty per cent of staff participants in NSW thought the state's department of education provided sufficient professional anti-racism education, but that figure fell to 32 per cent in Victoria.
Professor Kevin Dunn from Western Sydney University said reducing experiences of racial discrimination and racism in schools "must be made a major priority for Australian schooling, which is so critical to building a resilient multicultural future".
"One of the most essential and immediate tasks is to build programs that help the entire school community- and wider society - to address racism and racial discrimination," Prof Dunn said.
Fifty-five per cent of students who participated in the survey identified as of Anglo-Celtic of European background. Another 22 per cent said they were south, east, or southeast Asian, five per cent were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and another five per cent were Middle Eastern. Four per cent identified as Pacific Islander and 3 per cent as African.
The data also showed that 20 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students reported being spat on, pushed or hit. East Asian students recorded the highest rate of insults or name calling on the basis of their background at 40 per cent.
The survey's release comes after an "angry" Adut took to Instagram to slam Who magazine.
In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and people's attitude to colour in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl," Adut wrote.
"This has upset me, has made me angry, it has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue."
The magazine apologised for the error, and said their intention was to share her "inspiring story."
The NSW Department of Education "rejects all forms of racism", a spokesperson told News Corp.
"The Department... is committed to the elimination of racial discrimination in NSW government schools," the Department spokesperson said.
"The Department regularly partners with universities to undertake research which can be used to inform the development and improve the delivery of its programs and services. Findings of the Speak Out Against Racism research project will be used to strengthen anti-racism education provisions in our schools."
A Victorian Department of Education spokesperson said: "Racial discrimination is not tolerated in Victorian schools.
"We take the wellbeing of students and staff very seriously, and work hard to make schools inclusive and safe.
"We know that racism is a serious and persistent issue in society, and there is always more for us to do as a community to make sure all Victorians feel included and respected."