Racism and Ethnicity in Australia
A Race is a population that has some common biological characteristics which renders them to be different from the rest of the population. Race concept does not augur well with human being unlike other organisms which can be separable from each other by placing them in different environments. This is because humans are distributed over wide areas and also move among themselves. Consequently, there is a great possibility of gene flow among the various groups of people hence making it difficult to organize them to discrete groups.
Ethnicity and race are a major factor contributing to racism in Australia nowadays. The persistent racism among many Australians is a major cause of the inequality in the Australian society. To fully understand these occurrences one has to grasp the effects and forms of racism. Australian history begins dating back to the colonial period in 1788 by the Britons. This brings a revelation to both the natives’ population and the immigrants (Banton, 2007).
The main trait used in placing people to racial groups remains skin color. However an African descendant may have a similar skin shade as someone form European origin. Hence it makes it difficult to know where a race ends and another begin. In addition to the color of the skin other features such as face shape and hair texture have also been used as a base of race classification. It is not possible to classify many groups of people as Mongoloids, Caucasoid or Negroid the common terms used classification of the three races. Taking Native Australians as an example, although typically they are dark -skinned, they have alight colored curly hair. “On the grounds of their skin color, one may label them as Africans, but using facial shape and hair, they may be labeled as Europeans.
On the other hand, ethnicity can be defined as the state of being of a particular social group with a common cultural or a national tradition. An ethnic group can be defined as a group of people with its members identifying with each other, via the same heritage which may be either real or assumed cultural characteristics. This common heritage may be having its bases on history, religion, kinship, shared territory, language or putative common ancestry. The Australian colored races mainly complices of: the aboriginal who are black, the Polynesian who vary from copper to black and the Chinaman who are yellow in color (Grey, 2008).
In Australia, ethnic composition is of great interest. The estimation is based on many statistical sources including: religious affiliations who mainly complices of Sikhs, the Jews, and the Assyrians. Another estimation is based on citizenship, for example the Chinese, the Indians the Americans living in Australia. Another source is the languages spoken at homes. Racial origins from the records of the colonial era (1861-1891) are also used as well as the records of the commonwealth (1901-1976). Others are naturalization records which specify the town as well as the village of birth, ancestry based on the census carried out in 1986, distinctive surnames, that is whether of Irish, Cornish, Scots, Armenian, Sikhs among others (Haigh, 2009).
Since 1788 many ethnic groups have intermixed. According to statistics about 60% of the Population has a mixed ethnicity. Also it has been discovered that at least 20 percent of the population have four distinct ancestries. The fastest growing ethnic group in Australia is not Filipino, Chinese, Lebanese or any other immigrant group, but that of mixed ethnic origin. `Ethnic strength’ concept allows for intermixture. The strongest ethnic group is the English, followed by the Irish, then the Scottish and the German come fourth, then the Italians, the Chinese and the Greeks follow.
This is due to the fact that the Germans were the first immigrants to move to Australia in 1830s and have ever since contributed to the population. The Greeks and the Italian have come in more recently in the 20th century. They have since slowed down mainly because they have started to go back to their homes. The ethnic strength of the Australian indigenous people is approximately 287000 as compared to a total of 430000.This is because about 60 percent of them are a mixture between the Indigenous people and others and the ethnic strength is calculated fractionally.
The colonial immigration witnessed the migration of many Europeans who constituted of mainly the Britons. In fact, it is believed that at between the colonial period and 1852 there were approximately 170,000 immigrants. Also the era of the gold rush which occurred after the 1851 likened the country to many immigrants. By the end of the Second World War the war caused Australia to seek friendship of other countries resulting in a significant dehydration to the policy in the early 1950s.
Many white Australians believed that `civilization had no origin in Australia up to the end period of the 18th century’. Through sexual exploitation, killing and spreading of the disease, the original population reduced drastically and only recovered in the late 1940s.To make it worse, the introduction of the government policy of 1960s harbored a `stolen generation’ which was meant for the `common good’, where the Aboriginal children were separated from their original families and given to foster families who were mainly white. The racial ideology was first began in 1901 due to formalization of the act restricting immigration .This Act excluded `colored’ and `Asians’ from immigration to Australia Since the birth of modern Australia, ethnic superiority and ideals of racism have transformed laws and the popular opinions, including media migrants and Australians `representation’. Persistent division between Aboriginals, `white’ Australians, and Muslim-Australians are a result of misconception and misinformation in a branded `multicultural’ Australia.
Race and ethnicity have greatly perpetuated inequality in the Australian society. Australian politicians have continued to speak of a multicultural society which promotes integration and tolerance. A proud society where the people can reap social status or financial rewards through hard work whereby the nature of one’s ethnicity or race is not an important factor. However according to Bessant, racist attitude are very much alive today. Australia is still a society today characterized by inequality as a result of race and ethnicity which are a disadvantage to equal assessment of resources in the Australian society.
A public planning meant to get lid of cultural racism in Western Sydney was ahead of its time. This part has a long history of migrant settlement and industrial production. Many of its endeavors to come up with an inclusive foundation have been adopted by state governments not forgetting the seniors social clubs which are council funded, the community service provisions in the major language communities, and the finding of worship places through rezoning. All these initiatives are meant for the involvement of the public rather than antiracist strategy integration. Institutional racism is also a common feature in Australia among her institutions, universities and corporations Government institutions are often viewed as racist consisting of indigenous people. Also racial abuses as well as verification are a common phenomenon in the Australian sports, according to a report by the `Human Rights and equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).” A survey into the racism and cultural diversity in Australian sport reported that Aboriginal along with other ethnic communities are underrepresented in the countries sports.
Another good example of racism in Australia is the `Cronulla riots of 2005′ where a number of racially motivated confrontations which started in Cronulla, a suburb beachfront of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Immediately after the riot had occurred, violent incidents ethnically motivated sprout in other Sydney suburbs. On 11 December 2005, about 5000 people protested against incidents of alleged assault and intimidation by groups of Middle Eastern youths from South Western Sydney. Violence broke after a segment comprising mostly of the whites chased a Middle Eastern appearance man into a hotel. Two other youths were also assaulted while on a train.
However it is encouraging to note that according to a report by the UN Committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2005, there was some improvement noted in the race- related issues as compared to a report five years earlier. This was mainly in the following areas: the incitement of hatred and criminalizing acts in most states and territories of Australia, also social, economic and cultural rights progress by the indigenous peoples. There was also an adoption of Public service charter in the cultural diverse society which ensured government services were provided in a way sensitive to cultural needs and the language of all Australians. There was also a development of many educational programmes by the human rights and the Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).
On May 30 in 2009, there was a protest from Indian students against alleged racial attacks. Thousands of students had gathered at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where a victim had been admitted.
On 4 June of 2009, China also expressed their concern against racist attack. Chinese constitute the highest number of foreigners among the Australian students with a population of about 130,000 students. Following this the government came up with a Helpline service meant for the Indians students for reporting of such cases. The Australian high commissioner based in India John McCarthy concluded that there might have been some racial elements in some of the reported assaults upon Indians, but were mostly of criminal nature. The Human Rights High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Navi Pillay, branded these attacks as being “disturbing” and called for the Australian government to further investigate the matter.
In conclusion it can be seen that Australia is one of the most fascinating nation in multi-culture in terms of ethnics’ .It also has got many races. What is important is not one race or ethnic community, but the fact that one is a citizen. Therefore so as to enhance peace and tranquility every Australian should respect and show understand to fellow citizen. Unity is also crucial to enhance development and progression in the society.