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Racism called out in every corner and suburb

Rudi Maxwell -

Racism and hate is experienced in every corner and every suburb of the nation, a groundbreaking new report has found.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been detailing experiences of racism - including against children - for the Call it Out project since it first launched in early 2022.

Academics from the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney, have collated and analysed the first year of data in detail for the In Every Corner of Every Suburb report.

An Aboriginal mother who heard a racial slur being used against her son at the playground spoke about her own similar experiences as a child and how the incident made her feel.

"It broke my heart," she said.

"My little boy was only two years old being called an 'abo', he didn't even understand he was being called this sick name. 

"I used to get called 'abo' in primary school and I remember a girl who was my friend tell me her mum said I was an 'abo' and to stay away from me. 

"From then on, I used to hold my lips tight, so they looked smaller."

The report analyses data in the 12-month period up to March 2023, in the lead-up to the unsuccessful referendum on a First Nations voice, held in October.

Report author Fiona Allison told AAP they believed the reports provided a snapshot of the daily experiences of First Nations people - and that people could still register incidents.

"It's harrowing reading and what we received is really just the tip of the iceberg of what's out there," she said.

"It's just such a terrible problem, it's pretty massive." 

Call it Out provides a simple and secure way for people to report or call out incidents of racism and discrimination towards First Nations people.

Those who have experienced racism themselves can use the register, as can friends and relatives and also people who have witnessed racist incidents.

The aim is to generate evidence to assist First Nations leaders, organisations and advocates in garnering support and resources to develop tools and strategies to address racism and discrimination, including recommendations for systemic and cultural change.

"One thing we hope this report does is educate the public that this is a real thing," Dr Allison said.

"Some people have been quite shocked that in trying to report racism, and that includes non-Indigenous people, but also Indigenous people trying to call it out, that they've just been hitting a brick wall, in that it feels like racism is still so acceptable.

"That feels like what's happened lately, there does seem to be a level of tolerance for it.

"But the idea is for this to be an annual piece of work and so over time, we hope that the collective bringing together of data will point to some particular strategies or initiatives that might be used to combat racism." 

The report, found racist incidents reported "in every corner of every suburb of this country", including workplaces, businesses, schools and community settings. 

Racism in the workplace is identified as a major concern, with almost a quarter (23 per cent) of First Nations respondents reporting they had experienced racism at work, with many people experiencing more than a one-off incident. 

Physical and verbal abuse, hate speech, bullying, threats, intimidation and damage to property, taken together, made up 38 per cent of reports. 

Negative attitudes and stereotyping were the most commonly reported forms of racism (20 per cent), with respondents reporting references to government and other "hand-outs" made to Indigenous people, alleged criminality, drug and alcohol use.  

Professor Larissa Berendht, from Jumbunna, said the Call it Out register was started as a response to the need for people to tell their stories. 

"It is encouraging to see it capture experiences that might otherwise fall through the cracks of the legal system," she said.

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Rudi Maxwell - AAP

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