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Over 1 in 2 Indigenous Aussies face racism in the workplace, new report shows

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
18 November 2020 1 minute readShare
racism in the workplace

A new report has exposed the depth of adversities faced by Indigenous people in the workplace, with racism based on appearance said to affect as many as 59 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

Employers and governments across the country are being urged to act against institutional racism following the release of a new report named Wiradjuri or “speak the truth”, which has exposed stark truths about the prevalence of racism in workplaces.  

The report released on Tuesday by the Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research and Diversity Council Australia is based on a survey of 1,033 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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It exposed that as many as 38 per cent of Indigenous employees have been treated unfairly because of their Indigenous background sometimes, often or all the time.

Moreover, 44 per cent reported hearing racial slurs sometimes, often or all the time, while an overwhelming 59 per cent reported experiencing appearance racism, receiving comments about the way they look or “should” look as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

 

Nareen Young, industry professor at Jumbunna Institute, said that it was well past time that research about Indigenous people and work actually listened to Indigenous people.

“To improve the experience of Indigenous people at work, we need to stop asking non-Indigenous people about Indigenous people at work,” Ms Young said.

“This survey challenges that narrative for the first time on a truly national and rigorous basis, and provides evidence for employers about what they can do to create workplace environments where Indigenous people can thrive.”

Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese said the report tells some powerful truths about exclusion and racism.

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“This report reveals that Indigenous employees continue to experience significant workplace racism and exclusion and that racism is impacting wellbeing and job satisfaction,” she said.

“This racism manifested in a number of ways, including people being treated unfairly because of their Indigenous background, hearing racial slurs and receiving comments about the way they look or ‘should’ look as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.”

The report also provides 10 truths for organisations to improve workplace inclusion for Indigenous staff.

“This research sets out a framework of actions for organisations to improve inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff,” Ms Annese said.

“These actions are based in evidence and designed for workplaces that are ready to listen to Indigenous staff, and willing to act on what they tell them.”

Over 1 in 2 Indigenous Aussies face racism in the workplace, new report shows
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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