Confronting Racism in Communities Project: a final report on the nature and extent of racism in Queensland

Babacan, Hurriyet, and Hollinsworth, David (2009) Confronting Racism in Communities Project: a final report on the nature and extent of racism in Queensland. Report. Centre for Multicultural Pastoral care, Paddington.

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The Confronting Racism in Communities project was designed to identify and address the variety of racisms experienced by Queenslanders from CALD backgrounds. The project arose in response to state and Commonwealth anti-discrimination agencies (ADCQ and HREOC) awareness of under-reporting of racist incidents. The project therefore attempted to encourage reporting of a more representative range of incidents and to develop appropriate training to support those working with people who have experienced racisms.

A training needs survey of workers was conducted and, along with a literature review, formed the basis for design of a reporting instrument and training for seventy selected people (Data Collection Points) who assisted those who have experienced racism to complete the questionnaire. Data collection was undertaken from January 1 2006 to December 31 2007, resulting in a total of 398 reports of incidents occurring in the last five years that were perceived as racism by those who experienced them.

Reported incidents involved a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and took diverse forms including physical violence, threats of physical violence, property damage, verbal, written and non-verbal harassment, social exclusion, discrimination and institutional racism. Racist incidents occurred most often in public places including the street, work, real estate agents, public transport, shops and educational institutions. Most of the reported instances involved total strangers with no prior warning. Other relationships to perpetrators included employers and work colleagues, public transport officials, real estate agents, government agencies, police and educational staff as well as neighbours. Perpetrators were reported as disproportionately male with more females involved in mixed groups rather than as single-sex offenders.

Those experiencing these incidents reported a wide range of emotions and reactions but especially reported feeling angry, upset, scared, anxious, excluded and not belonging, sad, depressed, disappointed, a loss of confidence, physical symptoms and shame, although some reported personal growth or were sorry for the perpetrators. It is significant that some of these responses persisted for years after the event. While the responses of those who witnessed these incidents varied widely, it is significant that many were reluctant to become involved with almost thirty percent apparently indifferent to what had occurred.

Seventy percent did not formally report their experiences, with nineteen percent having reported and eleven percent not specifying. Amongst those who did report the incidents there were two-thirds who were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the outcome, and only twenty percent satisfied or very satisfied. Main reasons for satisfaction with reporting outcomes included a speedy response, apologies, perpetrators being confronted, and apparent measures to avoid repetition. Key factors in dissatisfaction with reporting outcomes included trivialising reports, lack of action by reporting agencies, experiences not being validated, and future incidents not being prevented. Many of those who reported incidents to the Confronting Racism in Communities project expressed their appreciation of the opportunity to have their experiences validated and taken seriously by an external party even when they were not interested in making a formal complaint.

The main reasons for not reporting included not knowing the identity of the perpetrator, not having witnesses or other evidence, fear of further racism, fear of the consequences of reporting, not believing it would result in any useful outcome, not knowing where or how to report, negative feelings prolonged by reporting or that such events were so frequent as to be not worth bothering with.

Significant issues raised by the project include the difficulties in establishing that reported incidents constituted racism and in providing evidence. While those reporting their experiences were convinced of racist motivations, the nature of many events, especially not knowing the perpetrator, lack of witnesses, etc., makes it difficult to sustain a formal complaint. It is also extremely difficult in many cases to establish systemic or institutional forms of discrimination.

Existing government responses to racism (including the work of ADCQ, HREOC and MAQ) provide complaints mechanisms, education and community relations initiatives which have been valuable in supporting community cohesion and addressing the needs of particular communities. However, these strategies need to be supplemented by more targeted initiatives including a positive duty to minimise discrimination and unintended racism. On the basis of extensive international evidence the research suggests that interventions need to be directed at multiple levels of engagement including individual, inter-personal, institutional and societal, with appropriate coordination to ensure maximum effectiveness. Political commitment and leadership are particularly important in supporting sustainable initiatives. International evidence highlights the need for comprehensive training to support efforts by agencies and individuals to provide non-discriminatory services and organizational environments. The Confronting Racism in Communities project has developed and delivered such training to more than seventy groups of government and community workers over the life of the project.

Future directions recommended include the need to: -develop an ongoing, evidence base for reporting racist incidents; -examine the relationship between criminal offences and racist violence; -use departmental Multicultural Action Plans to address systemic racism; -provide comprehensive community education programs on anti-racism; -develop victim-support programs and community worker training to provide assistance to those experiencing racism; -develop guidelines for organizations wanting to implement effective antiracism; -identify services to work with perpetrators of racism.

Item ID: 18110
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 978-0-646-51696-7
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2013 04:06
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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