Home' Teacher : February 2010 Contents 70 TEACHER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010
of young people from non-Anglo-Australian
backgrounds are subjected to some form of
racism. Young people who have been in
Australia for fewer than five years are six
times more likely to report an experience of
racism than other young people.
This is borne out by a second study
commissioned by FYA and carried out by
James Forrest at the University of Western
Sydney, which indicates that almost twice as
many young people born outside Australia
experience intolerance and discrimination
within their place of study or work as their
counterparts who were born in the country.
This latter group is not immune, however.
Mansouri and colleagues report that 55
per cent of Anglo-Australian school stu-
dents testify to experiences of racism while
Forrest reports that a quarter of young peo-
ple aged 18 to 24 born in Australia testify
to experiences of racism.
The Impact of Racism study shows that
racist experiences have a profound impact
on young people's wellbeing. Young people
subject to racism report a range of effects
including ongoing feelings of sadness, anger
and exclusion; a lowered ability to perform
at school and a corresponding reluctance
to go to school; a pervasive fear of physi-
cal or verbal attack; a desire to return to
their country of birth; and an exacerbation
of existing post-traumatic stress. The most
frequently recorded effects, according to the
study, were 'feeling angry and frustrated'
and feelings of 'not belonging to the local
One of the most disturbing findings of
the research is that young victims of rac-
ism tend to take no action to seek help, but
when they do report a racist incident, they
most commonly seek help from a teacher.
Schools, then, are an important source of
support for young people suffering racist
treatment, but they're also the main setting
in which many young people experience rac-
ist behaviour. The study uncovers a clear
trend towards structural and institution-
alised racism within schools that have a
significant Indigenous, migrant or refugee
Another disturbing finding is that teach-
ers, as well as students, can often uninten-
tionally be the perpetrators of racist behav-
iour in Australian schools.
The report makes a number of propos-
als in light of this. In particular, it recom-
mends better professional development for
teachers, school leaders and administrative
staff regarding the effect of personal atti-
tudes and structural racism on the health
and wellbeing of the school community.
This should improve the capacity of school
leaders to develop whole-school initiatives
to combat racism and enable teachers to
identify and address racist incidents within
the school, including within the classroom.
In line with these findings, a suite of
teaching and learning modules will soon
be released by Deakin University and FYA.
Building Bridges: Creating a culture of
diversity by Fethi Mansouri and colleagues
will provide important resources to enhance
the sensitivity of students towards cultural
diversity and equip them with the skills to
shape their ow n opinions on issues con-
nected to social justice and human rights.
Dr Lucas Walsh is Director of Research at
The Foundation for Young Australians.
Dunn, K.M. , Forrest, J. , Burnley, I. &
McDonald, A (2004). Constructing rac-
ism in Australia. Australian Journal of
Social Issues. 39(4): 409-30.
Forrest, J. (2008). Report on attitudes
towards and experience of racism among
18-24 year olds in NSW, Qld, Vic and SA.
Melbourne: The Foundation for Young
Mansouri, F. , Jenkins, L . , Morgan, L. &
Taouk, M. (2009). The impact of racism
upon the health and wellbeing of young
Australians. Melbourne: The Foundation
for Young Australians.
Mansouri, F. , Leach, M. , Jenkins, L . &
Walsh, L. (2009). Dive rsity: An educa-
tional advantage. Teaching and Learning
Modules. Melbour ne: Melbourne
Schools are an important
source of support for
young people suffering
racist treatment, but
they're also the main
setting in which many
young people experience
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