Racism in Australian Universities

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Racism in Australian Universities


Intercultural communication which entails communication and interaction across different cultures and social groups is an important aspect of building a strong society. It plays the role of harmonizing people of different backgrounds with the aim to reap a mutual benefit and eliminate various kinds of social evils. However, it has been affected by various factors in the recent past which have made it difficult to attain a stable society. Such factors include racism is basically a belief that a certain is superior to the other resulting in discrimination and prejudice towards the ‘inferior’ race. Racism in Australia has been a great problem especially in the universities which cause anger.  Racism has been associated with a lowered sense of the overall quality of life, suicidal cases, high levels of socioeconomic disadvantages, and high-stress levels among other problems in the university students. It has been reported that the aboriginal people are normally discriminated in many areas while they study in Australian universities hence making their studies a bit challenging (AQUINO, 2017, pg. 54).  Racism has been categorized to appear in various forms or nature in these universities. This report features the nature of racism in Australian universities, the effects it has, and the measures taken to curb the problem. Australia is one country which is faced with the problem of racial discrimination especially in the universities where numerous people from different backgrounds are gathered together. Various resources including article journals and published reports were used to gather information regarding this vice.


Prevalence and Nature of Racism in Australian Universities

Racism is expressed in various forms such as bullying, massacre, and exploitation of the aboriginals in Australian universities.  This burrs effective multicultural communication which is an important aspect of the modern globalization and education system.  For instance, bullying which can be defined as an inter-personal stressor consisting of repeated negative behaviors over time due to an imbalance of power relations. In other words, the original students normally use superiority to intimidate the aboriginals by forcing them to submit to them and do their will. Although the public media and academic authorities in Australia have paid significant attention to address bullying among the schools, the crime has remained consistent and become a threat to the aboriginal students.

Racism can also be in other forms such as dislike for the aboriginals. The aboriginals are disliked by the originals including the fellow students and the tutors leaving them with no security. This imparts fear in them and eventually lack confidence in their studies (Paradies, 2016, pg. 49).  The universities normally encourage the student-intake to be from the common tribal origin and eliminating intake for those from overseas. This was expressed as a massacre recently whereby in the University of Sydney, words such as “Kill Chinese” were inscribed above Swastika in restrooms. This meant that no Chinese student would be enrolled in the university and if any was found, he or she would be liable for killing.  A statement from the same university also read that, “Sydney University is committed to ensuring that our community is inclusive, supportive, and safe.” This could mean that not only the Chinese students were restricted from admission, but also any other aboriginal student would find it difficult being enrolled as the statement meant building up a composed community which means for students of the same culture.  When the university authorities were questioned about the statement and the intended killing of the foreign students, no one seemed to be responsible as everyone denied the charges. Even the security officers denied claiming that it could be the work of a lone individual. Nonetheless, the statement already instilled fear in aboriginal students and the aspiring ones were also afraid of joining the university despite the efforts to withdraw the statement by the university.

Most of the overseas students would normally find some casual jobs such as taxi drivers, and bar attendants whereby the jobs involved night-time shifts. This rendered them as easy targets for murder and killings. For instance, in April 2010, the cases of attacks on aboriginal students were reported almost daily in the Australian press. This involved killing the victims and robbing them of their possessions.  The students also normally find accommodation in areas of low socio-economic status where they can find cheaper rental houses and basics. Most of them also depend on public transport which further poses them to the vulnerability to violence as they may not be familiar with the roads. The students do not normally report such incidences to the police as they have lost trust with them and drawing attention to themselves may also complicate the immigration procedures for them the more. This may pose a threat to the renewal of passports or the application for permanent residency.


Effects of Racism in Australian Universities

Impacts on Academics

Recent research suggests that the aboriginal students in Australian universities have had their schooling and career aspirations affected by racism. This is because the crime induces fear in them which distances them from developing healthy relationships with the teachers and peers hence unfair expectations affect their studies. Most of them have been found to fail in various subjects which are the key indicators of their life goals as a result of low self-esteem from discrimination. According to O’Rourke et al, (2010), their confidence in academic capability was highly diminished by discrimination which led to controlled access to reading materials and study resources while the native students had unlimited access to the same. The aboriginal students also lost confidence with the tutors such that they would hesitate to ask for assistance when they experienced difficulties in their studies. This further meant a step away from excelling in their academics especially in English, Mathematics, and Science subjects.  Some students also skip classes for fear of racism.

Mental and Health Problems

Racism in the universities are measured through differences in group’s socio-economic status and there exists a relationship between socio-economic variables and health indicators. Some literature reviews have indicated a relationship between racial discrimination and the persistent poor mental health outcomes among the aboriginal students (Bodkin-Andrews, & Carlson, 2016, pg. 780). This is as a result of the mental stress imparted in them by the racism. Aboriginal students are discriminated in a way that their academics are affected and thus they feel wasted in terms of time, money, and self-esteem. This induces stress and depression in them such that most of them engage in drug abuse hence causing mental problems. The extent to which they get stressed also causes an alarming effect. Realizing that they may never attain the grades they hoped to and the academic goals they had in studying abroad due to various challenges of racism adds mental problems to them (Forrest et al, 2016, pg. 320). This is accelerated by the fact that they are far away from their people and deciding to go back without the credentials that they aspired to get worsens the matter. This kind of frustration and anger results in various biological responses such as the release of cortisol which may cause cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. Others include excretion of sodium which inhibits immune functions and eventually the students suffer from various diseases which would not be the case if the learning institution was favorable. Such health problems may end up becoming a lifetime threat to the aboriginal students.

Anti-Racism Strategies

Most of the Australian universities have grown to become international universities hence experiencing students from different backgrounds. It is thus important for the faculty leaders to ensure that they develop strategies which will accommodate such students so that they feel comfortable while schooling (Lee et al, 2017, pg. 140). In order to develop a successful learning institution for the multicultural students in the Australian universities, it is important that the leaders understand, assess, and develop ways of overcoming the challenges that spice up multicultural communication, and in this case, racism.  The negative impacts racism brings to aboriginal students provokes a need to implement strategies to curb such a problem (Nelson, 2015, pg. 341).

Such may include anti-racism training, implementation of anti-racism policies, and anti-racism campaigns among others.

Anti-racism Campaigns

The campaigns play a great role in promoting mutual understanding among people from different backgrounds, hence developing a harmonized society. For instance, a movement called FedUni was founded in a quest to curb the problem of racism. The campaign advocates that everyone bears the responsibility of stopping the vice by creating an inclusive environment free from racism (Ng & Metz, 2015, pg. 264). This followed up having the universities signing up the agreement to support the Australian Human Rights Commission campaign which states that “It stops with me”. This campaign strives to ensure everyone is focused to make it meaningful and bears fruits (Baker, 2015, pg. 135). The campaign involves creating an organization whose policies states the commitment to eliminating harassment, discrimination, and racism, and create an environment which embraces social-cultural diversity within the universities. It is meant to appreciate the diversity of cultures to promote a healthy community, mutual benefit, and social justice. The campaign also promotes a statement of reconciliation whereby the universities are to recognize the presence and impact of racism against aboriginal students and commit themselves in reconciling with them to acquire respect, equality, and genuine opportunity.  Developing online equity program to be accessed by the students and staff is part of the campaign’s programs to raise awareness of combating racial discrimination.


Various approaches have been put in place to curb racism in Australian universities. For instance, The Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) is an anti-discrimination and human rights legislation which was passed by the Commonwealth parliament to address a gap in the Australian law. Although during its implementation some people argued that its effectiveness may be challenged and the crime be ignited the more instead of eradicating it, its impact has been important as it involves all the sectors of the economy involving education. As the universities are expected to adhere to the laws of the country, the RDA plays a significant role in promoting anti-racism in the universities. This is because any person involved in such a crime is held responsible regardless of whether he or she is a university student, staff, or non-teaching staff. This legislation, therefore, is one of the strategies used by the universities to protect the vulnerable aboriginal students from the impacts of racism.


There are various ways in which spreading information through the educational system can play a role in eradicating racism. This involves focusing on teaching multicultural perspectives right from primary and secondary school levels so that as the students join the university education, they are already equipped with the knowledge of multicultural communication and interaction. Such kind of education system will also promote a greater understanding of ethnic minorities and community and will ensure that multicultural conflicts are minimized not only at the university levels but also at the community level (Santoro, 2015, pg. 860). The university staff should implement strategies which seek for a reconciliation of the indigenous and aboriginal students. These policies include mixing up students such that the classes are made up of multicultural students. The aboriginal students should be supported and encouraged to participate in various activities which enable them to catch up with the original students. The tutors should avoid behaving in a manner that suggests that the aboriginal students are less important than the original ones (Onsando & Billett, 2017, pg. 330). These policies should be publicized and have a clear mention of the measures to be taken against the staff who is found promoting racism among the students. These policies should also engage the students themselves so that the rules are understood by all the personnel in the universities.



Australian universities have been known to fetch students from all corners of the world due to their international position. This means that the students and staff involved are from various cultural backgrounds. However, various resources indicate that the universities have been faced with racism which promotes discrimination against the aboriginal students, hence becoming a major challenge. This makes the aboriginal students to suffer a lot while they pursue their dreams in the overseas universities as they experience the impacts in various forms such as hatred or dislike by other students and staff, murder cases, and restriction in accessing learning resources among others. Such a crime has caused problems to such students such as mental health problems and academic failures. Nonetheless, the Australian government in conjunction with the universities’ faculties have implemented various strategies such as legislation, anti-racism campaigns, and standardized education system to eradicate such problems. These measures have played a great role in promoting multicultural communication and eradication of racism.

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