More than 80 per cent of Asian-Australians experience discrimination: New study

(Melbourne, 10 September 2019) Eighty-two per cent of surveyed Asian-Australians report that they have experienced discrimination in Australia, according to a new study conducted ahead of the first Asian-Australian Leadership Summit (AALS), an initiative of Asialink, PwC and the Australian National University.              

The results are a part of a wide-ranging study conducted by the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research & Methods and the Social Research Centre to determine ”˜Exposure to and Perceptions of Discrimination.’

Sixty-five per cent of the Asian-Australians reported being discriminated against in the workplace, while the most common setting for discrimination was at a shop or restaurant (71 per cent).

”˜The findings of this survey are a stark illustration of the challenges faced by Asian-Australians in our society – and particularly in the workplace,’ says Penny Burtt, Group CEO of Asialink, a centre for creative Asia engagement based at the University of Melbourne.

”˜This study reinforces the need to do more to advance Asian-Australians in our workplaces, particularly given the important role that this community can play in our successful engagement with the Asian region.’

”˜Asian-Australians make up 12 per cent of Australia’s population, but they are seriously under-represented in senior leadership positions, with only 3.1 per cent of those roles (Chief Executives and other ”˜C-suite’ leaders) in our companies, government, universities and community organisations,’ says Chin Tan, Australian Racial Discrimination Commissioner and an Advisory Group member for the AALS.
The survey showed that the most commonly barriers to Asian-Australians obtaining leadership positions in business, professional and other organisational roles cited by Asian-Australians themselves were the ”˜stereotypes associated with the group’ (42 per cent) and discrimination (44 per cent).
”˜There’s more work to be done to address these findings,’ says Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, Chancellor of the ANU. ”˜Ensuring cultural diversity in our business, professional and other organisational leadership needs to become a priority across our community.
”˜There really is a bamboo ceiling in Australia and change will only come when we address the very real challenges faced by Asian-Australians’, said Professor Evans.
A summary of findings from this survey is attached to this release, with more detailed findings available from the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods:

SURVEY AND STUDY SUMMARY Asian-Australian experiences of discrimination

In the August 2019 ANUpoll, the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social

Research Centre collected data from more than two-and-a-half thousand Australian adults about their experiences of discrimination, their beliefs in the level of discrimination that currently occurs within Australian society and workplaces, and their support for particular policy interventions.

The ANUpoll is conducted on a regular basis with the topic of each survey being an issue of national importance.

In collaboration with the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit (AALS), an initiative of Asialink at the University of Melbourne, PwC and Australian National University, the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre developed a survey to study the exposure to and perceptions of discrimination.

Input from the AALS project steering committee ensured questions surrounding the experience of Asian-Australians were asked and considered as part of the wider study. The full survey data will be made available in October through the Australian Data Archive.

Discrimination experienced by Asian-Australians compared to other ethnic groups

82% of Asian-Australians experienced any form of discrimination, which was the highest amongst all the self-identified ethnic groups in the study.  

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians71%
Middle-Eastern Australians81%
Latin-American Australians61%
Pacific-Islander Australians66%

Situations where Asian-Australians experienced discrimination

Any discrimination82%
In your workplace65%
In education (i.e. at a school, TAFE, University)65%
When renting or buying a house52%
In any dealings with the police46%
In any dealings with government departments and services58%
When seeking services such as banking, finance, or legal services54%
At a shop or restaurant71%
At a sporting or public event57%

Middle-Eastern Australians and Asian-Australians experience higher rates of discrimination across the different settings. 

For Asian-Australians, they experience the highest rates of discrimination compared to other self-identified ethnic groups at a shop or restaurant, sporting or public event, in education and dealings with government departments and services.

 Details of the Study

ANUpoll is conducted for The Australian National University (ANU) by the Social Research Centre, an ANU Enterprise business. The poll surveys a national random sample of the adult population (predominantly using the ”˜Life in Australia’TM panel). In this poll, 1,996 people were interviewed on the ”˜Life in Australia’TM panel between the 5th and 19th of August 2019. Among individuals who received the survey (i.e. members of the ”˜Life in Australia’ panel), a completion rate of 76.5 per cent was achieved. Taking into account the recruitment rate to the panel, the cumulative response rate is calculated as 8.3 per cent.

In addition to the survey respondents from the ”˜Life in Australia’TM panel, this ANUpoll included a boosted sample of 575 individuals who identified as an Asian-Australian. This additional sample was achieved using a single opt-in ”˜research only’ online panel. Invitations were sent to n=30,170 panellists inviting them to take part in the survey. This equates to a completion rate of 1.9%. The samples have been combined for a total sample of 2,571 respondents (of which 765 identified as Asian-Australian) and weighted to represent the national population.

The poll is conducted via the Internet (92 per cent of respondents) and phone (8 per cent of respondents). The use of this mixed-mode frame is to ensure coverage of households without internet access. The poll’s margin of error is approximately ± 2.5 per cent. The survey data will be made available in October through the Australian Data Archive.

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