Aussies’ Racism Higher Survey Reveals; Morrison Dehumanises Asylum Seekers

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By Athena Yenko | October 21, 2013 12:19 PM EST

Migrants who told of experiencing racism and discrimination in the country increased over the past seven years, Mapping Social Cohesion revealed. The survey was conducted by Monash University and supported by philanthropic groups the Scanlon Foundation and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

In as much as the report found that 84 per cent of the Aussies were in favour of welcoming asylum seekers in Australia, a growing divergence against asylum seekers was remarkable. Eighteen per cent of the Australians said that asylum seekers should be offered permanent residence while 33 per cent of Australians said that these asylum seekers arriving in boats should be turned back home.

Mapping Social Cohesion also revealed that Australians think of themselves as "kind, caring and friendly," but asylum seekers do not think of the Australians these ways based on what they experienced in the country.

According to Andrew Markus, the author of the report, Aussies are the most discriminative to migrants from the Middle East. Also, there was a "consistently high level of discrimination towards migrants from the Asian countries like Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia and China."

On a positive note, the report revealed that Australia remained a socially cohesive nation.

"Australians' sense of belonging remains strong at 92 per cent. Personal satisfaction with financial circumstances is at 71 per cent and 87 per cent of people said, taking all things into consideration, they are happy with their lives. These are all positive indicators of general social satisfaction," Mr Markus said.

In a related issue, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had instructed departmental and detention centre staff to call asylum seekers as "illegal" arrivals and as "detainees" over the presently used term "clients".

Fairfax Media was able to obtain an interdepartmental email through which a department official wrote that the "department has received correspondence from the minister clarifying his expectations about the department's use of terminology."

As for chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis of the Asylum Seeker resource Centre, the instruction from Mr Morrison is dehumanising for the asylum seekers.

''He's [the minister] deliberately trying to dehumanise asylum seekers by making them less than human. They're 'detainees', not people, and that suggests criminality. And calling people 'transferees' suggests they have no rights; they're a package, a parcel, in transit," Mr Karapanagiotidis told The Sydney Morning Herald.

As for the Press Council of Australia, it called for media not to use "illegal migrants" or "illegals" to refer to the asylum seekers as these terms implied "criminality or other serious misbehaviour''.

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles calls for Aussies to treat each and every human being with respect.

''What language we use matters, and it's really important we don't demonise those seeking to come to Australia. Terms like 'illegal' aren't helpful. It's really important that Australia treats every human being with respect.''

Opposition leader Bill Shorten echoed the same opinion.

 ''I probably wasn't happy that our language about refugees was calling people illegal. I do believe that we're an immigration nation. Other than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, we're all boat people or plane people. We are the nation of the second chance and we have been since European settlement.''

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