Pung, Alice: Living with racism in Australia

Alice Pung

Living with racism in Australia‘, New York Times, 7 December 2016

Summarises her life since birth in Melbourne in 1981.

Australia’s fling with multiculturalism was temporary. In less than 15 years [after 1981], politicians began advocating assimilation for nonwhites. In Australia today, the discussion around race and immigration has deteriorated to the point where many politicians no longer appear to believe that assimilation is even possible.

Racism has returned to the front of public discourse. Visiting Australia this week, the United Nations special rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, condemned Australian politicians for “xenophobic hate speech.”

The author recounts her personal experience of racism during life in Melbourne. Government policies reinforce and reflect public attitudes.

Refugees are no longer comforted by a welcoming Australian government. Our new arrivals are no longer benefiting from a national policy of multiculturalism that tells them they belong. They are told to fit in or get lost, yet no one demonstrates how to achieve this assimilation.

The Honest History Book, coming in April 2017, includes a chapter by Gwenda Tavan which canvasses similar issues to those addressed in this article.

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