New South Wales faces the highest levels of racial and religious tensions in Australia, a study conducted by the University of Western Sydney recently found.
The “Challenging Racism Project,” released on Feb. 23, surveyed over 12,500 people from all states and territories across Australia over a 12-year period.
Overall, more than one in 10 of those polled identified themselves as “prejudiced against other cultures.” The rest may not be racist but 41.4 per cent of Australians believe that Muslims, Aboriginals, Asians or Jews “don’t fit into Australian society.”
According to the report, 53.7 percent of surveyors in New South Wales held anti-Muslim views. Additionally, 45.4 percent of respondents believed that there are some cultural or ethnic views that don’t fit in with society.
Though the state had the highest levels of anti-Muslim views, other Australians’ views on the matter were not far behind. Queensland followed with 48.6 percent, while 42.7 percent of participants in Victoria also had negative views on Muslims.
According to Australia’s Age newspaper, data from New South Wales was collected in 2001, a troubled period. But Kevin Dunn, professor of the University of Western Sydney and leader of the project, believes the data would have been fairly the same if it was conducted today.
“My gut feeling is that data would still be higher than in other jurisdictions,” Dunn told the Age. He added that the findings reflect the apparent racial hostility in the state towards Asians, Aboriginals and Muslims.
The report also found that, nationally, 12.3 percent of respondents admitted to being prejudiced against other cultures and 11.2 percent of people surveyed disagree with interracial marriages.
Still, race relations as a whole throughout Australia proved to be mainly positive, as 86.8 percent of participants agreed that it is a good thing for society to be comprised of those from other cultures. Additionally, 84.4 percent of respondents believe that all races are equal.
Dunn explained that while a majority of Australians are positive about living in a multicultural society, he added in a statement that, “There are clearly a significant number of Australians that still have a level of anxiety or discomfort about cultural difference, which makes the case for a nation-wide commitment to challenging racism that much stronger.”
“Each region of the country has its own strengths and challenges, as well as its own capacity to address those challenges. In fact, the differences between regions are to such a degree that to compare them would be like comparing apples to oranges,” Dunn said in a statement.
Instead of drawing direct comparisons between jurisdictions, the research team focused more on the goal of addressing the nature of racism and developing solutions to be executed at a local level.
The project was a 12-year study that phone-polled people across Australia. Participants were asked questions about their views on racism as well as their encounters with it.