Australians seem unaware of the rampant racism in their backyard.
Last week we commented on the one sided reporting of Nine News who seem not to understand that the institutional racism in Australia towards Aboriginal and Indigenous communities is an issue that needs to be addressed by the media to create awareness rather than reporting on how the Indigenous community might seem to spend their money.
The death of George Floyd draws worldwide attention to the ongoing racism in the US and sparked protests not just in the US but also around the whole world.
But what about the continuing racism in Australia?
“The deep anguish felt after the death of George Floyd is something Indigenous communities understand all too well, except here, they are still waiting for their moment of international reckoning,” Isabella Higgins, ABC.
Unfortunately, Nine News seems to be continuing its ignorant journey when covering the US riots for Australia’s broadcast:
“I really appreciate you giving your perspective mate, because people in Australia don’t have the understanding of the history of police killings and things here,” she said at the end of the interview,” The Today Show, Nine News.
After talking to one of the protesters in Los Angeles her comment has gone viral on Twitter and provoked many Australians who were furious about her ignorance.
Amy McQuire who is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander journalist. She has published numerous articles for the Guardian and blog posts on racism in Australia. She comments on the matter as following:
“Australia is outraged at police brutality in the US, but apathetic to the lives of black people in their own country. […] While the high profile deaths of black men in the United States have allowed white Australians to see the racist violence perpetrated by police and the white supremacy ingrained in systems, these are lessons they are not willing to learn on this land. […] If you want to support ‘Black Lives Matter’, support it in this country too,”Amy McQuire.
Facts and statistics show that institutional racism is one of Australia’s biggest challenges that needs to be reflected and not downplayed by media.
See below an extract from the Guardian:
“Dungay is one of at least 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the royal commission in 1991, the Guardian’s latest analysis shows. There have been at least five deaths since Guardian Australia updated its Deaths Inside project in August 2019, two of which have resulted in murder charges being laid.”
“In 2018, Guardian Australia analysed all Aboriginal deaths in custody reported via coronial findings, official statements and other means since 2008. We updated that analysis in 2019, and found that government failures to follow their own procedures and provide appropriate medical care to Indigenous people in custody were major causes of the rising rates of Indigenous people dying in jail.
The proportion of Indigenous deaths where medical care was required but not given increased from 35.4% to 38.6%.
The proportion of Indigenous deaths where not all procedures were followed in the events leading up to the death increased from 38.8% to 41.2%.
The proportion of Indigenous deaths involving mental health or cognitive impairment increased from 40.7% to 42.8%.
The proportion of deaths attributed to a medical episode following restraint increased from 4.9% of all deaths in the 2018 analysis to 6.5% with new data in 2019.
Indigenous women were still less likely to have received all appropriate medical care prior to their death, and authorities were less likely to have followed all their own procedures in cases where an Indigenous woman died in custody.”
432 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the royal commission in 1991 and the increased death rates present that in fact Australia is dealing with racism and institutionalized discrimination on an everyday basis.
Just as the Australian reports:
“But the US is not alone in maintaining a criminal justice system that operates unfairly against disadvantaged sections of society. As I noted on this page in January, one in 50 indigenous Australians is in prison. This is about 13 times more than for all other Australians. […] Many Australians watching the US riots on the evening news may be surprised to learn that we imprison indigenous Australians at more than double the rate that African-Americans are jailed in the US. And it is getting worse.”
Those facts demonstrate the criminal justice system in Australia is incarcerating indigenous Australians on the foundation of racism even to a higher extend than the US.
“We lock up Indigenous Australians at four times the rate of black Americans. It's an even more jarring figure in the youth detention system, where about 50 per cent of all detainees are Indigenous,” Isabella Higgins, ABC.
We cannot forget that racism is still all around us even when the media is not covering it properly. We tend to forget about the discrimination towards Indigenous communities as they do not have the political support, generally live in remote areas and do not have the power of numbers.
“In Australia these incidents often occur in remote corners of the country, foreign to most of us, while most African-Americans police shootings occur in big cities […] Where there are lots of people, there is a media presence, then there is public scrutiny, that leads to accountability. When terrible things happen in remote areas, they too easily slip under the radar,” Isabella Higgins, ABC.
We need to constantly stress the continuing racism that Australia and the rest of the world is facing, and create global awareness around social injustice. Media and journalism that is not covering those incidents appropriately need to be called into question. We believe that by giving minority groups a voice and strengthen their fight against institutionalized racism, we can create a better society and help in the fight of racism.
Author: Nina Dostal, Class PR