Racism is widespread throughout Australia and the worst of it is targeted towards Aboriginal populations.
Australia’s colonial history is full of racism which began with claims of terra nullius and a campaign to exterminate our race as settlers from the UK claimed we were some kind of inferior sub species of human, more closely related to animals.
Today racism continues on. It is present in every town and city across Australia but there are some towns and cities where racism is so upfront that we often see disturbing news reports reaching national and international headlines. Racism isn’t something that you can measure precisely. Some areas are more outwardly racist than others, while some areas display a more subtle or even subconscious discrimination in places such as the health, education, justice and employment sectors.
The following list outlines the most racist towns and cities in Australia. It was compiled from an online poll that was shared widely among several major Indigenous Facebook pages throughout December 2017. The poll has since received well over 1000 individual votes.
1. Alice Springs
Hardly a week goes by in Australia when we don’t hear Alice Springs in the news as racial attacks or reports of open discrimination/segregation are common. The social fabric of Alice Springs is complex but the current self serving leadership of the region and racism perpetuated in online community forums do little to strive for change in this town. Just last year the town made headlines where it was discovered that some community members were patrolling the streets and attacking Aboriginal youths at random.
At no surprise Kalgoorlie appears high on the list just after Alice Springs. This remote town generates wealth from the richness of Aboriginal land but it is the Aboriginal people who are treated as fringe dwellers by police and many members of the non-Indigenous population. Just like Alice Springs we have seen some shocking events take place that have been spurred on by online community forums that foster hate towards Indigenous people. Most notably the murder of Elijah Doughty and the lack of justice against his killer will leave deep scars in this town for many years to come.
Townsville may or may not come as a surprise to you. The town itself was named after a wealthy slave trader, Robert Towns. This city is now home to the North Queensland Cowboys which is proud of their team that has always had a high representation of Indigenous players. The Club does a lot of work with remote Indigenous students but it appears desperate attention is needed with the local youth of Townsville. Just a few weeks ago Townsville made national headlines after a Woolworths security guard claimed that no Murri’s were allowed entry after 6pm. The cities Indigenous population is struggling with poor rates of health, unemployment and education.
Darwin and neighbouring Palmerston are often associated with the word apartheid. Just last year Darwin made headlines when vision was sent to us which clearly showed a non-Indigenous business owner hosing away an elderly Aboriginal man. Many people condemned the actions but in Darwin the local community actually rallied around the business owner even though the vision shows the man was not in front of his business and had not done anything wrong as as claimed.
Racism in Perth is very much open for all to see. Racism can be seen by the actions of the council, police, transit guards and by members of the public. The child protection sector as well as the public housing sector also have very nasty reputations in Perth and across Western Australia. Almost every Indigenous protest in the city is met with mounted horse units which conjure up images of years gone by when Aboriginal people were marched in neck chains and sent to become slaves or into concentration camps like Rottnest island. In 2015, the actions of the council and police which included repeated theft of property from a homeless community on the island of Matagarup were alleged of being carried out illegally.
6. Port Augusta
Port Augusta made national headlines late last year when a father and son targeted an Indigenous boy who retaliated after the man’s daughter made racist remark to him in school. The vision clearly showed the father encouraging his son to bash the Indigenous boy. Earlier in the year we received vision of a four wheel drive hunting down Aboriginal children at night. The vision shows the vehicle narrowly missing one child. More disturbingly, news of these actions which were very similar to the case of Elijah Doughty were not reported by the media.
Katherine is the largest town between Alice Springs and the Darwin/Palmerston region. Once again the word apartheid is often used in association with this town. Back in 2013 it was discovered that a local shopping mall began charging people $2 for use of the toilets. Interestingly this decision was defended by weak Indigenous leadership from Bess Price. Like most of the towns and cities that made this list, Katherine struggles with basic issues such as education, health, incarceration and employment.
Australia’s postcard city. But for Indigenous people, Sydney can be a very frustrating place to live. From the current gentrification of Redfern to the open discrimination in Western Sydney. The city is home to the largest Indigenous population in Australia. Despite living in the largest city, Indigenous people still suffer from poor health and rates of education. Employment rates are also hampered by discrimination for job seekers and workplace discrimination against those lucky enough to have gained employment. The city also has a very cold, brutal and unrecognised history which is still felt today by our people.
Toowoomba is the second out of three Queensland towns to make the top 10 list. It’s surprising that a town that bears an Aboriginal name is actually one of Australia’s most racist towns. Toowoomba was even labelled as Australia’s most racist city by a former Aboriginal resident after it was discovered the town was one of the first in Australia to begin selling Golliwogs after they started disappearing from shelves in the 1960’s.
Rockhampton narrowly beat out Australia’s national capital Canberra to make the top 10 list. Rockhampton has a brutal history of massacres and racism. The town currently has Indigenous people locked in prison for crimes they did not do. It is also common to hear locals bragging about Aboriginal hunting trips that took place in years gone by.
Towns and cities just outside of the Top 10 include Canberra, Dubbo, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Cairns, Kempsey, Mt Isa & Geraldton.
The point of writing this article is not to shame the towns and cities listed above. The aim is to draw attention to the issue of racism all across Australia. The poll results represent places all over Australia. Racism affects our people every day in this country. We truly feel like foreigners in our own country.
And a word to any kind souls reading this. Trying to approach us on the street to tell us your a good one only serves to make you feel better. Instead of trying to rid yourselves of guilt, how about challenging those being racist and asking why more isn’t being done to stamp it out?
Your one minute chats often make no real difference to our lives when we know the big players like the government and the media are hell bent on marginalising our people. We need to see widespread education campaigns in our schools and in the media to really get our attention and show us that Australia is serious about repairing the damage done by decades of discrimination. The awareness series below is a great starting point. These ads were made by a charity (Beyond blue). Campaigns like this need to become more widespread across mainstream media. Documentaries and debates on ABC & SBS simply do not reach the masses.
Welcome to Country is an independent Indigenous news/media website. Over the last 12 months we have been able to break the manipulative grip that mainstream media has when it comes to getting our voices heard.