When we dip into recession, we see an increase in racism

Generally in Australia, we all get along pretty well and feel good about our society.

Studies show we have a strong “social cohesion index,” which has remained relatively stable for the past seven years.

But we cannot take this for granted, especially if the coronavirus pandemic also leads to a recession.

In the context of COVID-19, Australia has seen its politicians take quick and decisive action to protect our health and our economy. But in the flurry of recent press conferences from state and federal leaders, social cohesion has been dangerously neglected.

We already have racism in Australia

The advent of coronavirus has lead to disturbing reports of racism in Australia, including accounts of Asian Australians being spat on, verbally abused and bashed.

The Australian Human Rights Commission says it recorded more complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act in February than at any time over the previous 12 months.

While complaints have remained within the high end of the normal range, since the start of February, one-third of all racism complaints made to the commission have been COVID-related.

Even before coronavirus, we were already seeing worrying examples of racism in Australia.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has found a marked increase in the number of more serious incidents of anti-Semitism. In 2019, 40% of respondents to the Scanlon survey reported negative or very negative attitudes towards Muslims.

Read the article by Dr Susan Carland AHRCin The Big Smoke.