Please Don’t Hate Us. Not All Australians are Racist Assholes.

Our Global Adventure

*photograph by*

Despite what the evening news, or your morning newspaper may say, not everyone living in this big, isolated country is racist. Those of us with a heart implore the rest of the world not tarnish all Australians with the same brush. I am both saddened and ashamed to see Australia appearing in international news for all the wrong reasons. The Australian Government’s current policy on Asylum Seekers and border control has recently come under criticism from the UN Human Rights Council, suggesting Australia is violating international law obligations toward people seeking Asylum in our country. 

Yes, I will admit that to an international reader the obvious statements would be “Well didn’t you vote for the Government?” “Isn’t your Government supposed to represent the population?” In theory, yes that is true, but there are only two major parties in this country, and since both campaigned with a revolting mixture of fear mongering, propaganda and racism, we were pretty much buggered. Even though The Greens had nicer things to say, they’ve barely the numbers to form government on their own, so if it meant a seat on the bench, they’d buddy up with the big boys. So what’s an Aussie with a heart to do? Well, despite being quite a passive aggressive stand, there was a rise of invalid votes (voting is compulsory in Australia) in last years Federal Election, showing many would rather vote for none of the candidates with their parties currrent policies. There was also a record number of votes for minor parties, (take that you major parties, I’d rather give my vote to the kooky guy no one has ever heard of!). Beyond that, many naively hoped and prayed that whoever took Government wouldn’t actually see out all of their horrible promises.

Sadly though, they have. And now the rest of the world is noticing the cruel measures that Australia is taking to ‘control our borders’. With great shame, I can confirm that yes, from what we are being told, Asylum Seekers attempting the dangerous crossing from South East Asia by boat are being turned back, or taken to offshore detention facilities where the conditions have been reported to be inhumane and a violation of Human Rights. For those Asylum Seekers already on the mainland, many are denied the right to work, and a freeze on Protection Visa’s has been implemented. As a result thousands (see we’re not all assholes) are peacefully demonstrating for a better way.

Our Global Adventure Candlelight Vigil held in Brisbane for Asylum Seekers

I don’t pretend to be an expert on border control. I don’t know what would happen if we just open our hearts , and the gates. But here’s some things I feel in my gut. Treating people this way just doesn’t feel right. Detaining people who are seeking our help, on an island in Papua New Guinea , feels like we are shirking our international responsibility. Long-drawn out detention, in disgusting tent facilities (whilst Refugee Claims are supposed to be being processed), feels like we’re letting people down. Detaining children and pregnant women without adequate access to medical care feels barbaric. There has to be a better way.

Our Global Adventure Over 4000 gathered in Sydney recently to remember Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati

If our politicians have found a way to ignore gut instinct, then I can only wonder how sheltered their lives have been living in Australia, because here’s some things that traveling has taught me. Muslim is not synonymous with terrorist. If it were, then Catholic would be synonymous with terrorist as well. Also, a mother is a mother, no matter what the colour of her skin is, or the way she dresses. Only a truly desperate mother would risk the lives of her children by fleeing. She’d have to believe that the alternative, staying, was far worse. And, for those that would criticise the fathers who use all the family savings to pay a people smuggler and travel ahead without their wives and children, these men are brave, strong and motivated. Surely qualities that would be welcome assets to our small population. And to anyone who believes that ‘paying’ your way to Australia is ‘queue jumping’ where is the magical queue of which you speak? I’ve certainly not noticed an orderly line for Asylum Seekers at international airports. For the Australian’s ignorant enough to believe only poor people without the means to ‘pay’ their way to our shores should be granted Legal Asylum, have they ever considered that the worlds poorest have even less opportunity to flee? If Australia were torn apart by civil war tomorrow, wouldn’t it be those of us with money in the bank, houses, cars and professions that would flee first and fastest with our children?

Our Global Adventure Melbourne crowds gather.

Every day in Australia, I hear statements all around me from strangers, newsreaders, politicians and and even friends and family that are, well, quite frankly, racist. Often I need to remind myself that not all Australian’s are racist assholes. Some are, but some just believe the rubbish they’ve been told. As parents, we hope that by traveling with our children they will learn first hand that the world is a very small place, and everyone is connected. It’s full of different cultures that should be celebrated and embraced, not feared or treated unfairly. The world will be our classroom in lessons of kindness and generosity, so that our children will understand and follow their gut instincts on how people should be treated.

Our Global Adventure Here in Adelaide

I can’t help but recall a significant event that happened in my life on September 12, 2001. Everybody knows what happened on September 11th that year, but on September 12th I learnt a big truth. That morning, I went to visit the staff at a Primary School where I’d been teaching up until the Summer prior. The Primary School was made up of children from the surrounding council housing flats, and over 90% were from Muslim Bengali Families. To assist in the classrooms, the majority of the support staff where also Bengali Muslim women. When I went into the staff-room that morning the mood was very sombre, and some of the teachers and support staff were teary. One of the assistants who I’d worked most closely with the year before, hugged me when she saw that I’d come to visit, and her tears began to flow. At first, I was confused, I asked her if she’d known someone who was inside the towers in New York the day before. “No,” she replied, “but nothing will ever be the same now. Everybody will hate Muslims because of what those bad men did. People will think that we all wanted this to happen, and that we are all bad.”

Just like I’m asking you today, not to let few bad Australian apples spoil the whole barrel, my friend was asking me to do the same back in 2001. Sadly 13 years on, she was spot on.     I wonder what people will say about Australian’s 13 years from now?


14 thoughts on “Please Don’t Hate Us. Not All Australians are Racist Assholes.

  1. Couldn’t agree more. As an Australian living overseas I find myself constantly embarrassed these days to be Australian as most of the policies that are discussed in the international media are simply indefensible.
    It wasn’t like that when I traveled 20 years ago, when I was proud to be Australian – I can’t believe that we have regressed so far.

    • All too often we just shake our heads in disbelief at the evening news David. It’s been 12 years since we last left the country, and I agree, we were proud to be Australian then. When Simon and I backpacked through Belgium we were once stopped by an elderly gentleman who had seen the Aussie flags on our backpacks. He wanted to shake our hand and tell us that Belgium will always be grateful for the Australians who had traveled so far from home to come to their aid during the two World Wars. He had such a fond view of who Aussies are. We can’t help but wonder what others might think of us now if they were to see the evening news.

    • Ouch! That’s a bit harsh! Besides, we’re from Adelaide in South Australia, Free Pioneers settled our patch of Australia thank you very much! And we KNOW there are good, kind people in Oz, it’s just that the nasty ones seem to make more noise 🙁

      • I have lived in Adelaide for over 40 years and it is the most covert racist place in Australia. I have lived in other states for a short time, but nothing compares with this. They have also had more than their share of British migrants who have brought their baggage with them! Migrants should avoid South Australia.

  2. I am sorry if i disagree with you, but i do think majority of Australians are racist assholes.Almost every australian I have met, in person or online, has either been an outright racist or had racist undertones while talking to me. I am quite well off as I have a construction business in India, but once travelling in business class to london from dubai, I met an old australian man. After a little friendly convo he bluntly said “Frankly I haven’t seen many Indians travel in business”. This is nothing compared to what comments are made online.
    One fellow, a certified perv, said he felt ‘sad’ that I was Indian. This is after being north Indian, and having a fair skin colour. I used to like your country, as a close colleague of my dad married a wonderful australian lady, and would shower me with love and care whenever I used to visit their house in Delhi as a kid. But those memories have been eroded away by the sheer amount of racist jerks I have met afterwards, I have decided I shall never visit Australia, for my own safety.
    I am once again sorry for the comment, but the truth hurts.

    • I am sorry to read that you’ve had such a bad experience with the Australians that you have met. It makes us very sad that there are racist Australians who would say such awful things to you. In this post I hoped to highlight that not all Australians are racist, and I sincerely hope that you will meet many other Australians as kind as the lady that married your father’s friend.

      • I thank you for your quick and kind reply. I realize I was bit harsh with my comment. People like you make this world a better place 🙂

  3. Yo. I’m a 39 year old male from Toronto Canada, I was raised here in Toronto, but being that my Father is from Sydney, and lives there I have collectively spent about 8-9 years of my life living in and around Sydney and traveled much of the East coast from Victoria to Queensland and during that time formed the opinion that Australian’s are not very nice people on a global scale. I do not enjoy spending time in their country, as they so often like to make you (as a visitor) that it IS THEIR COUNTRY. I think this stems from the fact that they are isolated and scarred. I don’t intend to return there again. No love for Australia or Australians over here.

    • I’m sorry that you’ve felt this way on your visits to Australia Andrew. It is my hope that from this post I can show that there are many kind, thoughtful, welcoming Australians. All too often people only re tell negative tales and experiences, but it is important to tell good stories as well as a reminder that humans can and do show kindness and compassion everywhere. I hope that you will return to Australia one day Andrew and leave with a much better impression next time, because, not all Australian’s are racist assholes! 🙂

  4. There needs to be a distinction made between white Australians and Australians from non-Anglo backgrounds. The latter I’ve never had any issues with, but white Australians have almost invariably been scumbags. They actually personify all of the stereotypes that are not quite correctly pegged on Americans – loud, obnoxious, arrogant, self centered, never shut up about their country and make every effort to belittle the countries of others. In fact a blind hatred of other countries and cultures is really their defining trait. Now that their status as a full blown welfare state for the bogan population(99% of white Australians) has thrust them up the rankings in the UN Human Welfare Payout Development Index, many white Aussies feel they deserve a medal.

    What white Aussies don’t realize, of course, is the rest of the developed world did not just start developing in 1995. Things like indoor plumbing, air conditioning, the end of 80’s fashion, foods other than sausages on white bread slices, and driving cars less than 20 years old are not new and exciting concepts to the rest of us. Let alone the fact they pay 2-4 times more for everything than everyone else in the world but are too mentally isolated(Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!) to realize this. Australian society would fold overnight if they lost their white-collar immigrant ruling class. Their universities are 100% reliant on international student fees for funding, and Australian society in general is 100% reliant on foreign intellectual capital, foreign technology, foreign investors, foreign military, foreign cultural influence, and foreign everything else, just to keep the wheels turning. White Aussies do mostly unskilled service/retail/labor work as it pays enough to rent a room in a sharehouse and go drinking in Bali once per year, and showing up to work hungover everyday is acceptable – the main two requirements most of them look for in a job.

    It’s no wonder the 1% of white Australians who weren’t raised by poor white trash(have British parents) move overseas asap to avoid funding the Centrelink gravytrain and paying a $1 million mortgage on a post WW2 shack the size of a shoebox.

  5. I’m a Kiwi living in Australia, of course by choice. I take people for who they are and always give them a chance. I am not talking about individuals here and have many good Australian friends who are amazing people.

    Here are my generalised thoughts:

    The Australian media and key figures in the media seem to encourage mild forms of verbal abuse – and it does seem to be part of the Ozzi psyche. Yet at the same time they work so hard to minimise abuse and spend millions on campaigns against it.

    The news is trivial most of the time, with the majority focusing on sports and petty things. A lot of the time it comes across as a poorly choreographed soap opera, missing true humanness and feeling. I also often hear presenters say inappropriate, or silly immature things, encouraging attitudes I wouldn’t want my kids growing up with, yet there are no consequences for them – it seems.

    They think their jokes are endearing, but usually go one step too far – then try to make the person feel small for not getting a joke.

    Attitudes change in different states. Melbourne and Sydney have the least friendly people, but this is the same with a lot of big cities around the world. Brisbane and Perth, from my experience, have the most welcoming and friendly Australians.

    For me, it is the failing of the Aussie media, sports heroes and the likes who fail to set respectable standards of behavior and attitudes that let this nation down. The people are just people like anywhere else. But attitudes often germinate from the media.

  6. I’m from India and have traveled quite a bit – Europe, SE Asia, Middle-East. Australians are my favorite nationality apart from my own. The second largest group of friends I have on Facebook happen to be Australians! I know each one of them personally.

    I always found Aussies easy to get along with although it took me a little while to get used to their culture, they rarely take themselves seriously which is a trait I find very appealing. The first time I encountered Aussies was on a vacation I had in Thailand at age 23. At age 32, I did two lengthy backpacking trips to Europe where I met a hell lot of Aussies in hostel dorms, car-shares and cheap bars. There was not a moment of dullness or boredom with Aussies, we exchanged a lot of generous banter and the general atmosphere was all about feel good.

    Ausies have a sunny, optimistic outlook to life which I find t.b.h, very refreshing, a sense of mischief called “larrikinism” which is a great way to deal with oppression and problems in life (those convict genes surely have helped create a generation of fun-loving people). I love the way Aussies poke their finger at authority and rigid norms. Ausssies love to be drunk, and can be really obnoxious when under influence. They take pride in being a classless, egalitiarian, gender-equal society which is more than I can say about India which is fractured along linguistic, religious and wealth lines.

    I believe Aussies are more open-minded compared to other nationalities because they are a fairly new country (less than 200 years old) and don’t have the cultural baggage affecting the national consciousness of so-called ancient lands.

    I don’t know where all this hatred for Aussies is coming from. Maybe it’s pure jealousy, you live in a sunshine continent with abundant natural resources and a very high standard of living and wealth. That’s why people want to take a dig at you for being so damn lucky.

    Give me a scumbag, shallow Aussie anyday over 10 highly refined Germans, 50 smartass Americans (try measuring the sheer decibel noise in that room) or a 1000 wealthy Chinese and Arabs.

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