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Monday, 8 December 2014

MELBOURNE THE AGE 8 DECEMBER - VICTORIANS BELIEVE SOME ETHNIC GROUPS DO NOT 'FIT IN'

An increasing number of Victorians believe there are ethnic or racial groups in Australia who do not "fit in", despite most saying they are in favour of cultural diversity. People who express prejudiced attitudes are most likely to feel negative towards Muslims (22 per cent), people from the Middle East (14 per cent), Africans (11 per cent) and refugees (11 per cent). New VicHealth research into Victorian attitudes to race and cultural diversity has found that while most of the 1250 people surveyed said they often had positive contact with people from other groups, race-based intolerance remained common. About two in every five people said there were groups in Australia that did not "fit in". The proportion of people with this view has increased almost 20 per cent over the past seven years. Researcher Yin Paradies, from Deakin University, said events like the global financial crisis, a fear of terrorism and debates over asylum seekers could influence people's attitudes significantly. Many people put Muslims and people from the Middle East into one category, not realising that each group was extremely diverse, Professor Paradies said. "We're not a particularly racist state in the scheme of Australian society. When we have national surveys, we find people a bit more tolerant than other areas," he said. Joseph Youhana, who came to Australia as an Iraqi Christian refugee, said his experience had been overwhelmingly positive but he had the advantage of a good grasp of English. "People need a clear pathway when they come here; they get lost. You need someone to hold your hand and walk you through," he said. Many of the results from the survey were positive: 80 per cent of people said Aborigines held a special place as the first Australians and almost all said it was important to treat people from racial and ethnic minorities fairly. But about three in every 10 people disagreed that being Aborigine made it harder to succeed, and two in every five people believed Aborigines got more government money than they should. VicHealth chief executive officer Jerril Rechter said racism could be a health risk. It has strong links to conditions like depression and anxiety and can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victorians-embrace-diversity-but-believe-some-ethnic-groups-do-not-fit-in-20141207-11zc2u.html

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