Muslims face discrimination in Australia.
Muslims face discrimination in Australia.

Kiwis, Muslims tell of discrimination in Australia

NEW Zealanders, not Muslims, are most likely to complain about discrimination in Australia according to a landmark report.

But the Australians Today report, based on a survey of more than 10,000 people, found most migrants were very satisfied with their lives in Australia.

Professor Andrew Markus, who wrote the report, said many New Zealanders, who hold Special Category Visas, feel they are given a "harsh deal" in Australia because they can live and work here but are not eligible to vote, receive welfare, or other benefits.

"...People feel resentment having worked in this country for years, paid their taxes, contributed to the community and then having difficulties and not being able to get Centrelink benefits.

"They also resent the fact that an Australian going to New Zealand does qualify for full citizenship but if you come the other way, you don't."

The other group of immigrants reporting discrimination was those from South Sudan.

Professor Markus reported a "disturbing" 80 per cent of respondents saying they had experienced discrimination.

Both New Zealand and South Sudanese migrants reported low levels of trust with authorities.

Kiwis hold little trust in political parties (10 per cent) and the South Sudanese reporting the lowest level of trust in the police (24 per cent) out of any other group.

The survey, carried out by the Scanlon Foundation and Monash University, found a high level of negativity towards Muslims.

Women were twice as likely to face discrimination as men.

One of the most disturbing stories involved a Melbourne tram driver who refused to allow a heavily pregnant woman on board when he looked up and noticed she was wearing Muslim garb.

Many of the Muslim respondents complained of being stereotyped and misrepresented by the media, who had little interest in actually talking to the community.

But overall, Professor Markus said Australia is still one of the most successful countries when it comes to integrating migrants but he said there will always be rejection and intolerance.

"The level of diversity within the Muslim community is of a complexity that is not recognised in much public
discussion,'' the report noted.

"One participant commented: 'we are lumped as one by the media or some politician, while in reality we are not as one, we are extremely diverse.'

"There are divisions between the secular and the religious; between the different streams of Islam; between young, the
middle aged and elderly; and between national and ethnic groups.

"Australia's Muslims are as diverse as the Australian population.

"A substantial majority of Muslims have a high level of identification with Australia; 72% indicated that they
had a sense of belonging in Australia to a 'great' or 'moderate' extent; 75% indicated that they were
satisfied with their life in Australia.

"There are, however, problems. There is a small minority within the Muslim population that is less positive in their
outlook and identification; thus in response to the question on sense of belonging, a relatively high 14% indicated that they did not know or declined to answer.

"Negativity towards Muslims is relatively high in Australia; some groups of Muslim Australians reported
relatively high levels of discrimination over the last twelve months: 51% of those born in Australia, 46% born
in Iraq, and 47% of those on Student visas.

"Also a relatively high proportion of Muslim women report discrimination, some 50% higher than men.

"In focus group discussions Muslim respondents indicated concern at what they saw as deterioration in relations, linked to the actions of politicians who they saw as inciting division within the community, and at much of the Australian media which was seen as biased and ill-informed in much of its coverage."

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