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The percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have encountered at least one kind of major discrimination virtually doubled in 2019 and currently sits at an alarming 49.7%, according to the latest Social Inclusion Index.

The annual report, established by Inclusive Australia and Monash University, examines Australians' attitudes across belonging, wellbeing, prejudice, discrimination, inclusion and contact with traditionally marginalised or disadvantaged groups.

Data from this year's report, collated in December 2020, shows that discrimination was more prevalent for Indigenous Australians than any other group for the third consecutive year. 

Alongside major discrimination — like being unjustly refused a promotion or job or hindered from advancing education — the report also considered everyday discrimination, which refers to "more chronic, routine and relatively minor experiences of unfair treatment."

Everyday discrimination often takes the form of being treated with less respect or receiving subpar service at stores.

“The percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders reporting that they experience a form of everyday discrimination at least weekly increased significantly, from 30.2% in December 2017 to 54.1% in December 2018, and remained high in December 2019 at 54.9% and December 2020 at 51.0%,” the report states. 

Last year, almost 2 in 5 Australians revealed that they either “never” or “less than once per year” connect or communicate with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, or any religious minority groups. 

Andrea Pearman, the CEO of Inclusive Australia, told Pro Bono News the more contact an individual has with these groups, the less likely they are to inflict prejudice or discrimination.

“We first need to better understand what’s causing the problem and then find ways to increase positive contact between these groups and the rest of the community to encourage more compassion and inclusive behaviours,” she said. “We have done some research around the types of things people can do in their lives to be more inclusive. These include being open to, exposing yourself to and educating yourself about different cultures, views and ways of life.”

Pearman added: “It also involves calling out exclusive behaviour when you see it and enabling the participation of minority groups in your private and professional circles.”

Inequality between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations remains high.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for 28% of the nation’s prison population, despite making up just 3.3% of the overall population.

Indigenous life expectancy, meanwhile, is almost nine years and nearly eight years less than non-Indigenous males and females, respectively.

The Indigenous child mortality rate is twice the rate for non-Indigenous children.

Employment for Indigenous Australians sits at around 50%, compared to approximately 75% for non-Indigenous Australians. 

The Social Inclusion Index follows a similar report from November 2020 by Reconciliation Australia.

The report revealed the number of Australia's First People who believe Australia is a generally racist country grew from 43% in 2018 to 60% in 2020. 

Just under half of Australia’s non-Indigenous population agreed.


Demand Equity

Discrimination Against Indigenous Australians Rises Substantially: Survey

By Madeleine Keck