More than 80 per cent of Asian-Australians experience discrimination: new study

| September 13, 2019

Eighty-two per cent of surveyed Asian-Australians report that they have experienced discrimination in Australia, according to a new study conducted ahead of the first Asian-Australian Leadership Summit (AALS), an initiative of Asialink, PwC and the Australian National University.

The results are a part of a wide-ranging study conducted by the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research & Methods and the Social Research Centre to determine ‘Exposure to and Perceptions of Discrimination.’

Sixty-five per cent of the Asian-Australians reported being discriminated against in the workplace, while the most common setting for discrimination was at a shop or restaurant (71 per cent).

‘The findings of this survey are a stark illustration of the challenges faced by Asian-Australians in our society – and particularly in the workplace,’ says Penny Burtt, Group CEO of Asialink, a centre for creative Asia engagement based at the University of Melbourne.

‘This study reinforces the need to do more to advance Asian-Australians in our workplaces, particularly given the important role that this community can play in our successful engagement with the Asian region.’

‘Asian-Australians make up 12 per cent of Australia’s population, but they are seriously under-represented in senior leadership positions, with only 3.1 per cent of those roles (Chief Executives and other ‘C-suite’ leaders) in our companies, government, universities and community organisations,’ says Chin Tan, Australian Racial Discrimination Commissioner and an Advisory Group member for the AALS.

The survey showed that the most commonly barriers to Asian-Australians obtaining leadership positions in business, professional and other organisational roles cited by Asian-Australians themselves were the ‘stereotypes associated with the group’ (42 per cent) and discrimination (44 per cent).

‘There’s more work to be done to address these findings,’ says Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, Chancellor of the ANU. ‘Ensuring cultural diversity in our business, professional and other organisational leadership needs to become a priority across our community.

‘There really is a bamboo ceiling in Australia and change will only come when we address the very real challenges faced by Asian-Australians’, said Professor Evans.