Most racist online content goes unreported

Rebecca Gredley
·2-min read

More than half of Australia's social media users have seen racist content online and most did not report it, a survey has revealed.

Of the 55 per cent, more than one in five reported it to the website operator, 18 per cent wrote a comment and 11 per cent shared it with family or friends.

Just one per cent reported racist content to police or the government.

The long-running survey conducted by the Scanlon Foundation asks Australians to name their biggest concerns each year.

Last year's survey was the first time Australians were asked about social media use and if they had seen racist content in the previous months.

People were asked if they had seen racist content on specific online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp and an online forum.

Young adults and women were more likely to have seen racist content on Facebook, with much lower proportions on other platforms.

Women were more likely to report racist content.

Those questions tied in with community attitudes towards multiculturalism and immigration, which has remained supportive.

But there were discriminatory attitudes towards people of non-Anglo backgrounds, including Iraqi, Sudanese, Chinese and the Muslim community.

Multicultural Affairs minister Alex Hawke said that did not mean right-wing extremism was breeding.

"Of course the government rejects racism and racist views," he told Sky News.

"There is too many racist views and attitudes out there sometimes that we see towards particular communities, particularly Asian and Muslim communities."

Australia's security agencies have reported an increase of far right extremism.

Labor's multicultural affairs spokesman Andrew Giles says issues raised from the report need to be addressed immediately.

"Multiculturalism is one of Australia's greatest achievements," he said.

"However, this report demonstrates that we can't take our success for granted. We need leadership that brings Australians together, not divides us."

There were "relatively high" levels of negative opinion towards Asian Australians, matching the level of concern from that community.

Nearly 60 per cent of Chinese Australians surveyed said racism during the COVID-19 crisis was a big problem.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi has urged the government to take the report seriously and invest in anti-racism initiatives.

"The Morrison government is not only denying and deflecting the racism people face every day in this country. They're actively fomenting it," she said.

"Consistently strong anti-Muslim attitudes are very disturbing in the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack which was driven by anti-Muslim hatred, committed by an Australian, and directly targeted Muslims.

"We must tackle these real challenges we face."