Although several national and international reports have shown a link between racism and public health, there was little research on this topic in Australia. In response to this paucity of research, the ‘Racism and Indigenous Health’ symposium was held at The University of Melbourne in 2007. A subsequent report was published in 2008 (Paradis et al) on the impact of racism on indigenous health by the cooperative research center for aboriginal health.
The findings highlighted the need to explore the benefits of racial socialisation (i.e. learning about the nature and ubiquity of racism in society) and to find effective ways to combat interpersonal racism against Indigenous peoples. Improvements in health system performance were supported as an approach to addressing systemic racism in health care, and the symposium emphasised the need to systematically estimate the cost of racism to society in Australia in understanding of the ways in which societal systems produce advantage and positive health outcomes. The paper was intended as an impetus to policy decision makers at the national regional and local levels to engage in combatting racism against indigenous peoples.
Despite the addressing of these issues in 2007, racism is still a key issue effecting indigenous well being. NATSIS survey data revealed more than one-quarter (27%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced discrimination in the last 12 months. A recent survey by charity Beyond Blue found discriminatory attitudes to still be alarmingly high among those interviewed as can be seen in the following charts:
In response to the survey results bluefin launched an anti-discrimination campaign
However after launching the campaign they did further research to gain feed back,
The evaluation found that up to 21 per cent of respondents who had seen the scenarios depicting subtle discrimination in the video still thought the behavior they depicted was acceptable, while 70 per cent agreed that “almost everyone has been a racist at some point in their lives”. This demonstrates the way in which racial discrimination is deeply ingrained within parts of Australian society and that the solution goes beyond raising awareness to actually addressing the structural violence that fuels these attitudes.