Minority Vs. Majority

The notion that Australia is a multicultural nation could be seen as false with events such as the Cronulla Riots in 2005 and Andrew Bolts column’s for the Herald Sun in April 2009. Controversial instances such as this could allow the nation to be perceived as ethnocentric.

Cronulla riots:

On December 11, 2005 Australians targeted men with ‘middle eastern’ appearances on Cronulla Beach. The media coverage of this ‘race riot’ went beyond news reporting, and ventured into ‘opinions from the community and political leaders.’ [1]

Cronulla riots
Cronulla riots

Different perspectives were shared by Australians, with many locals feeling it was ‘a matter of time’ and a sign of ‘pride and respect,’ while others felt ‘shame and fear’ [2] towards the riots. What followed was an attempt to repair the damage that had been done to not only the victims, but Cronulla locals, and the nation as a whole. Many Australians were ashamed with how they were portrayed to different nationalities around the world. Marginson suggests, ‘We need to give them dignity as persons with equal standing and rights with ourselves,’ [3]  a majority of Australians believed this and it seems the minority of Australians involved in the race fueled controversy aren’t accustomed to a multicultural landscape.

Bolts 2009 column:

On the 15th, 16th, and 21st of April 2009 numerous articles were published by Andrew Bolt for the Herald Sun, targeting ‘white’ Aboriginal people. Titles of the articles ranged from, ‘Its so hip to be black,’ ‘White is the new black’ and ‘White fellas in the black’ [4] which targeted ‘fair-skinned’  Aboriginal’s. It wasn’t acknowledged until Pat Eatock brought forth the matter to the federal court in 2011. A section of the Court summary states, ‘Broadly speaking, the nature of her complaint is that the articles conveyed offensive messages about fair-skinned Aboriginal people, by saying that they were not genuinely Aboriginal and were pretending to be Aboriginal so they could access benefits that are available to Aboriginal people. Ms. Eatock wants the law to address this conduct.’ [5]

Ms. Eatock- 'Fair-skinned aboriginal
Ms. Eatock- ‘Fair-skinned aboriginal

The Australian publisher and author participated in what Pat Eatock believes ‘unlawful conduct’ towards fair-skinned aboriginals, stating it publicly humiliated, insulted, offended and intimidated them as a minority. After Eatock along with eight other Aboriginal leaders sued Bolt under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl suggested through research that, ‘Australians can appear ambivalent, distant and disinterested in international students and foreigners in general,’ [6] this statement supports the idea that, as ‘Australians’ we often don’t want to engage with foreigners due to language barriers, yet we can sit and judge different races and religions such as in Bolts column 2009.

A majority of people can be judged by the actions of a minority inside the larger group. This can create an ill perceived notion of what a culture actually is due to the actions of small groups of people. Australia in large part isn’t an Ethnocentric nation, but that doesn’t mean individuals and small groups aren’t within the nation.

[1] SBS. 2010. Cronulla Riots- The day that shocked the nation. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/cronullariots/. [Accessed 02 September 15].

[2] Case Study 4. 2010. The Cronulla riots – the sequence of events. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.reportingdiversity.org.au/cs_four.pdf. [Accessed 02 September 15].

[3] Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, available online at http://focusonteaching.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@cedir/documents

[4] Herald Sun. 2009. Column- White is the new black. [ONLINE] Available at: http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_white_is_the_new_black/. [Accessed 02 September 15].

[5] Federal Court of Australia. 2011. tock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103 (28 September 2011). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2011/1103.html. [Accessed 02 September 15].

[6] Kell, P and Vogl, G (2007) ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’,  Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006.

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