Did you know that around one in five Australians say they have experienced race-hate talk, such as verbal abuse, racial slurs or name calling?
And more than one in twenty Australians say they have been physically attacked because of their race? Racist behavior can be directed against, and emanate from, members of any cultural group.
However, some people in Australia are more vulnerable to racism and discrimination, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
A survey by Reconciliation Australia revealed that 70% of the general community acknowledge that Australians hold high or very high levels of prejudice towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Racism can be very blatant or quite subtle and can take the form of a comment, joke, physical violence or through institutional policies or practices that disadvantage or exclude certain groups.
Research shows that racism has a detrimental effect on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who already suffer from higher levels of chronic disease than non-Indigenous Australians and tend to have poorer health outcomes.
The RACGP is a signatory to the Racism. It stops with me campaign and calls upon all GPs to take the following steps:
- Consider whether your practice is culturally safe and welcoming to people of all nationalities and whether any improvements could be made. Perhaps your practice could celebrate National Reconciliation Week? Visit: Reconciliation Australia website
- Undertake the free cultural awareness training module through GPLearning and encourage all staff in your practice to do the same. For more information, visit: GPlearning
- Don’t be a bystander if something occurs. You can say something, offer support to the victim, or report it to a higher authority. For more tips, visit: It stops with me
- Perpetuating negative stereotypes can be very damaging – challenge the assumptions of your colleagues and staff. Visit: Reconciliation Australia website
- Ensure that your practice is asking all patients whether they identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. This can ensure that preventive health assessments are carried out and that patients and you as a GP have access to the benefits of the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive. For further information, look at: Your guide to Medicare for indigenous health services
- Don’t make any assumptions about the patients who may be visiting your practice. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in all capital cities across Australia, as well as in regional and remote areas. For further information, visit: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Please contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on 1800 000 251 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information or assistance.
Read the position statement which focuses on racism experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait patients and members of the primary healthcare workforce.