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Multicultural Youth are unwanted guests in their own country (update)

In a recent national study of 823 secondary school students, 80% of non-Anglo students reported being subjected to racism (Mansouri et al. (2009) “The Impact of Racism Upon the Health and Wellbeing of Young Australians,” Foundation for Young Australians, Melbourne, p 4)

Research shows that discrimination is linked to health and well being issues amongst multicultural youth. A sense of belonging is vital to ensuring citizenship and participation. Unfortunately ‘belonging’ is not their daily lived experience.

The 2009 study called “The Impact of Racism upon the Health and Well being of Young Australians” by Prof Fethi Mansouri (Project Leader), Dr. Louise Jenkins, Dr. Les Morgan and Ms Mona Taouk, was commissioned by the Foundation for Young Australians in partnership with the Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. 18 Australian schools participated in the study with a total of 823 students.

The summary report indicates that 70.1% of the students had experienced some form of racism and most chose not to report this. It also shows a correlation between experience of racism and lower health scores particularly for senior school students and for girls. The full report can be accessed at http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/ccg/.

This is a significant study on the relationship between discrimination and health.

The Youth Committee of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA, the peak body for all migrant communities) is well aware of these issues based on national feedback from their constituents. Multicultural youth want to be “Australian” but an “Australian” no longer defined by the ‘white, blonde haired, blue eyed’ stereotype.

Tina Hosseini, Chair of FECCA Youth Committee, says, “There are young people who were born or raised in Australia who cannot identify themselves as “Australian”. This is a problem that we are guests in our own home. We have to be able to be “Australian” regardless of our ethnicity.”

FECCA’s Youth Forum “Who do You Think You Are?” on 13 October at the Multicultural Hub in Melbourne will invite young Australians to speak out about these and other issues affecting young people. The forum is free and will be interactive and fun with comedy and a Zumba workshop included. For more information, please go to www.fecca.org.au or call Tina on 0421120246.

For more information about “The Impact of Racism upon the Health and Well being of Young Australians” please contact Prof. Mansouri Tel: 03 9244 3914/email: fethi@deakin.edu.au.

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