Canberra, June 15 (IANS) Indigenous Australians are increasingly quitting their jobs as public servants on the back of everyday racism, a lack of cultural sensitivity and internal politics, researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) said on Wednesday.
The study, undertaken by ANU research fellows Nicholas Biddle and Julie Lahn, took into account interviews with 34 former public servants of an Indigenous background, reports Xinhua news agency.
They found it was easier for them to ignore racism than risk a confrontation that could jeopardize their future careers – something which ultimately left many to choose to quit their jobs.
Many said they feared they would be treated similarly to famous Indigenous Australian rules football star Adam Goodes, who was berated by fans and was routinely booed at matches after calling at a racist 13-year-old fan at a match in 2013.
Many respondents said that casual racism also contributed to their decision to quit the public service.
“You can either make a joke of it or you can get really upset and you then get labelled angry and get moved on,” one respondent told ANU, “And you end up with Adam Goodes.
“If an Indigenous person takes offence, then the perception is that person is being a little sooky.”
Another case study reported “blatant racist remarks” were often made by those within public service who were themselves working on Indigenous policy.
“You are forced to operate in a space which doesn’t value you at all,” that respondent said.
More than 300 Indigenous public servants left the workforce in 2012-13 with a separation rate of 9.9 per cent compared to 6.3 per cent overall, and the study called for a re-evaluation of how workplace policy involving Indigenous Australians is set out.
“Some uncomfortable discussions around racism and reframing of Indigenous-specific policy will need to be had,” the study said.