From The Age:
Africans face racism: Tanner
A SENIOR Rudd Government minister has made a powerful attack on racism in Australia, saying it is now directed mainly at people born in Africa — many of whom came here traumatised by torture.
Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said last night that some young Australia-educated African-Australians spent years trying to get jobs in their chosen professions, despite big staff shortages.
Delivering the 2008 Redmond Barry Lecture at the State Library of Victoria, Mr Tanner said many non-African Australians were helping African refugees to settle and find opportunities. Yet big challenges remained.
“African-Australians still endure prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives,” he said.
“I am now encountering African-Australians with high-level qualifications from Australian universities who can’t find jobs … Their degrees are from Melbourne, not Mogadishu, but they’re finding it just as hard to find employment.”
Given Australia’s modern history, it was hardly surprising that most debates about values quickly defaulted to issues of race, Mr Tanner said.
“While the insidious role of racism in our nation’s history can scarcely be denied, it should not be allowed to stand as a defining characteristic of who we are,” he said.
Mr Tanner referred to a media release issued in 2007 by then immigration minister Kevin Andrews, in which he said: “Recent refugee and humanitarian arrivals from the region of Africa are continuing to experience difficulty in successfully settling in Australia, and the result is high levels of community concern.”
The release announced a reduction in the African share of the humanitarian refugee program.
“Andrews sent shock waves through African-Australian communities,” Mr Tanner said.
Those who had fled war and persecution to settle in a new country could feel vulnerable, he said.
“The challenges of settlement and integration are magnified by the sense that many people in their new country don’t welcome them,” he said.