Community leaders feel it will take a generation to overcome racism in Australia

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Melbourne, Jan 11 (ANI): Community leaders who represent ethnic groups in Victoria agree that it will take at least a generation to pass before they are accepted and Australians can overcome fear of foreigners, which is primarily behind racial abuse against them.

Melbourne's new migrants are from India and African and Arabic countries, and Xenophobia - fear of foreigners - is primarily driving racial abuse against them.

The problem is not new to Australia and in the 1960s and '70s southern Europeans copped the brunt of ugly racial attacks.

Australian National University associate professor of politics Rick Kuhn said some of the forces driving racism against new migrant groups are different from those faced by new migrants in the mid-1900s, The Herald Sun reports.

"Even though only a small minority of migrants come to Australia through that avenue, it wrongly gives some Australians reason to believe that they are people to be feared. It encourages xenophobia," Kuhn said.

He said post-war migrants had the advantage in the battle against racism because they were part of a government program to bring them to Australia.

Berhan Ahmed, African Think Tank chairman, said: "Yes. Anyone who says there is no racism in Melbourne needs to spend time with a different coloured skin. We live with racism every day in different forms. Africans and Indians feel it particularly because we are able to be physically identified."

Gautam Gupta, Federation of Indian Students Association, said: "Yes. Racism exists in Melbourne as it does in every state and in every country around the world. The difference is that nobody around the world denies that, except those in Australia."

Dr Paolo Baracchi, Italian Historical Society manager, said: "I would say that it is not. People from all over the world are welcome and well accepted in a city that is a model of multiculturalism worldwide. Of course racists exist in Melbourne - they constitute a socially, morally and culturally challenged minority. I would put it this way: it is they who are not welcome here."

Linda Paric, Australia Croatia Community Services committee member, said: "Undoubtedly, yes, racism exists in Melbourne. The reality is that there is always racism against the newest arrivals. Partly people feel threatened because of basic ignorance and fear of the unknown. Vietnamese and Chinese are now more accepted, and now the new groups of Africans and Indians are now copping it."

Sam Afra, Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria chairman, said: "I don't believe Melbourne is a particularly racist city, generally speaking. It exists in Australian society to a degree."

Leila Alloush, Victorian Arabic Social Services manager, said: "VASS has come across many cases of people experiencing racism and discrimination. Often people from Arabic-speaking backgrounds have been called names such as terrorist and there have been incidences of women having their headscarf pulled from their head." (ANI)

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