Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, used a speech at ANU’s National Security College last night, Tuesday 16 June, to dismiss warnings from the Chinese government that tourists and students should reconsider coming to Australia because of racism.
Ms Payne said the warning was “disinformation” and Australia would continue to welcome students and visitors from all over the world, regardless of race, gender or nationality.
She said Australian police played their role in combating racist incidents and political leadership consistently used their platform to call out racist behaviour.
“Our law enforcement officers can, will, and do respond to individual crimes and we will continue to move beyond this pandemic true to our status as the world’s most successful multicultural society,” she said.
“The Prime Minister and the government have repeatedly called out racist behaviour.
“He has gone to considerable lengths to remind our nation that Chinese-Australians returning from China in the thousands in the early period of COVID-19 provided this country with one of the greatest defences against the spread of the virus, and he has thanked them for that commitment.”
Per Capita think tank research fellow, Osmond Chui, conducted a confidential online survey for those who had experienced incidents of racism during coronavirus.
Mr Chui said his work was inspired by Asian-American groups who had set up a survey to let people tell their stories and help track incidents of racism.
“There was concern of limited data on the increase of racist incidents towards people of Asian heritage due to COVID-19 in Australia,” he said.
As of May 2020, more than 300 people responded to the survey with 81% of the respondents reporting a belief their racist attack was the result of COVID-19.
Mr Chui said Australia remains a relatively safe place for international students, but his survey revealed an increase in anti-Asian racist incidents.
“It takes a variety of forms not simply violent physical assaults,” he said.
“It includes racist abuse and comments, physical intimidation and being spat on by strangers in public places.
“The increase in anti-Asian racism has been a global phenomenon and Australia is no exception to this trend.”
Australian National University Chancellor Julie Bishop said the University had worked hard to keep all international students engaged with their studies during this global pandemic and the vast majority of affected students have remained enrolled at ANU.
“Canberra is one of the safest cities in a country widely regarded as one of the safest in the world,” Ms Bishop said.
“We look forward to continuing to welcome students from all over the world to ANU, to our community, to our campus and to our capital city.”