Mum’s heartbreak at playground abuse

An Australian mum has recalled how her “heart broke” when her toddler was called a racial slur while visiting a local playground, as a new report reveals the racist horrors in everyday life. 
An Australian mum has recalled how her “heart broke” when her toddler was called a racial slur while visiting a local playground, as a new report reveals the racist horrors in everyday life.

Indigenous Australians including children are subjected to racist abuse in almost all aspects of society and in every suburb across the country, according to a new report.

Hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people along with their friends and families have taken part in the In Every Corner of Every Suburb report from Call It out and the University of Technology Sydney’s Jumbunna Institute, detailing instances of racism and hate they’ve experienced as they go about their business.

Many of the incidents detailed in the report are against children, with the annual report covering approximately 500 registrations of racist abuse recorded in the 12-months leading up to March 2023.

Even the playground isn’t safe, with one mother revealing how she witnessed a racial slur being used against her son at a playground, with the incident reminding her of how she was treated as a child.

“It broke my heart. My little boy was only 2 years old being called an a*o. He didn’t even understand he was being called this sick name,” she said.

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Parents taking part in the self-reported register have detailed horror stories of racist abuse peddled against them and their children. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

“I used to get called a*o in primary school and I remember a girl who was my friend tell me her mum said I was an a*o and to stay away from me. From then on, I used to hold my lips tight, so they looked smaller.”

Another woman detailed how she, her young son and her elderly mother were targeted on a street in Sydney’s west.

“My son was 2-3 years of age, I was walking on the main street of Campbelltown with my mother, who is only 5ft, 2 inches tall. Two people were walking towards us, a man and a woman. The man dropped his shoulder and deliberately barged my mother, knocking her to the ground,” she wrote.

“I tried to stand up for my mother, the man became extremely verbally abusive, calling me every name under the sun, every insult starting with black. He grabbed me by the shirt, punched me in the chest, my mother was screaming on the ground.”

To make matters worse, she said she was blamed by bystanders for the incident.

“Other people started saying ‘Call the police, that black woman is causing trouble.’ My mother cried and said, ‘We need to get out of here, the police are going to arrest you’,” she said.

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The report did not cover the majority of campaigning for the Voice To Parliament, which had caused a “significant rise” in racism against Indigenous Australians. The authors said they will revisit this in future reports. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

While the report found incidents “in every corner of every suburb of this country” roughly one in five occurred in the workplace (17 per cent), followed by commercial places such as a supermarket (16 per cent) and online (14 per cent).

“An ex-co-worker called me a black c*** after going to the workplace to collect my artwork and materials I had purchased to teach our disability participants cultural art activities for NAIDOC,” one woman wrote about her experience.

“I had my materials thrown at me and in the bin and was told to get my black c*** away before I got my head caved in.”

Cruelty took up the bulk of reports compared to institutional or casual racism, with 35 per cent of reports compromising physical and verbal abuse, hate speech, bullying, threats, intimidation and damage to property.

The inaugural report will be brought out each by the Jumbunna Institute to provide a snapshot of the experiences of First Nations people.

“Reports of incidents to police or complaints bodies are often restricted or limited to more overt acts of racism, and responses available through antidiscrimination and other laws and complaints mechanisms can be inaccessible or otherwise ineffective,” the report reads.

“In contrast, Call It Out is an ongoing, respondent generated initiative with a national focus.”