First Nations people have seen increased levels of harassment and discrimination in the workplace this year, according to new research from Diversity Council Australia.
Early data from DCA’s upcoming 2023 Inclusion@Work Index shows that exclusion of Indigenous Australians in the workplace has gotten worse, with 59% of Aboriginal and/or Torre Strait Islander workers experiencing discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace in 2023, a 9% increase since our last Inclusion@Work Index in 2021.
By comparison, non-Indigenous respondents reported a small drop in levels of discrimination and harassment, with 22% reporting this type of exclusion in 2023 compared with 23% in 2021.
Similar trends appeared in everyday exclusion experiences, with 50% of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander workers reporting sometimes, often or always being ignored by people at work or being treated as if they didn’t exist (compared to 24% of non-Indigenous workers) and 49% reported sometimes, often or always being left out of a work social gathering (compared to 23% of non-Indigenous workers).
51% reported sometimes, often or always having people make incorrect assumptions about their abilities because of their age, culture/ethnicity, disability, gender, Indigenous background, or sexual orientation (compared to 28% of non-Indigenous workers).
Nareen Young, Associate Dean, Indigenous Leadership and Engagment, UTS Business School and Professor of Indigenous Policy (Indigenous Workforce Diversity) at UTS’ Jumbunna Institute, who was CEO of DCA between 2007 and 2014, says these discriminatory practices are unlawful and add to the harmful experiences Indigenous Australians already face in the lead-up to the Voice to Parliament referendum.
“In 2023, all the behaviours shared above are simply unlawful, pursuant to the provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,” Professor Young said.
“Now, not only are First Nations employees facing racism, increased cultural load and challenging workplace experiences, we must be deeply re-traumatised simply for naming the workplace right to be safe.
“While the Voice seeks to provide further opportunities for First Nations communities to share their experiences within governance systems, organisations and society at large have taken this opportunity to add an increased cultural load on Indigenous peoples, employees, friends and family members.
“It appears through the racist social media campaigns on our devices during the day, the challenges to our identity as Indigenous peoples on the news at night and it suffocates us in our dreams.
“While we examine the disturbing horror of what has become the daily situation for Indigenous people in Australia’s workplaces, we hope that future campaigns offer the ability to reflect on our workplaces deeply, prioritise Indigenous voices and experiences and stop racism at work.”
UTS is providing information to help organisations support First Nations staff this year by hosting and Indigenous-led webinar on 20 July entitled ‘The constant questions – comfort and safety for your First Nations employees in 2023’. Find out more here.
- Diversity Council Australia’s Inclusion@Work Index findings come from a nationally representative sample of 3000 respondents, all working in Australia. The 2023 data included above comes from our upcoming Inclusion@Work Index which is yet to be released. All other research included above comes from DCA’s 2021-2022 Inclusion@Work index which can be found here. The upcoming report will be DCA’s fourth Inclusion@Work Index, which started in 2017 and provides national benchmarks for Australian workplaces on diversity and inclusion.
- Quotes from Nareen Young originally appeared in an opinion piece featured on DCA’s website. You can read Professor Young’s full article here.
- In 2021, 50% of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander respondents reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment at work.
- In 2023, it has increased to almost 6 in 10, with 59% reporting experiencing discrimination and/or harassment at work.
Non-Indigenous respondents reported a small drop in experiences of discrimination and harassment:
- In 2021, 23% of non-Indigenous respondents reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment at work.
- In 2023, it dropped to 22%.
Similar trends appeared in the everyday exclusion experiences.
- 50% of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander workers reported sometimes, often or always being ignored by people at work or being treated as if they didn’t exist (compared to 24% of non-Indigenous workers)
- 49% reported sometimes, often, or always being left out of a work social gathering (compared to 23% of non-Indigenous workers)
- 51% reported sometimes, often, or always having people make incorrect assumptions about their abilities because of their age, culture/ethnicity, disability, gender, Indigenous background, or sexual orientation (compared to 28% of non-Indigenous workers).
Media Contact: Ali Coulton, 0430 242 682 | firstname.lastname@example.org.