9.5 Racism and the Maltese Migrant

The majority of Australians today have more than one ethnic lineage (Price 1988). This however is no guarantee that racism is or will everbe eradicated.

It has not been the intention of this work to discuss the reaction of the native population to the migrant influx except in a most perfunctory manner. Likewise it is not my intention to go into details into the question of whether the typical "Australian" is racist or otherwise.

However it might be pertinent to ask whether racism in Australia has affected the Maltese migrant in any fundamental way. There is no doubt that historically, in the early days of migration, blatant racism was rampant and the Maltese migrant was obviously the target of racist disparaging remarks. In spite of this, migrants kept coming. It is enough to listen to the average migrant who came to Australia in the 1950's to appreciate the degree of intolerance and abuse to which the average Maltese migrant was subjected. Being a British subject was no more an insurance against such treatment than it is for the average Jamaican in Britain today. Maltese took it straight on their chin and kept on going.

Calling people names could however have had a more lasting effect on the educational achievement of our youth. As Sant-Cassia mentions, "wog-taunting" is one of the major reasons for students, and particularly girls, wanting to leave school early.

As at 1989, the average European migrant has learned to live with a certain degree of racism and name calling. They even make fun of it as in the successful play "Wogs Out Of Work". There are moreover extensive legislature to prohibit such behaviour (eg the Racial Discrimination Act of NSW, 1989). However, no number of Acts of Parliament can prevent the often subtle racist behaviour that is rife in our community.

It is in the nature of racist behaviour to target the weakest and newest members of the community. With the abolition of the White Australia Policy in the 1970s and an increased number of Asian migrants and refugees, the racist phlegm seems to be vented more towards these than towards the older-established members of the migrant community.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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