Classism in Australia is 'real'. Meet the crusaders calling it out This is just a Left-wing whine from the ABC. It makes its case entirely by argument from example. You can prove just about anything that way
Let me turn the tables by using a different example, my own. My father was a lumberjack, just about the humblest occupation known. And he was a punchy redhead, well within the sterotype. So my schooling was terminated after junior school and I received no support from my parents from that time on.
So was I thereby condemned to a humble life of no distinction? Hardly. I earned a doctorate, achieved academic distinction and became a millionaire
It's possible that I was from time to time a target of class prejudice but I was never aware of it. I was always aware of being treated as an individual, often with respect
So who is typical? Myself or the whiners rounded up by the ABC? There is no way of telling. The entire article is a castle built on sand with no hint of real scholarship. I would happily tell them about sample surveys and pychometrics if they cared to listen
When Amanda Rose stepped up on stage to speak at a business conference six years ago, she didn't get the introduction she was expecting.
The MC described her to the crowd as being "from Parramatta — but that's OK because ... she's gorgeous. She's smart and she is dating a politician".
She felt humiliated. And it wasn't the first time.
"I've dealt with the stigma my whole life and, as a businesswoman, it's still there," she tells ABC RN's This Working Life.
At the same event, she was instructed by organisers not to "admit" to her Western Sydney roots.
Her experience defies a belief held by many Australians.
About 57 per cent of Australians who participated in the Australia Talks National Survey 2021 believe the perseverance and diligence of hard work pays off regardless of the circumstances they've been born into.
However, the proportion of people who believe hard work makes all the difference has fallen since 2019, when it was 69 per cent.
Despite the shift, it seems the old adage about all Australians being given a "fair go" is still deeply entrenched in the Australian psyche.
So does going to the right school really matter, do employers really care what suburb you're from and, if there are different social classes, is it possible to move between them? We asked those that have experienced classism.
Hard work doesn't always pay off
"Here's a Blacktown boy turned good."
"Haven't you done well for yourself?"
Rose, founder of business and women's network Western Sydney Women, says phrases like these are just some of the ways people flag another's social class.
They reflect an attitude she has found to be rife in her work environments.
Rose says she was "blocked so much" in the business world because of her connection to Western Sydney that she decided: "Screw this, I'll start my own network".
She's cautious about overcoming the challenges. "[The] one thing I believe we can't change is classism. We can change everything else," she says.
Class plays a huge role at work
Diversity Council of Australia chief executive Lisa Annese agrees class barriers are "real" and argues they are missing from the national conversation about inclusion.
Too bogan, too privileged?
A stand alone run down house against a bush backdrop
Have you ever been judged for where you live? Postcode stigma is rife in Australia — and the people who live in affluent areas aren't immune.
"We know that if you went to a certain school, if you went to the right universities, you have the right networks, then you're much more likely to be successful in Australian business," she says.
She says social class is defined by a number of factors including a family's wealth, a person's education, personal and professional networks, job and income.
While Australians often "deny that class even exists", it has the greatest impact on opportunities and inclusion in workplaces, Annese says.
Fighting and working harder
Author and journalist Rick Morton knows what it's like to feel different from others because of class.
Morton grew up in poverty in country Queensland, and says it became apparent early in his career he'd "have to fight harder" and "work harder than everyone else just to be in the same position".
"We all want everyone to have a fair go to be treated equally but it's not the case in practice," says Morton, who has written about his experience in the memoir, One Hundred Years of Dirt.
When he moved to the Gold Coast at 18 on a university scholarship tied to a newspaper cadetship, he says he was "unequipped" for the change.
"I had no idea, not just no money but no idea about how money functioned," Morton says.
"I had no cultural capital. I didn't know how to have conversations with people who were from ... the 'right' schools. I didn't grow up with the 'right' books in my house."
He remembers struggling to pay for rent, food and bus fares while being unable to manage the workload of university and work.
Years later, while working for a major newspaper, he began writing about people living in poverty and realised most of his work colleagues looked at those issues from positions of privilege.
"What I was trying to do was knit together some kind of understanding for people who have never lived any of the things I tried to convince them of and so it was really difficult."
In editorial meetings while discussing the federal government's plans to charge patients a $7 GP co-payment, editors dismissed how much the charge would mean to some people.
"I remember thinking $7 is literally the difference between whether [my mum] can eat or not in any given week," Morton says.
Both Morton and Rose believe speaking up is a powerful tool for change.
Morton says in the past he's been "terrified" to voice concerns or ideas but he now realises the people around him wouldn't have minded a debate.
Rose suggests a different approach to shifting stigma around class.
"Do not expect people to accept you," she says.
"The most powerful thing you can do is not care about what people think but start to speak up about who you are, where you're from and be proud of it."
************************************ Senate deal signals path to deal on new nuclear waste site
Decades of wrangling over laws to store Australia’s nuclear waste have come to an end, clearing the way for a remote site to replace city facilities that are running out of capacity as nuclear medicine becomes more common.
The federal government backed down on a key feature of the bill to gain Labor’s support in the upper house on Monday, removing a provision that named Kimba in South Australia as the new storage location.
The outcome is crucial to the long federal dispute over a new storage facility to take waste that is currently sent to Lucas Heights in the southern suburbs of Sydney, the location of Australia’s only nuclear reactor.
The amended bill leaves it to the federal minister to choose the location in a compromise agreed to by Resources Minister Keith Pitt and Labor counterpart Madeleine King.
But the changes also set up a judicial review of the location if there is a dispute over the minister’s choice, setting up an avenue for opponents of the Kimba site to challenge the decision in the courts.
Mr Pitt has warned capacity will run out at Lucas Heights by 2030 as more Australians rely on nuclear medicine to treat cancer and other illnesses, creating a crisis if Parliament cannot agree on a new location.
The Labor caucus agreed last week to leave the negotiations on the bill to Ms King and the party’s federal leadership team, with social services spokeswoman Linda Burney among those who backed the move.
The Senate agreement ends four decades of disagreement on nuclear storage but does not lock-in Kimba as the new site, even though 62 per cent of the local community voted in favour of the proposal in a community ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission last year.
Kimba mayor Dean Johnson has met Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to convey the community’s support for the facility, which would be built at Napandee, a farm on the Eyre Peninsula.
The bill passed the Senate late on Monday by 43 to 13 votes with majority support from the Coalition and Labor.
************************************* Great Barrier Reef operators slam UN recommendation to list reef as 'in danger'
Reef tourism operators say they are bewildered by a draft recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger", saying the world's largest living organism is "healthy" and "beautiful".
The World Heritage Committee, which sits under UNESCO, has proposed moving the reef to the list because of the impact of climate change, and will consider the decision at a meeting in China, which is the chair, next month.
"Has anyone from UNESCO prior to COVID actually flown out here, gone to areas in the Great Barrier Reef and had a snorkel?
"Did they wake up, have a coffee and think: Here's a great idea, let's label the Great Barrier Reef as 'in danger'?
"Yes the reef has had its challenges with crown-of-thorns starfish and cyclones but the reef is healthy and rebuilds itself."
The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, a non-profit group that represents reef tourism operators, said it was also surprised about the recommendation to list the reef as "in danger".
"Yes, the reef has got its challenges and the tourism industry does not deny that and that's why we work so hard to operate at high environmental standards and play a role in monitoring the health of the reef and feeding that information back," Mr Phillips said.
"The reef is a big, beautiful diverse place and it is certainly not a lost cause.
"These sorts of listings are demoralising and it also has an impact on tourism, people don't want to go out and see something that they think is dead."
Mr Garden said any recommendation to list the reef as in danger would have a negative impact on tourism.
"It's not just Cairns or the Great Barrier Reef that it will have an impact on, it's Australian tourism as well," Mr Garden said.
"People will say, hang on, the reef is dying or dead so we won't worry about going to Australia."