Australia is by most measures one of the worlds most successful
multicultural societies, but a controversial cartoon of Serena
Williams has rekindled accusations it is also inveterately
Australia should be a poster-child for diversity: One-in-two
Australians has a parent born abroad. The economy has been growing
for 27 straight years. Crime is barely a worry. Melbourne and
Sydney dominate rankings of the best places in the world to
Visit any medium-size human habitation on the mind-bendingly
large continent and its obvious that Australia is the proverbial
melting pot Kiwis, Chinese, Irish, Filipinos, Brits, Vietnamese,
Italians, Indians, Greeks and Lebanese at every turn.
AFP | Photo illustration shows the front
page of the Herald Sun newspaper, featuring a cartoon of US tennis
player Serena Williams (lower R)
But this racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity contrasts
sharply with a lingering image of Australia as an angry white
country stuck in the past.
It was an impression underscored by foreign outrage about an
Australian cartoonists depiction of a fat-lipped and masculine
Serena Williams, and the collective shrug it prompted Down
After the drawing was published, a CNN opinion piece described
Australia as the nicest racist country you will ever see and the
New York Times thundered that Australia has never fully confronted
its own history of racism.
Many Australians admit there is a problem.
The legacy of European settlers terrorising Aboriginal
communities looms large, and inequality between the two groups
Racial epithets are still tossed around in a way that makes
visitors jaws drop. A White Australia immigration policy, only
fully dismantled in the 1970s, and more recently off-shore migrant
detention centres have also done much to frame the modern image of
But many Australians also believe the problem can be
There is an element in Australian society that is racist, said
John Blaxland, a professor of International Security at the
Australian National University. But every country has them. Name a
country that doesnt.
He insists the reality of modern Australia is a vibrant,
booming, multicultural society that integ...