African immigrants long for equality in society

Many African immigrants are wary of the Australian media’s coverage, a PhD’s study has found.

While migrants from African countries comprise 6.3% of Australia’s population, there has been scant research into how they believe they are perceived within Australian society.

Flinders University PhD graduate Runyararo ‘Rue’ Chivaura chose to conduct a Humanities and Creative Arts research study which explores the gap between how African immigrants are represented in the media compared with their actual life experiences.

“Through this research, I found that there was resentment among Africans in how they were represented in Australian media,” says Dr Chivaura.

“The participants unanimously agreed that they were not treated the same as their peers in professional, casual or legal capacities.”

Previous research in this field has highlighted the Sudanese population, but Dr Chivaura’s study captures the media-related experiences of a wider collection of African nationalities.

“In delving into the group’s everyday lives, I seek to investigate the roles media and social perceptions play on how the group produces and regulates diasporic identities,” Dr Chivaura says.

“In previous research they are written about, rather than being written for, thus removing them as participants of the discourse.

“Giving African immigrants in Australia an empowered position by speaking directly to them will give the group a chance to say how they think they are positioned in society, what space they are offered, and how this affects their lives.”

Dr Chivaura conducted a 12-month media analysis of how Australian print media articles represented African populations. She also surveyed a range of African immigrant, including interviews with 10 participants about their lives in Australia.

“This study showed that the participants were a contemporary, dynamic and intelligent group,” she says.

“They felt they had the right to be perceived as any other ethnic group, without their skin colour dictating how much they were valued in society.”

Dr Chivaura is conducting a series of lectures on her study while completing a book with her PhD supervisors, Dean of Graduate Research at Flinders Professor Tara Brabazon and Professor of Cultural Studies Professor Steve Redhead.

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