Melbourne-based Louisa Wang is routinely asked about her ethnicity. When she was working as a bartender, it felt like a fun game for her whenever customers would try to guess her background, several asked if she was French or Spanish.
Louisa exclusively speaks English and was born in Australia. She was included in the census as one of 17 million people who were born in Australia according to SBS News. Her parents were also born in Australia. But she isn’t French or Spanish like other people guessed. She is, however, a sixth-generation Chinese.
Families from different ethnic backgrounds are becoming considerably more common in Australia, and it can be challenging to accurately capture its complexity.
Last year, 43% of non-white, non-Christian, non-English-speaking Australians rated workplace racism as prevalent or very common, according to Diversity Council Australia.
Diversity Council Australia critical race expert Dr. Virginia Mapedzahama thinks census surveys in other countries, such as the US, could reveal how race influences individuals and if they are discriminated against. She argues race may affect pay, mental health, and job well-being.
Australian National University demographer Dr. Liz Allen said various data may be utilized for different objectives, such as racial data to understand prejudice and self-identity data to understand Australia as a nation.
Dr. Allen believes seeing oneself in statistics can empower and humanize individuals, She says the needs of children, no matter their country of birth, religion, or cultural and ethnic identity, matter “because it matters to the very future of Australia”.