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Adelaide’s black African migrants victims of recruiter racism

I laughed bitterly when I read this ABC story about recruiter race prejudice in Adelaide as I see it every week.

According to an UniSA study, black Africans are less likely to get hired unless they have white referees. Someone tell me this isn’t South Africa in the 1960s.

One man, a refugee from Tanzania with a degree in social work and a Masters degree in Project Management, says he’s can’t remember how many jobs he’s applied for, only to get knocked back because he was black.

And the SA Government wants migrants to move here?

In living memory Catholics had trouble getting hired in Adelaide. Vietnamese people were called Chinese or Korean and vice a versa.

Ask any male Indian and Chinese student how easy it is getting a career-based job in Adelaide, which they trained locally for.

Another black African woman who went to school in Adelaide and studied at Flinders University, says she has been knocked back time and time again.

“I was exposed to microaggressions, gaslighting and subtle racism,” she said.

As an experiment, she resorted to applying for five jobs using a “westernised name”, and then compared the results to five cases where she used her own name.

“‘Vanessa Wood’ got three phone calls but when I used my African name, I didn’t get any calls,” she said.

“When I finally rolled up to a job interview, the receptionist was really shocked to see I’m a visibly African woman,” she said.

“She said to me, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were black’.”

Rather than being asked about her skills, qualifications and experiences, she was asked how long she had been in Australia.

There are plenty of tricks resume writers use to circumvent being knocked out of selection but the candidate can’t help presenting as black.

Co-author Melanie Baak, a social researcher focusing on migrants and refugees, said the study was compiled with the help of African focus groups in 2019.

“People spoke about getting behind-the-scenes roles but not necessarily professional roles that reflected their qualifications,” Dr Baak said.

She said many had experienced “everyday racism” that extended into their time spent job-seeking.

“Our participants spoke about having to need to know the right white people,” she said.

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