Racism part of migrant poverty: ACOSS

Dr Cassandra Goldie says ACOSS is concerned about some politicians creating a culture of racism.
Dr Cassandra Goldie says ACOSS is concerned about some politicians creating a culture of racism.

Discrimination is contributing to the poverty being experienced by some Australians who were born elsewhere, according to a social services boss.

New research has found Australians born in countries where English is not the first language are at a higher risk of living in poverty.

About 17 per cent of such Australians are living below the poverty line, compared to 13.2 per cent of the overall population, the report from the Australian Council of Social Service and University of NSW shows.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie has told the National Press Club in Canberra that is partly to be expected.

"Some of that you may expect, because you know that you will have to improve some of your English ability in order to apply for certain kinds of jobs," she said on Tuesday.

But Dr Goldie is confident racism is also contributing to the trend.

"There's no question, when you talk to people directly affected by this experience, that overwhelmingly, the sense is that it's about direct or indirect discrimination, that makes it harder for people to get work because of a racist culture," she said.

Dr Goldie said ACOSS is "deeply concerned" about some politicians and media figures creating a culture that says it's "OK to be racist".

"I think as an Australian community, we have to - every single time there is a moment to say it - say racism stops with us."

The new poverty report, released on Tuesday, shows more than three million Australians are living in poverty, including 739,000 children.

That equates to about one-in-eight adults and one-in-six children.

Australian Associated Press