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Political correctness in Australia

By Satminder Saini - posted Wednesday, 27 June 2012

What exactly is political correctness? Is it just a measure of how society perceives certain issues or are people just too sensitive? Or are we just worried about accusations of racism and discrimination, and does this in turn deny us free speech among society?

Being a childcare worker and doing my Diploma in Children's Services has made me realise just how many restrictions we are given to do our job. For example, you aren't allowed to say 'boy' or 'girl', as it stereotypes a child. But how is it stereotypical? One is a boy and one is a girl. In other cases, there can be transgendered children, but that still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. In my work, you will be in trouble if you use such language. By saying 'boy' and 'girl', we are excluding these children from each other and we need to use 'inclusive language' in order for people to feel included.

Another restriction given to us was when I did my Work Placement. The Centre celebrated different multicultural customs, but they weren't allowed to celebrate Australian customs. I get that Australia is a multicultural country, giving other cultures a chance to thrive here and feel accepted. But how far is too far, when the Government decides to censor what we say and do for fears of offending different people? How far is too far, when non-locals are given more precedence over us locals? I am a born and bred non-religious Australian with an Indian background. Growing up in Australian Culture has made me who I am today, and I am proud of that fact. My parents came to Australia from Singapore 23 years ago, they have no problem with Australian culture and they have adapted to it like any other family without any complaints.


We aren't even allowed to celebrate Christmas at Childcare Centres, as certain religious groups such as Muslims don't celebrate it and therefore don't want their child exposed to the festive event. At my old workplace in a creche, my co-worker told me a story about one Muslim family who attended the service. This woman had one child in the Centre, and found out that the Centre was colouring in pictures of Santa Claus and putting up Christmas Trees and decorations. This infuriated the woman and she went and complained to my co-worker. When my co-worker mentioned that this was what was done every year for the children, the woman went to the Director and put in a formal complaint. She didn't want to leave the Centre and said that she would sue because her religious beliefs weren't being met. In the end, the Director had no choice but to take down all the decorations and trees and stopped the children from doing any sort of Christmas fun in the Centre. Because of these types of complaints, we aren't allowed to say 'Merry Christmas' anymore, it's 'Happy Holidays'. Santa Claus is banned from Centres and school for fears of offending other cultures.

Do you think the woman was right in what she did? Or was it too far and that we are forced to change due to cultural conflictions? How is this fair on us locals? Why do we have to conform ourselves while internationals don't? My perception when moving to another country is to adapt to the culture of the country and to not try and change it in any way. Is Australia just complying with social manners that are vital for the transitioning of a multi-racial society?

Another restriction is the lyrical change of 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'. We aren't allowed to sing the word (although I still sing it to the children) 'black' anymore for it has been deemed 'racist' and therefore got censored. The word 'black' was changed into 'rainbow'. Do you think that change was acceptable? Is it racist?

Are we a country of whiners who complain about change all the time? Or are we simply voicing out our opinion about the changes that are affecting our lifestyle?

Freedom of speech is becoming scarcely obsolete. We have to watch what we say in case it offends somebody, we have to watch what we do in case we offend somebody and we have to watch what we eat in case it offends somebody. Are people just too sensitive? Do people get offended easily? If we say something we get deemed racist and we get lectured on how Australia is a multicultural society and a free county. What is the difference between racism and political correctness?

On the news last year, they mentioned that anybody who puts the Australian flag on their car is racist. Is it racist to have pride in our country?


This topic is one of the most debatable among all subjects. What are your opinions on political correctness?

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About the Author

Mindy Saini is 21 years old and Australian. She has been writing since she was six years old, runs her own blog S.K. Saini and will be publishing her own novel soon.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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