In Australia we pride ourselves as a country that is built on the concept of a ‘fair go’ for all, yet this does not appear to be the case for many minority groups who are continually subjected to anything but a fair go. The concept of a fair go is based loosely around equal opportunity for everyone to achieve there goals and the providing of access to basic needs such as education, healthcare and the right to welfare for those in need. It has long been Australian tradition to support the underdog, yet are we entirely supporting the underdog when the underdog is not your “typical” white Australian? Why do the socially disadvantaged continue to be socially disadvantaged? A survey of Australians conducted by Roy Morgan Research for the Australian Council of Social Sciences (2006) found 91% of respondents thought ‘a fair go for all Australians’ was an important factor when defining Australian values. This paper will seek to discuss the main question of why certain minority groups within our society experience extreme and persistent disadvantage that sets them apart from the rest of our society? (Wise, S. 2011).
First we will seek to establish some of the main causes behind social disadvantage and why it is a problem to our society. Social disadvantage is caused by a number of factors that influence ones life, perhaps the largest of these being ones social class and where an individual is situated within the social class ladder. Weber (1978) would argue that social class has three components class, status & power or to be more easily referred to as power, prestige and property. The amount of power, prestige and property one acquires or looses will place them in a relevant position on the social class ladder. With those at the top the ladder being the least socially disadvantaged given for example the increased quality of life style choice available to them and their increased access to health care. Meanwhile those at the bottom of the ladder who hold much less power, prestige and property, have little amount of life style choices due to a lack of wealth and little access to health care beyond basic medicare. The socially disadvantaged tend to be made up of ethnic and minority groups, single parent families, those with low education, low income and the unemployed. This essay will focus on three of these socially disadvantaged groups with in the Australian community.
The history of social disadvantage among Indigenous Australian has existed since colonisation in the late 1700s. When European settlers first arrived in Australia, they were automatically the superior class or the upper class given the amount of land they owned, the power they held and their respective prestige. This course of colonisation, of Europeans being the dominant class immediately made Indigenous Australian’s disadvantage as they’re were seen to own nothing. Through out the colonisation and federation periods indigenous Australians were given little chances to become more than an under class, which has led to them being severely socially disadvantaged in todays society. Indigenous Australians in todays society are not receiving a fair go due to their history of discrimination, low education levels which generally amounts to low income levels or unemployment, this then can lead on to drug & alcohol problems, which in turn leads to an over representation in the criminal justice system creating a lack of trust between the indigenous community and authorities and leading back to the cycle of continually becoming social disadvantaged. One of the prominent factors in the social disadvantagement of Indigenous Australians is their over representation in the criminal justice system Cuneen (2001) stated “Indigenous peoples continue to be over-policed and are generally treated by police in a racially discriminatory way” this could be interpreted as meaning that what may be right for the...