An Open Letter to '60 Minutes Australia' — Racism in Reporting

The following is an open letter from Iraqi Australian Medical Graduates Forum Association in response to 60 Minutes' promotion of its story on Professor Munjed Al Muderis, Iraqi-born orthopaedic surgeon and refugee living and practising in Australia. Our Association supports Professor Al Muderis and the fair treatment and representation of people of colour in reporting. When the colour of your skin correlates with your well-being and longevity and, specifically in this case, how you'll be represented by media, that is both a human and public health injustice.

An open letter to: Tom Steinfort, "60 Minutes Australia" — Racism in Reporting

Dear Tom,

We respond to your story on Professor Munjed Al Muderis as the Iraqi Australian Medical Graduates Forum Association, an umbrella organisation covering several committees including the Association of Iraqi Academics in Australia & NZ and the Iraqi Australasian Medical Association, and feel more than adequately qualified to make the following statements.

We need to protect our assets

As a migrant country, Australia has always relied on people born elsewhere to provide both unskilled and skilled labour to keep the country operational. Historically, these immigration policies have been widely criticized as racist, yet have evolved over time to become more inclusive. From a human perspective, this is the right thing to do, but given Australia's modern social and economic destiny is linked more to its geographic region than to its link to "old world" colonial connections, this makes economic sense too.

These assertions are supported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020 report outlining the increase from 10% at the end of WWII to 30% in 2019 and the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs 2019 report showing the largest contribution to the 160,323 new permanent migrants were India (21%), China (15%) and UK (9%). And these statistics do not cover first- and second-generation Australians.

What we're trying to say, Tom, is that an increasing percentage of our workforce is comprised of people not born in Australia or have parents and grandparents who weren't. The inference here is that most of these people are also not white.

Why then, was Professor Al Muderis the only person of colour represented in your promos of the segment you have put together on him? Why is your expert, your patient interviewees and, indeed, the entire "60 Minutes" team present on the day all white? Where is the diversity? Where is the perspective brought by people of different races, religions, colour and creed? Where is the balance?

The brain drain is very real in Australia, and this was only intensified as COVID-19 struck and people wanted to move to less restrictive countries from which to work. Why would we not want to protect and nurture the brains we already have here? Why would we not recognise Professor Al Muderis, and others like him, as the asset they are to this country? 

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Source: Iraqi Australian Medical Graduates Forum Association

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