chapter  3
Diffi cult conversations: race, class and gender in White Australia
ByBrendan Churchill, Joselynn Baltra-Ulloa, Robyn Moore
Pages 8

Since colonisation, Australian society has been hierarchically structured according to race, class and gender. Although Australians may acknowledge that these hierarchies existed in the past, their contemporary manifestation is denied through recourse to discourses of egalitarianism and individualism. Despite evidence that one’s racial identity continues to have a profound impact on life chances; that income inequality between rich and poor has increased signifi cantly in the last twenty years; and that women’s earnings are decreasing relative to men, Australians stubbornly cling to the idea that Australia is a fair and equitable society in which everyone receives a ‘fair go’. Within this context, notions of disadvantage based on race, class or gender are rendered obsolete and to claim disadvantage according to these criteria is seen not as a genuine grievance but as a political manoeuvre. Introducing these ideas into public debate, therefore, is fraught. This chapter explores how race, class and gender form part of the national conversation. Drawing on critical Whiteness theory, the chapter also explores why these national conversations are diffi cult for White Australians and why, in particularly, issues of race, class and gender remain siloed in public discourse.