a multicultural Research Library

Making multicultural Australia

Search the complete site: ... Sitemap » ... Links to other sites »

multicultural Video »

Category: Interviews »

Subject: Immigration »

Serap Ozedemir describes her father's experience of work and racism in Australia

Serap Ozdemir.



Date Added:

15 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

8.4 MB




He used to always say that sometimes racism is a bit like this, that they want you to do the things that they need you to do and they want you to be like what they want you to be, but if you’re any better than them, then you get ostracised and that’s exactly what happened in the sense that apparently every day for seven years he was faced with verbal abuse, harassment, tried to ignore it, ignore it, bottled it all up. When he used to say, “good morning” to people at BHP they’d never reply, they’d just say a whole lot of derogatory words about Turks every day.
And he literally didn’t relay any of this to us until he came home one day and said, after seven years and Mum was very homesick and missing her family and it was particularly difficult for my grandmother, my mother’s mother because there were no other grandchildren literally overnight, she’d lost four grandchildren and one on the way, so Mum had a lot of guilt issues around that and was always asking Dad to move back. She never really felt settled and when this level of racism actually occurred, Dad had no hesitation to want to go back. He said, “I’d rather starve in my own nation, but know that it’s in my own nation and feel supported.”
But I remember that night where he came home, literally within a week we had to pack and we kids were very upset because we came to this country with no English, to learn English to losing how to speak Turkish, because Dad was working long hours and many other Turkish kids used to go to – they didn’t have Turkish classes really then, they had religious classes and Dad wasn’t overly keen about having us in religious classes, he wanted us to learn Turkish and when that wasn’t happening, he withdrew us so it was very difficult to keep the dialogue, we could understand Turkish, but none of us by the seven years could actually speak Turkish at all.
And already, you know, I was very active in sport and you know, had my netball friends and school friends and I had just started high school, Uni High School in Coburg and – next to Pentridge which we take a lot of pride in. And yeah, Dad just said, “Look, if I don’t, something awful is going to happen and I don’t want that angry side coming out of me, I have no choice.” But also there was a lot of discrimination in the sense that they would give him fairly significant tasks and he would see people being uplifted into, you know, different positions and what have you and they always kept him in his base. But then every young person that would come in, he’d have to train them.