A recent research paper by Social and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University has revealed that Muslim residents in Australia are different from any other religious minority groups and are one of the most deprived socioeconomic groups in Australia.
One of the most important findings was that “Muslim residents in Australia often have higher levels of education than what is needed for their jobs.” The research also indicates that Muslims in Australia have higher unemployment rates than other groups, so they’re overqualified and underpaid. The same is not true with other minority religious or ethnic groups.
In another recent research project, Melbourne University Social Equity Institute in partnership with Women’s Health West, explored the Employment Barriers for Tertiary-educated Muslim Australian Women.
This research also presents similar findings where Muslim women commonly reported taking jobs well below their qualification level. This highlights the discrimination and bias against Muslim women in Australia who are seeking employment relevant to their qualifications.
In this research Muslim residents are once again reported as being higher educated than the general Australian population, but the income levels and employment rates are more greatly impacted.
In another further survey, young Australian Muslims report being discriminated against because of their ‘Muslim-sounding’ names for positions they are overqualified for and have then been forced to pursue lower paying jobs outside their profession.
This reduced income and lack of equal opportunity in employment forces Muslim families to choose more affordable fringe suburbs to settle in, forming a “cluster” of Muslims in some regions. In Victoria this is predominantly in Melbourne’s north, outer north and Melbourne’s western regions.
There are several reasons for this and both research papers argue that greater research is needed. The findings however also offer some possible reasons including Islamophobia in Australian media and its social, economical and political impacts which drive biases and discrimination in the workplace. This makes Kevin Rudd’s petition against the Murdoch empire a significant step forward towards greater social inclusion and equal opportunity in employment.
In Victoria the increase in the Muslim population in Melbourne’s north, outer north and western regions is driven largely by affordability of these suburbs.
With increased population comes the growing need of inclusive and culturally appropriate services to be made available in these high Muslim demographic regions.
One project that is taking a holistic approach to community needs is the Quba Mosque Project, positioned in the heart of Melbourne’s north on Hume Highway. It’s an accessible complex built in the tradition of Prophet Muhammed (s).
Sharing the same complex with Quba Mosque is the Islamic Sciences & Research Academy (ISRA), a platform where Muslims can move from being studied to studying themselves, their beliefs, values and history.
With a large dome, currently in construction stage, Quba Mosque offers a space for regular prayer and congregation as well as a 500 plus person community centre feature. Once completed, families will be able to make use of the centre’s funeral services, sports and leisure facilities, childcare facilities and the dedicated Information & Cultural Education Centre, to name a few.
Projects like Quba Mosque project are much needed in high Muslim demographic regions to cater to community needs and to foster a greater sense of belonging. People wanting to contribute to finalising the Quba Mosque project can go to https://www.qubamosque.org/