Centrelink Memes and Anti-Aboriginal Racism


“Aboriginal Memes”, that is racist captioned images attacking Indigenous Australians, first gained media attention around October 2012. OHPI produced the first major report on the topic, “Aboriginal Memes and OnlineHate“, which is available as a free download. Aboriginal Memes are less widespread these days but the do keep reappearing. The latest collection we have been altered to is on a page call “Centrelink Memes“. The administrator of the page specifically asks people to “take a joke” and not message them if people object to the content. Jokes are fine, but they are not an valid exclude for spreading racism.

You can help by reporting the racist images that have been posted to this page, and then reporting the page itself for hate speech. The page has 53,779 supporters and has been around since July 21 2012. It’s about time Facebook deals with this.


This briefing has three parts:

1. How to report the images

2. Some images to report – examples from the page

3. How to report the page

1. How to report the images

In the section below a number of images are shown with a links to report them. If the link does not display the image as shown, that may mean Facebook has removed it. If the image shows, that means it is still live. To report the image on Facebook follow these steps:

1. Click the link provided below, you will see something like this, and can click report (indicated by the red arrow below):

report Image - 1

2. You will see the screen below, and you can select “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook” and click continue.

report Image - 2

3. Now select “hate speech or symbol” and click next:

report Image - 3

4. Make sure you TICK the box to report it, then click continue:

report Image - 4

We really don’t see what the purpose of this step is, other than to potentially cause people reports to be dropped when they don’t tick the box (which is NOT ticked by default). Facebook need to remove this step. Having started a process of reporting something, OF COURSE you want to report it! Facebook really should get this fixed.

5. You will see this message, click Okay and you are done.

report Image - 5

2. Examples from the page


FBID 268328679955827 Report

This example presents a negative stereo type of Indigenous people as addicted to petrol sniffing. This is serious health problem that affects some Indigenous Australians, however, nationally it affects less than 1% of Indigenous young people. Useful information on this problem, reviewed by Professor Dennis Grey of National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, is available from the ABC. This is not something to joke about. It is a form of self harm / drug abuse and needs to be treated as such by Facebook.


 20131108 page id 225356237586405 - fbid 260021840786511 Report

As Reconciliation Australia explains, the idea that “Indigenous people are lazy and don’t want to work” is a myth that needs busting.  While the jobless rate of Indigenous Australians is higher than the general population, it is not significantly higher and issues related to remoteness, and therefore a lack of job opportunities, are a contributing factor. In non-remote areas, 90% of employed Indigenous people were working in mainstream employment.

 FBID 258166417638720  Report

This evokes stereotypes of Indigenous Australian as reliant on centrelink (see above) and of asking for handouts. The reference to a durry is Western Sydney slang for a cigarette.

FBID 257811807674181 Report

This image imputes that Indigenous Australians are abusing the welfare system, this links into a myth that Indigenous Australians get special treatment from Centrelink. As the Australian Human Rights Commission explains, “Generally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples receive the same level of public benefits as non-Indigenous people. Individuals do not receive additional public benefits because they are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.” The go on to explain the government programs that are designed to address specific challenges facing Indigenous people, but note that this is not in the form of additional income.

 FBID 242194912569204 Report

This imputes it is easier to get Centrelink payments is one is Aboriginal, drawing on the same ideas as discussed immediately above.


Hate against others

The page also displays a number of other forms of hate. This one in particular really needs to be reported:

FBID 250531885068840  Report

This post uses obscenity to attack former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and portray her in terms that are generally abusive to women. This post demonstrates misogyny, that is hate against women, a topic which OHPI has previously looked at, and which on that occasion involved death threats against Ms Gillard. You can see (and report) the death threat page here.

How to report a Facebook page

1. Start by visiting the page, for example, click to go to the Centrelink Memes page (ID: 225356237586405).

2. At the top of the page you will find a drop down menu that gives you the option to report the page (indicated by the red arrow).

report Page - 12. Select the option “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook”

report Page - 2

3. Select “Hate Speech” from the 4 options that appear, and a dropdown box will then appear where you can choose “Targets a race or ethnicity”.

report Page - 3

4. On the next screen make sure you TICK the “Report to Facebook” option, it is NOT ticked by default. We already discussed how poor this interface design is when considering the reporting of pages. This design is so bad it looks like it is intentionally done to lose your report. Don’t let that happen, tick the box!

report Page - 4

5. You get a message saying “thank you” and that they have received the report. You can click Okay and you are done. It’s interesting how the report for the images appologises for the experience you have had, but the report for the page doesn’t.

report Page - 5