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Discrimination hits quarter of Australians

Almost one in four Australians has experienced major discrimination, from being overlooked for a job to being refused a bank loan.

That's the startling feedback from 6000 Australians surveyed about their attitudes to social inclusion.

Name-calling and being shown a lack of respect happens to a quarter of Australians at least weekly, researchers at BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University, have revealed in a report released on Monday.

Religious and racial minorities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are most likely to be in the firing line of the discrimination.

Yet a third of the surveyed Australians are willing to volunteer to help disadvantaged and minority groups, while half will intervene to stop discrimination when they see it.

The index scores out of 100 on five key measures, with Australia notching up a total of 62.

The social inclusion index is the nation's first.

BehaviourWorks Australia Professor Liam Smith said it measured "ingrained attitudes and behaviours" towards people of different backgrounds, views and circumstances.

Research fellow Nick Faulkner said the findings revealed there were substantial challenges for the nation to overcome to ensure all Australians felt included.

"Reducing prejudice, creating more opportunities for inter-group contact and friendship, and building minority groups' sense of wellbeing are some of the challenges we need to address," Dr Faulkner said.

"With discrimination being linked to reduced health and wellbeing, and harming the extent to which people feel part of the Australian community, it's important that initiatives are developed to progress social inclusion in Australia."

The report draws upon three waves of survey data collected between 2017 and 2018.

© AAP 2019