‘See racial discrimination through my eyes’



NAB’s Mangala Prasetia was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and is fluent in English, Indonesian and Chinese.

He’s lived in Australia for most of his life and says he enjoyed a ‘Western’ education in a very traditional ‘Eastern’ upbringing.

“I spoke English at home with my parents who would respond in Indonesian, and my maternal grandpa would speak to me in Chinese.

“Growing up we ate food from all sorts of different cultures and cuisines. From chicken tandoori, laksa and Ayam Goreng (which literally translates to fried chicken), to chicken parma and Hainanese chicken rice.

“And to top it all off, my name is derived from an ancient Indian language, Sanksrit, so it felt like a very multicultural upbringing.”


Confronting racism

NAB’s Mangala Prasetia

Mangala encountered racial discrimination at an early age. Racially motivated riots took place in Indonesia in the late nineties and houses in his street were looted and set on fire.

“I didn’t understand why it happened at the time,” he said. “When I grew up, I realised it was triggered by an economic recession and the prime target was the ethnic Chinese community.

“It made me question why people would do such horrible things to each other, and all because of something as tokenistic and shallow as appearance.”

But that wasn’t to be his last experience with racial discrimination.

“I’ve had people mispronounce my name, tell me to ‘stop spreading coronavirus’ while shopping for groceries, and call me names while on public transport.”

He’s also seen the impact of racial discrimination on family, friends and others.

“At uni a student loudly joked about a classmate’s ethnicity in front of a whole room of people. Thankfully, our professor called out his behaviour.”

It’s often an uncomfortable reality and, sometimes, a daily experience for anyone from a different cultural background.


Bring people together

Mangala (front right) with his Cultural Inc colleagues

But Mangala’s experience at NAB has been a positive experience right from the start.

“I’ve always noticed a genuine openness and respect for other’s cultures and backgrounds at NAB,” he said. “I think the events like ‘Taste of Harmony’, where colleagues are encouraged to bring and share a cultural dish, help drive a lot of that.

“Food brings people together from anywhere and everywhere!”

He also credits NAB’s Employee Resource Groups for raising awareness of – and showing executive support for – diversity and inclusion. These groups also create the space for colleagues to speak about their experiences.


Through Mangala’s eyes

Mangala visiting the UN, wearing the batik

Mangala says he shares his story to help others “see racial discrimination through my eyes” rather than trying to shock or shame others, and that positivity is “always” the way forward.

“If you want to get a little bit more of an understanding of what others can experience, I highly recommend ‘Growing up Asian in Australia’ by Alice Pung,” said Mangala. “It’s a great book!”

Mangala says he now feels comfortable bringing his full self to work at NAB, and has seen progress in our inclusion and diversity through the celebration of events that celebrate a multitude of cultures.

“Growing up, I wasn’t comfortable wearing traditional Indonesian clothing (called ‘batik’) in public,” he said, “so when I wore the Batik during Harmony Week last year, that was a really proud moment for me.

“I’m looking forward to doing it again this year and hopefully seeing others do the same.”


UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Today marks the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day recognises the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination and the challenges they face.

NAB is committed to providing colleagues a safe and respectful workplace, free from all forms of discrimination (including racial discrimination), harassment and victimisation.

NAB is also committed to ensuring that our customers are treated with respect and that NAB and its colleagues provide services and serve our customers in a way that is free from all kinds of discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Visit NAB’s Inclusion and Diversity page for more on inclusion and diversity at NAB.



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For all media enquiries, please contact the NAB Media Line on 03 7035 5015

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