RACISM is a problem in Toowoomba, according to 21-year-old Habiba Gwonya.

Ms Gwonya moved to Toowoomba with her mother, two sisters and brother in 2007 from war-torn South Sudan.

She said she encountered discrimination regularly, but mostly ignored it.

"It happens a lot, but I don't take them seriously as there's not much you can do about it."


In the most recent incident last year, Ms Gwonya was taking the rubbish bin out and was approached by two middle-aged men in a car.

"I thought they wanted directions, but they wound down the window and shouted '(derogatory comments) go back to where you came from'.

"Then they threw a banana peel at me."

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Ms Gwonya said that although initially welcomed by some members of the community, incidents like these left her feeling excluded from the community.

"I don't feel like an Australian citizen.

"It shouldn't matter what colour our skin is - we are all one people.

"We need to get the message across."

Habiba Gwonya has experienced racism since arriving in Toowoomba with her family in 2007.
Habiba Gwonya has experienced racism since arriving in Toowoomba with her family in 2007. Bev Lacey

Not everyone in the African community had experienced prejudice.

Congolese father Nestor Kangudia moved to Toowoomba with his wife in 2010 and said he had not experienced racism personally.

"My friends all tell me stories of racism in different forms," he said.

"Recently, one of my friends was walking from work to his place in a street in Newtown. Some people saw him coming and changed direction and ran away from him. He didn't understand why."

Mr Kangudia said he also heard many stories about workplace discrimination and people being unable to get a job based on the colour of their skin.

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