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Attacks By Hooligans Against Foreign Students In Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 5, 2009

In relation to attacks against foreign students in Australia, there are some tough questions. A number of reasons exist why the majority of these attacks have occurred on Indian students, and the issue is complex. The situations are not as portrayed, with a dangerous, irresponsible oversimplification, either by certain sections of the Indian media that are clearly committed to jingoism, hysteria, sensationalism and burgeoning of sales, who gravely misrepresent the view of a great many Indians who live in Australia (See e.g., statement by Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria president Vasan Srinivasan) or by an isolated but powerful and  disgraceful class of radio talk-back hosts who are biggots and their poorly-educated audiences we alarmingly still have in Australia, known as ‘shock jocks’.

No amount of misrepresentation can alter the facts that most Australians do not engage in or approve of racism. Many from some 200 countries who have migrated to this country attest to this fact. The situation is not assisted by those who, whether out of sensationalism or simple-mindedness or agendas of hatred resort to the fallacy of confusing part with whole, branding the behaviour of a few a whole group, who do not think, or feel or act out that for which they are being assailed.

However, the question of whether we in Australia are in danger of being selfish, cocooned, complacent and far too unquestioning of our ‘authorities’ and ourselves is quite another question. It was communities in the suburbs, far more than forces within governments, which won Australia’s great achievements in  forging a multicultural society. Sometimes the word ‘multiculturalism’ has been used but it can be a confusing and systematically misleading term.  The Australian experience – or experiment –  needs to be carefully distinguished from the performances of other countries, and discussed with proper regard for the facts.  One starting-point for those who wish to survey the area is the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council, which has many resources both practical and academic. The Council’s website is HERE.

But there is a work undone: those communities especially in the outer suburbs to which many foreign students are driven by their economic constraints will have to do some of it. They will need to rise to an occasion. Or will they expect the police and other authorities to do it for them? To stand by when bones are being broken and lives destroyed does not add up to self-respect and a sense of justice within those in whose midsts violence is happening.

I offer some questions – very preliminary – that I think my fellow Australians will need to consider:

Why have not messages got through to increasingly bold urban hooligans that attacks on anyone are not to be tolerated?

Why are these uneducated hooligans being permitted to sway Australia’s standing in the fellowship of nations?

What is there about our education, justice and parental support systems that allow for the existence of hooliganism?

What, if any, community-based, imaginative, proactive steps are being taken to make foreign students, migrants and refugees to feel welcome, valued and safe in Australia?

If the police are engaged in a losing battle, as in other areas such as drugs, are the Federal, State and Local governments failing in being upfront and in ensuring the widest public awareness and debate?

Why have attacks escalated to such a point where it has taken organized protests by Indian students studying in this country – and giving up their valuable time in which to raise their voices – before there is strong action directed to remediation?

Are outer and working class suburbs embraced by the powerful ethos  in this country which has generated so many distinguished achievements in bringing about Australia’s in many ways successful multicultural society?

What, if anything, has been the responsiveness by police, the three tiers of government, welfare, civic, religious, cultural, sporting organizations, especially in the outer suburbs to the conditions in which many overseas students are economically forced to study, travel back and forth, and reside?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness about the enormity of contribution foreign students make to Australia, both in immediate economic terms but in many, and often intangible ways, in regard to the quality of lasting ties of friendship and cooperation internationally?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness of the difficulties many overseas students face in regard to finance, language, culture, cuisine, arduous travel times back and forth between residence and place of study, the perils of landlordism, their being forced to take part-time jobs and somehow coping with demanding courses of study, and so on?

Have the police forces examined their own assumptions? For example, how could police possibly know whether many UNreported attacks were racist or not? The notion is absurd.

Are some police authorities refusing to see that a crime can be BOTH opportunistic AND racial?

Many Indian students, supported by their government and by leaders in the Australian Indian community, attest that the police have not been – qualitatively – listening. Why are the police listening now, and why, in certain ways, too late? Young students at this very moment lie bloodied and broken.

What is the accountability of those policemen police who manhandled parts of the crowd, in attendance at what the responsible media has reported as, except for rare exceptions, a peaceful protest by thousands?

Why are the State and Federal Governments and the education institutions at which foreign students study suddenly galvanized? Why not before this?

A question for those who cry racism at every turning: Has it been noticed that extremely few along the path of the march have been reported, on any side, as having been racist or insulting in any way?

A Helpline for Indian students who are victims of crime is available: 1800342800. From 10am to 5pm, and 7pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday.  Hellplines for ALL foreign students need to be provided and made extensively-known through the student fraternity.

Further Reading

Indian Students Attacked In Melbourne Australia: Cricket Star Brett Lee Voices Concerns

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 4, 2009

Attacks Against Indian Students in Melbourne, Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 2, 2009

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UPDATE

From ‘Hindustan Times’ – which shows a sanity lacking in the sensationalists sections of the Indian media

See article details at this Blog:

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2 Responses to “Attacks By Hooligans Against Foreign Students In Australia”

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  2. […] Attacks By Hooligans Against Foreign Students In Australia […]

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