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Truth Behind Indian Student Attacks in Australia

embraceaustraliaadmin | Thursday, January 7th, 2010 at 12:01 am

Indian students protest against the attacks.

Indian students protest against the attacks.

Attacks against Indian students in Australia appear to be mounting, but is it all just media hype? How did it all start and what is being done about it? To answer these issues we look at what motives lie behind the attacks and try to find the real story of what’s happening in Australia.

Indian students make up the majority of overseas students who come to Australia to study each year and the numbers are rising. There were 30,000 Indian students in Australia in 2004 and that figure has more than doubled to just under 100,000 in 2009. Some students come from poor, rural areas of India with a hope to gaining permanent residency in Australia.

May in Melbourne saw four students attacked with a screwdriver by gatecrashers at a party and one Indian student was critically injured and robbed as he walked alone at night.

In Sydney in June, Indian students took to the streets to protest against what they said was a rising spate of attacks upon their community. At the heart of their protest was the complaint that the police were not doing enough to protect them from these attacks. But were the attacks racially motivated? Well some of the attacks were by Lebanese nationals according to one victim Jimit Shah who claims he and his friends were attacked by men of Lebanese nationality who didn’t appear to have any motive other than violence.

Since May there have been many other reports of attacks against Indian students. Some were robbery motivated and some were not. Australian officials claimed that students were not being attacked because of the colour of their skin and Julia Gillard, the deputy prime minister insisted that Australia was a safe place for all overseas students to study and live in. She even visited India with PM Kevin Rudd and the Victorian premier John Brumby to reassure the government and the people of India that they were doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of the 100,000 Indian students currently studying in Australia.

The Federation of Indian Students of Australia are convinced that the attacks are racially motivated, pointing to a witness statement of the party in Melbourne who claimed that the attackers shouted racial abuse at the victims. But the Victorian Police Commissioner Keiran Walsh claimed that the majority of attacks against Indian students were opportunistic and motivated by robbery. He said that many of the students were attacked at night whilst they walked back to their campuses alone and he also stated that many students were in the habit of carrying valuable items with them such as mobile phones, laptops and i-pods.

PM Kevin Rudd meets Indian PM Manmohan Singh in a bid to ease tensions between the two countries.

PM Kevin Rudd meets Indian PM Manmohan Singh in a bid to ease tensions between the two countries.

The attacks and the protests gained widespread media coverage in India with many national papers branding Australia a racist nation. Australian ambassador John McCarthy flew over to India to discuss the attacks with the government there and he refused to comment on a motivation for the attacks, merely saying that he had not seen the evidence that the attacks were racist. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was also quick to condemn the attacks saying: “It is appalling in every sense. Any act of violence, any decent human being just responds with horror at the sorts of attack which have occurred recently.” The Indian Media was also accused of “hysterical reporting” by the Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans. However the Indian media hit back to claim that Australia was being denialist.

However, after the death in Melbourne last weekend of a young Indian national, the Indian government is now advising its students to take precautions against assault. And Australia’s High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese admitted that some of the attacks were racially motivated. An admission that is bound to sit uneasy with many Indian students.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research say that there has been no recorded increase in assault crimes in the Harris Park area of Sydney, a notorious spot for attacks. Yet Yadu Singh who is head of the Indian Student Welfare Committee said that many attacks were going unreported and he describes the attacks on Indian students as “curry bashing”. He also went on to say that the Indian Media’s reporting of the incidents was “irresponsible” and that many Australians were “outraged” with the way their country was being portrayed. He also confirmed that the number of Indian students dissatisfied with Australia was in the minority and that many of the students he had spoken with were happy studying in Australia and hadn’t encountered any problems at all.

So what is the Australian government currently doing to protect overseas students from attacks? International education contributed 13.7 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2007/08 so the government is keen not to discourage overseas students from applying.  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the “full force of law” would be used to protect students from attacks.

Duncan Lewis, former head of the Australian SAS, has been given the job of co-ordinating a special taskforce to examine the attacks on Indian students and Australia’s response to them. The Victorian government is also considering bringing in hate crime legislation that could lead to stiffer sentencing for those found guilty of such crimes. Also the Ministerial Council on Education said it would crackdown on education and training providers to ensure they are prioritising student safety.

So what is really happening? Well as the influx of Indian students rise in Australia, many students are being priced out of popular student areas and into less affluent suburbs where they compete for jobs and housing with low-skilled youths from other migrant backgrounds. So we come back to the first attacks mentioned which were perpetrated by Lebanese nationals.

The big question is whether the government are doing enough to ensure the safety of the thousands of students who contribute to the economy of the country. But with Paris and other major cities all having experienced similar racial attacks and protests, Australia really is no different. It’s no more dangerous to study in Sydney or Melbourne than it is to study in London or Paris. What happens now is very much dependant on the government’s response.

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12 Responses to “Truth Behind Indian Student Attacks in Australia”

Comment by Sydney Morgan — January 8, 2010 @ 10:46 am

Below is an extract from ‘The Hindu’ a daily with a wide circulation in India, dated 8th jan 2010. As an Indian, I confirm this is true. More than half of all Indian students are chasing P.R. in Australia. They are happy to ‘buy’ degrees from the new education ‘outfits’ which have mushroomed in our capital cities. Subjects chosen are those ranked high on the skills shortage list released at intervals by the Immigration Dept. The P.R. application process occus in Aust and no skills-test occurs. A mighty rort which Labor CANNOT be trusted to clean up.

Right diagnosis

Analysts here said the Minister hit the nail on the head. In their desire to escape lack of choices in the country and to obtain permanent residency in Australia, prospective students were grabbing hardly-heard-of vocational courses run by recently set up private institutions.

Tempted by agents, these students land in Australia without the means to pay for their stay and education. Many of those who got mugged were walking back home late at night, carrying wages paid in cash since they were working illegally to pay for their stay and education and qualify for permanent residency after completing the course, the analysts said.

Comment by sundeep — January 9, 2010 @ 7:13 am

Incompetent australian police. yet to solve a single case of attack on Indian students. Says it happens in urban cities…. my question what happens if some australians are attacked, burnt in india daily ?

Comment by Yeshu Sharma — January 9, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

I am an Indian student from brisbane. I am been here for approx 2 years. In these 2 years I haven’t met an single australian, who even spoken rude to me. Everybody is very friendly, having good sense of humour. They never treat me as I am from different part of world. On the other side our Indian student, when are in group, they tease local Ozzie girls, in bus or train they talk like crap. Play music loudly on their mobile, which is I reckon totally uncivilized thing to do. But still here in Brisbane not an single so called “attack” is recorded. And in India our media is always looking for such news for their “TRP”. And some political parties in India have enough fire to burn the posters of Ozzie Prime minister.

Thats it,

Just another student from “AUSTRALAI”….

Comment by Ross — January 10, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

Thank you Lisa. Its about time someone started telling the real story behind these attacks because the police seem to be doing everything they can to avoid the truth. You are right, there has been lots of attacks on Indian students in the Harris Park/Parramatta area and everyone knows that the culprits are gangs of Lebanese thugs but as usual nothing gets done about it. The proof is not hard to find as they openly brag and post videos on the internet of their cowardly acts of violence and their hate towards everyone and everything in Australia. The leaders of this country continue to deny the seriousness and extent of this problem because they know that as soon as they point the finger at this group they scream racism. Well their failure to act now has the whole international community thinking Australia is a racist country and its all because of the actions of this minority group within the Lebanese community that hate everyone but their own. I

Comment by Raj — January 11, 2010 @ 6:53 am

Nonsense. As an International student who did my undergrad in the UK and masters in Australia- Australia is a lot less tolerant of other nationalities and I felt my safety was at risk. Australia needs to acknowledge that it is a country with a racist past, which continues to have race issues today.

Comment by albert atallah — January 19, 2010 @ 2:53 am

I work in Education and I see most Indian students of middle to upper middle class who spend a year here as students and then resent not having all the rights of citizens. They see their friends do small corrupt things in their studies and work and they naturally want to do the same. They seem to resent the low paid jobs they do (how many people have been served by a surly young Indian man at apetrol station) and simply want permanent residence in Australia. When they begged their govt to protect them in Australia they thought it might help them get PR quicker. Instead they just “spit in the soup” for all other Indians as now the govt follows the rules in granting visas in India, and only 10% now qualify. The indian media is outraged at the racism in Australia. The world is outraged at the caste system in india, but no-one cares enough to bother about it.

Comment by Raza — January 21, 2010 @ 9:05 am

The explanation given here makes sense. The students are being forced to go to notorious suburbs to live and compete for work. Appreciating Austrlain dollar is not helping either, which is increasing cost of living every day. There should be student accommodation available on campus or near campus and it should be priced reasonably. That is the only mid term solution.

Comment by Sathyan — January 29, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

Racism does and still exist in all communities and countries. It is an exaggeration perhaps, to conceive Australia as a racism-free nation, honestly Australia still clings onto White-only policy. A lot of Australians in their emails, have targetted Indians and India on the status of racism there. No Indian has denied that India is racism-free, or made a statement that communal riots never happens there. But it is the Australian Government, public and the media that repeatedly reiterates that Australia is a racism-free nation, which is hard to admit. Given the fact, that police on several occasions pertaining to the attacks on Indians has turned a blind eye and arrived at the crime-scene hours later, to admit that they were prioritizing other issues first.

Come On Australia, stop living in an utopian world and live in reality. The whole world knows the treatment of aborigines at the hands of the white settlers.

Comment by Manny Doocane — February 11, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

The attacks on Indians are mainly racist and due to ignorance.

The Australian people are new to non-white migration. For many years only people from a white background could migrate to Australia. This was a deliberate Australian government policy, with approval by the majority white population.

You just have to look at the treatment, development, progress, integration of Aboriginal people since white settlement. This tells you all about how the majority of Australia deals with another racial group.

I believe the majority of Australians judge on colour and not on the content of a person’s character.

Comment by nina — August 19, 2010 @ 7:01 am

Australia is discriminating against young Indian tourists. Visas are being denied on frivolous excuses : eg. their salaries are low proving that they will not go back to India. This is just an excuse. The real reason is that Indians are being targetted in Australia, so lets not have them come into our country.

Is there an Australian migration agent who is willing to target this unfair decision racket ?

My daughter in law has a twin sister and a younger brother in India. We are celebrating the Navjote ceremony of our grandson.

They applied for a tourist visa and were denied visas. The reasons for the decision were so unfair and deregatory. It upset them to no end.

Their salaries were low so they would not go back.

They applied for a 10 day visa, so they won’t go back. The brother sent them a leave certificate for 14 days from his employer. Yet they made these unfair allegations.

Why should Indians especially face these racial torments, first of violence and then of rejection on false accusations ?

Comment by YOGI — November 10, 2010 @ 3:00 am

hi guys,
i had been watching an indian movie named ¨CROOK¨and that has what reminded me about the old activities which passed with indian students in australia… bt its been long since i last heard about some atackk..and so accordingly seems the matter is solved but what my concern about commenting on this issue after such a long time is to know whats the truth behind and how did i stop or got sorted out, is the movie ¨CROOK¨ story is same to real life.. or is it different. is it that one man make this situation happen for his personal reason or was it purely due to racism…
please i sincerely expect tht i would get some true answers and not like selfmade stories and all i would also prefer if some1 comments on my coment thn pls tell me how could i cross check that is its the truth or is it just selfmade story…

and do mail me at ¨ ¨

Comment by Anna Scrivenger — February 3, 2011 @ 3:21 pm


I believe that Crook is categorised as a thriller. It is a made-up story set against the backdrop of a few incidents that happened in 2007-2010 era. However the characters and the plot are invented as a story.

Hope this helps.

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