Reach Indians and South East Asians living in Australia




Australians have a reputation for being alleged racists, a charge they vociferously deny. While we understand that the vast majority of Australians are not racists, there have been a recent build up of incidents against the Indian community in the country that have raised murmurs of the dreaded ‘R’ word. Read on to find out more.

Australia is one of the world’s most multicultural countries, and yet it has a reputation for being racist. Of course, Australians will be the first to rise up in arms and defend themselves against this allegation, but eyewitness accounts of travellers and those who have visited bars and nightclubs will tell you a rather sobering story. Now, more and more incidents are happening that reinforce this stereotype. Here is a list from recent times.

1. An IIT research scholar is denied a visa on proliferation suspicions
An Indian student, Ananth SM from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, who was offered a fully funded PhD position at the University of Melbourne, was denied a visa in July by the Australian government under the reason that the applicant could be involved in the ‘proliferation of weapons of mass destruction’. A graduate from IIT Kanpur, Ananth works as an aerospace engineer and is bemused at this reason. However, in spite of interference from Shashi Tharoor, the issue still hangs in the balance.

2. Australian Indian commits suicide after being denied a PR
Deepak Singh, an Australian Indian who has been living in Australia since 2008, has committed suicide in his car after being denied a permanent residency in the country. Singh married to an older Australian woman a couple of years ago and was living in a temporary visa in Australia. His application for a PR based on his marriage was declined by the immigration authorities under the suspicion that the marriage was not genuine. The case was due to come up in Federal Court later this year, but it is said that Deepak did not have enough money to afford a lawyer.

3. A series of home invasion crimes have occurred in Melbourne
Three separate home invasions and assaults have happened in West Melbourne where black teenage burglars have targeted Indian-origin houses and broken into them. The modus operandi has been simple: either lure the people out of the house on a pretext or enter the house on an excuse, and then pull a knife or a gun on them to threaten them to part with their electronic items and keys, and then take off with the stolen goods. So far the robberies have been small ones, but there seems little doubt that these are racially motivated.

As these incidents build up over time and cause more consternation in the Indian community in Australia, we have a few recommendations for the members of the community in such times:

  • Stay united. Solidarity is the first step in facing adversity.
  • Begin conversations with your local law enforcement authorities – whether it’s the police or the mayor of your town. If your complaint is official and professional, you will be heard.
  • Educate members of your community on how to deal with situations like this. Instead of taking a ‘this won’t happen to us’ position, conduct workshops and awareness programmes on how to handle social stress of this kind.
  • Remember that the vast majority of Australians are not racist, and these are isolated incidents. It’s always better to take a step forward in friendliness and empathy rather than anger.

Try and bring such incidents out into the mainstream media so that the larger Australian community becomes aware of the problem.

Indrasish Banerjee

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