‘Attacks on Indian students not racial’

Last Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 17:50

Melbourne: An official report released on Thursday ruled out racial reasons behind the more frequent attacks and assaults on Indian students in Australia as compared to the other foreign.

Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) released a 72-page report a first of its kind against the backdrop of student attack crisis that dealt with the growing incidents of assault and robbery crimes against overseas students in Australia between 2005-2009.

In core, the study "indicates that international students are less likely or as likely to be victims of physical assault and other theft" as the general population of
the country. "Further, the level of crime experienced by international students of different nationalities varied, with Indian students typically experiencing the same or a heightened incidence of assault and other theft than other student nationalities," it said.

"The findings for robbery were more concerning in international students, again predominantly Indian students (males and females), but also Chinese males, were
significantly more likely to be the victim of robbery for some jurisdictions for some years compared with Australian reference populations."

The report, however, ruled out racism as a cause for the higher theft rate and instead suggested that better grasp over English placed Indian students over students from China, Korea and other source countries in finding better jobs and getting exposed to the public.

"Indian students in particular, are known to have a greater proficiency in English and, as such, appear much more likely than students from East Asian countries to find employment in the service sector," the report said. "This includes service stations, convenience stores, taxi drivers and other employment that typically involves working late night shifts alone and come with an increased risk of crime, either at the workplace or while travelling to and from work."

As per the key findings the assault rate of Indian students was lower or on par with rates for the general population of Australia. Conversely, it was found that robbery rate against Indian students scaled higher than an averager Australian in larger state in most years.

It has been revealed that over half of robberies against Indian students occurred on the commercial premises at various service stations, adding that it was actually double the robbery rates that were recorded for students from other countries.

There have been ranging factors like differences in employment, working evening/night shifts, working in higher-risk employment (taxi driving and in convenience/fast food stores and service stations) and use of public transport that leads to higher rates of robbery and assault cases against Indian students, as compared to other international students and Australian population.

"The Australian government takes very seriously any allegations that people are being criminally victimised," an official statement said. In 2010, the then Minister or Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, had announced that AIC would conduct independent research for crimes against overseas students in particular
reference to crime rates against Indian students.

At the release of report, AIC Director Adam Tomison said "This ground-breaking analysis data matched 418,294 students from five source countries with police victim records over the five years. The nature of the data did not allow the
AIC to engage in specific analysis of racial motivation.

"That said, there was nothing in the overall findings that lends support to the view that Indian students have been singled out primarily for racial reasons." As the data did not include offender profiles, the AIC could not engage in specific analysis of racial motivation.

The assault rates on Indian students were as a matter of fact either below or the same as for the general Australian community suggests that race is not a
primary motivation.

The research will be used to counter the fears of parents and authorities in India that their children coming here on student visas suffer from race-based attacks. "... they should not yet be interpreted as evidence of racism," said the report of the study`s findings.

The fears of parents, fanned by bitter news reports, have damaged the international education industry, Australia`s third-biggest export worth about USD 18 billion a year.

AIC examined the immigration records of more than 400,000 foreign students and cross-referenced with police reports of crimes between 2005 and 2009 in the first study of its type. The study found that 29 per cent of international students were employed in accommodation and food services, followed by 16 per cent in the retail trade.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 17:00

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