Melbourne: Indian students living in Australia have slammed Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland’s advice that they should not work as taxi drivers and should “look as poor as you can” to avoid being assaulted.
Overland had made the comments at an international students’ safety forum attended by about 150 people in the city on Saturday.
“Don’t display your iPods, don’t display your valuable watch, don’t display your valuable jewellery. Try to look as poor as you can,” Overland said before adding that foreign students should try to avoid living in Melbourne’s poorer suburbs where crime rates are higher.
However, Federation of Indian Students of Australia secretary Gautam Gupta blasted the advice, saying that Indians should not have to look “poor” to feel safe.
“What is he saying? Indians don’t have the right to be rich? And if they look rich, do they maybe have to get bashed? On one hand, everyone should look poor. On the other, don’t live in poor areas. I don’t understand,” The Age quoted Gupta, as saying.
He further said that taxi drivers had a right to feel safe no matter what their nationality is.
“It’s a workplace. Every workplace should be safe. I think it's a ridiculous idea. It is blaming the worker. It is blaming the victim,” Gupta said.
Australia not a racist country: Lee
Though the Indian media has gone to town describing Australia as a country where racism, especially against the Asian minority thrives, the continent’s pin-up boy – Brett Lee – has taken the initiative in saying this is not the case.
Lee is virtually playing the ambassador's role for Australia. He returned from the subcontinent last week concerned at the Indian media's perception of Australian society.
"I've been trying to explain to the Indian media that we're not a racist country," The Daily Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"The general chit-chat around the Indian public is fine, they love Australians coming to their country, but most of the problems seem to be driven through the Indian media. I tried to make it very clear over there that Australian people and our society, which is so multi-cultural, welcome Indian people with open arms. What has happened is terrible, no matter who's at fault," he said.
'Foreign students are being exploited'
Foreign students, including Indians, are being exploited by their employers as many of them are unaware of their rights or too afraid to complain, a senior politician from Western Australia said today.
Labor MLA John Hyde said although there are federal laws protecting overseas students, many are unaware of their rights or too afraid to complain, the ABC reported today.
Hyde cited example of a young Indian who was employed by an independent service station for 18 months and was forced to work unpaid training shifts, was not paid overtime or penalty rates and never received a payslip.
Crisis involving Indian students has deepened over the time following violent attacks against the community members that has revealed exploitation of students by greedy employers as well as dodgy colleges.
(With Agencies’ inputs)
First Published: Sunday, February 07, 2010, 13:30