Victoria’s premier (equivalent to chief minister in India) John Brumby has been under mounting criticism from within and outside his state for his handling of the attacks on Indians and the increasing violence in the state. Brumby tells Outlook about the measures his government has taken to make Victoria safe for Indians.
How many Indian students are there in Victoria?
In 2009, there were more than 1,90,000 international students enrolled in Victorian institutions. Of these, 56,000 were Indian.
Why have the attacks on Indian students increased?
Of the crimes committed in Victoria, a majority are opportunistic street crimes that every city has to contend with. Robbery is the only offence type where Indians are over-represented.
Some say you are in self-denial in not acknowledging the fact that many of these attacks are racially motivated. Is that correct?
I have always had a strong view about protecting rights, a strong view about removing discrimination, a strong view about tackling discrimination and a strong view about tackling racism. In Parliament in June last year, I said, in relation to the concerns of the Indian community and our government, that there is no doubt that some, but not all, of the assaults which have been committed against members of the Indian community have been racially based. There is no place for violence of any kind in our community and there is no place for racism of any kind.
What measures have you taken to check the attacks against Indians?
Victoria police are doing much national and international research into racial violence. They have been engaging with students and teaching them how to keep themselves safe. Extra support has been provided to students, including free information sessions on safety, accommodation and employment.
In the face of such incidents, how do you convince Indian parents that Australia is a safe place for their children to come and study?
More than 44 per cent of Victorians were born overseas or have one parent born overseas. For the most part, Victoria is a harmonious and peaceful place—one of the great examples of multiculturalism anywhere in the world. Victoria is also one of the safest places in the world. Crime statistics show that Victoria is the safest state in Australia and one of the safest places in the world.