Thursday, January 14, 2010

Racism in Australia

Ms. Julia Gillard
Minister for Education

Dear Minister,

While we are waiting for your reply below, would you like to comment with regard to the Sydney Morning Herald's report?

We wait for your early reply.

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang.

A racial factor cannot be denied
January 11, 2010 - smh editorial
JULIA GILLARD'S is a name oft mentioned when pundits speculate about successors to Kevin Rudd. But the acting Prime Minister's handling of the issue of violence against Indian students does not recommend her. Her mantra that Australia is safe and not beset by racism looks and sounds at best like a denial of the ugly reality, at worst like her top priority is protecting the vocational training industry. The public in both India and Australia need much more explanation of what is happening.

As the Herald reported on Saturday, Victoria Police statistics reveal that Indians are 2½ times more likely to be assaulted than other Melburnians. That alone adds a racial dimension to the crime problem. This should be admitted. Instead, the denial is leading to misleading assumptions in Indian media that young Indians are somehow attracting more hatred than other visible minorities or that race is the only factor.

A better understanding suggests the problem is that very large numbers of young Indians have suddenly come to Australian cities from small-town, non-English speaking backgrounds, and been thrust by circumstances amid the social strata least prepared for competition in jobs and housing, and into work at service stations, convenience stores and fast food outlets that often requires them to be out and about in the lonely night hours.

As the Melbourne sociologist Bob Birrell points out, sheer numbers have pushed Indian students out of the usual inner-city haunts of students into the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, where ethnic minorities and low socio-economic residents are concentrated. The limited information about the assailants suggests they are overwhelmingly teenagers, and not exclusively from the Caucasian majority but also including non-European juveniles. Robbery is most commonly the motive, and alcohol likely to increase the level of violence. But it is possible that a resentful perception of Indian students is spreading among local have-nots. The murder of Nitin Garg showed a horrifying violence, and his valuables were not taken. We await an explanation from police of the latest horror at the weekend, a petrol attack on another young Indian man.

That the numbers of Indians applying for visas to study here is falling is partly a result of the perceived prejudice and danger, but also a result of the necessary tightening up of a scheme that, as Birrell has pointed out, might have been good business for the vocational sector but ''made a monkey'' out of Australia's immigration policy. If Gillard cannot get across her appreciation of this point, then perhaps Rudd needs an education minister without a conflict of interest as employment minister.

Dear Senator Hanson-Young of the Greens Party,

We refer to your article and the other report below and wish to congratulate you for calling "a spade a spade" because racism does exist in this lucky country - Australia.

Having been in my adopted country for more than 50 years, I suspect Mr. Garg's death was caused by racism - despite the Deputy PM/Victorian Premier stated otherwise.

Not only that, Labor has re-introduced Racist Arthur Calwell's statement in the 50s: "Two Wong don't make a White".

Racism does destroy the quality of life.

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang
Unity Party WA
Ph/Fax: 61 893681884
Environmental Friendly - Save the trees - Use Email.
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Racism does exist in Australia
This week has seen tensions between Australia and India escalate, following yet another attack on an international student. Indian authorities have issued a travel warning about increased violence in Melbourne. The Australian Government is in damage control.

While police investigations into the fatal attack of accounting graduate Nitin Garg in Melbourne and the discovery of the body of an unidentified Indian student in NSW are ongoing, the motives behind these attacks remain unclear.

What is certain however is that there is growing disquiet about the way our international guests have been treated. Yet, our Deputy PM, and the acting Premier of Victoria have been quick to dismiss the possibility that racism may have been a factor in why these young people were targeted, attacked and killed.

While it's too soon to determine exactly what happened, to simply rule out the possibility that racism was involved is neither good leadership nor smart diplomacy in an environment of increased violence.

The Australian Government's indignant dismissal of the suggestion that racism exists in Australia, can only be seen as inflammatory in India, where emotions are still running high. And for those in Australia who have been on the receiving end of racial intolerance and abuse, it must simply be ignorant and insulting.

The state and federal Government's parroting of PR-lines on these attacks has increased the perception of government indifference. The response to the attack on Shravan Kumar last May, the young Indian student who was attacked with a screw-driver through his skull, while strongly condemned by politicians and Government officials, is a case in point.

If Government officials are to be believed, Mr Kumar was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The attack was "opportunistic" and it was not Mr Kumar's race that made him vulnerable, but rather the fact that he inadvertently walked into harm's way.

As the Senator responsible for establishing the Senate Inquiry in the safety and welfare of international students last year, I have spoken to many of these students about their experiences here in Australia. Most of them are extremely positive, but some have told me that after finding themselves victims of physical abuse they had been told by authorities to not carry iPods with them and to avoid speaking in their own language on public transport. What the?

Since when was it the victims fault that they were attacked by 'opportunists'? Since when do we say that victims of violent assault and fatal attacks were simply 'in the wrong place at the wrong time', or carrying one too many iPods?

Can we honestly say that racism does not exist in Australia? You only need to spend an afternoon listening to talk back radio to understand what I'm getting at.

Not everyone holds intolerant views of people from other cultural backgrounds or race, and out of those who do, very few would act on it. But nonetheless, some people are just bigots. It's true. Narrow-mindedness and racism do exist in Australia, and it's wrong.

We know this racist sentiment is unfounded and stems from an irrational fear of the unknown. But we can't address this, if we pretend it doesn't exist.

Some people are racists and politicians are kidding themselves if they think that by denying this, these people will somehow go away, or no one else will notice them. Every country has its fair share of morons; people who commit acts of violence against others simply because of the colour of their skin, their gender or their sexuality. Sadly, Australia is no exception.

Only by exposing and repudiating racism wherever it exists, are we truly able to move forward as a harmonious and unified community. Ignorant views fester, when we turn a blind eye. Racist ideas only flourish in the shadows, when they are not held up to the light of public scrutiny.

We need leaders to be honest enough to address the issue directly rather than sweep it under carpet, doing so under the guise of the 'new political correctness' that says we can't mention racism because it will whip up a Pauline Hanson style backlash. Yes, racism does exist in Australia and it is wrong. Australia is not immune from morons.

Unfortunately, if you identify racist attitudes in Australia you are all too often accused of being unpatriotic. I love my country and it is for this reason I know we can and must do better. Isn't the quest to be the best country we can be, at the heart of patriotism?

Surely, our political leaders should be mature enough to call a spade a spade and start challenging the views that should hold no place in a modern and tolerant democracy like ours. Only if we do this, can we rightfully market Australia as a prime destination for international students and visitors.

Race hate scandal rocks some of nation's most elite schools
By James Campbell and Eliza Sum - Sunday Herald Sun - January 03, 2010 7:24AM

MORE than a dozen elite schools are embroiled in a race hate scandal as many of their students join a Facebook group calling for immigrants to get out of Australia.
The group's page, which features a picture of the Australian flag with the words "F--- off we're full" written across it, tells non-English speakers "if you wanna speak your crappy language, go back to were (sic) you came from".

The Facebook group is called "Mate speak english, you're in australia now" and has more than 5000 members from across the nation. It is growing by more than 300 people a day.

Anti-racism groups and school principals yesterday condemned the site, started as a prank, and called for Facebook to delete it.

Its provocative and poorly spelled page features racist rants against Muslims, non-English speakers and migrants.

The group includes students from Scotch College, Melbourne Grammar, Geelong Grammar, Trinity Grammar, Lauriston, Mentone Grammar, Ivanhoe Grammar, Camberwell Grammar, and Haileybury as well as a number of Victorian government schools.

A 16-year-old Berwick Secondary College student told the Sunday Herald Sun the group had been founded by his friends a few months ago as a joke after hearing other languages spoken on trains.
He said they made him an administrator, but he now bitterly regretted his involvement with the group.

"I've got friends from all different cultures," he said.

"People started posting racist stuff. When I caught on, that's when I exited."

The youth said he had contacted Facebook three times asking for the page to be deleted.

"Because there are no administrators left, only Facebook can delete it," he said.

Dr Chris Hayes, Principal of Xavier College, said anyone who had joined the group had broken the school's rules.

"The school abhors this sort of behaviour because it goes against everything the school stands for," he said.

Principal Ross Bevege of Berwick Secondary College said the site was disgusting and offensive and that he had contacted a student's parents about his involvement.

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