Not all attacks that were reported on Indian students in Australia were of a racist nature and largely speaking Australia is a country which has a multi-cultural character and does offer students good educational opportunities, emphasised a delegation of young Australian leaders at the Australian High Commission here on Thursday.
The delegates did not rule out the possibility that some of the attacks could have been racially motivated.
Young Australian leader David Barrow said: “International students are in a precarious situation. One reason is the lack of infrastructure to support the recent massive influx of students from outside. There are also safety issues.”
Responding to queries about the reported attacks on Indian students in Australia, Mr. Barrow, who is a member of the young Australian delegation for the upcoming Confederation of Indian Industry Summit in neighbouring Gurgaon, said: “Indian students who constitute a sizeable segment of international students are more likely to report incidents of violence than others, particularly in these times. But students from other countries too have their issues.”
He admitted that it was likely there could be incidents of violence that went unreported from other communities.
“The Government needs to fundamentally restructure the system in this regard. The first step has been taken but a lot more work has to be done in this direction. The Australian student community strongly supports the international student community,” Mr. Barrow added.
Admitting that Victoria was an area which needed better policing and public transport, a delegate said: “Victoria is an area with nearly 93,000 foreign students, which is more than any other area. The police until recently had not been sensitised on the matter of dealing with international students.”
Charishma Kaliyanda, a student delegate from the University of New South Wales, said: “International students in comparison to locals may not be aware of which areas to avoid. Hence they unknowingly venture into wrong areas of the city and become the target of trouble.”
Another delegate added: “Students who come over to study in Australia often support themselves by working late night shifts in sometimes unsavoury areas of the city. This may make them additionally vulnerable to trouble.”
Ruchir Punjabi, who runs a digital media agency in Australia, admitted to being mugged there. “It was a non-racist incident. I happened to be at a place which was not very safe. Hence I was mugged, but luckily emerged unscathed.”
It was admitted that not all incidents could be pinned down to being at the wrong place at the wrong time.