Mayor Paul Pisasale from the City of Ipswich, Queensland said there is no need for Indian students to feel apprehensive about studying in Australia. Mr. Pisasale was present in Hyderabad for the launch of a website www.aussieindiaharmony.com, at a time when Australian media reports a steep fall in Indian students applying to Australian universities.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Pisasale said while racism exists, it was not as bad as it was being portrayed. “Racism exists everywhere. Unfortunately, Australia is being targeted because a single incident is blown out of proportion when 50 such incidents elsewhere as in United States are not highlighted,” he bemoans.
Mr. Pisasale cited his own example as the son of an immigrant to argue against Australians being racist. “My parents are from Italy and my father worked hard to educate us. And today am the Mayor of the same city where he used to dig ditches,” he pointed out.
He says most crimes occurred because the students were in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Be it Indians or Germans, there are some places in Australia, India or anywhere in the world where we have to be careful,” he points out.
While affirming that 98 per cent of the Indian community were living in harmony, he stressed on the need to address the remaining two per cent and blames the media of both nations for focusing on the negative aspects.
“Australian media is the first culprit. If an Indian launches a website, the story would be on page 20 in Australia but if an Indian and an Australian fight that would be on page one,” he said.
He accuses the media for ‘jumping the bandwagon' in many cases (of alleged racist attacks) even before the investigation was complete and cited the example of an Indian student who claimed he was attacked but later confessed to self-inflicting himself.
He however accepts that media had a crucial role to play in highlighting the issue. “If they (media) had not done that the issue may have gotten worse,” he says.
The City of Ipswich, he said, now donning the role of a guardian for international students. “We are involving them on holidays, weekends etc and international students are now invited for lunches and dinner by other members in the community,” he said.
Mr.Pisasale advises the Indian students to do their homework properly. “Get in touch with officials; contact the City Council or the Mayor and the Indian organisations. Do your homework properly instead of getting overtly excited about going to a new country,” he said.