Australia today admitted that its image had been affected by a spate of attacks on Indians, some of which “had racial overtones” and promised to take effective corrective steps, including increase in jail term for racial crime.

John Brumby, Premier of Australia’s Victoria province where most of the attacks have been taking place, met Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, assuring them that his government was “doing everything” possible to ensure total safety of Indians living there.

During the meetings, Mr. Brumby was conveyed about India’s concerns over recurring attacks and was asked to take all necessary steps to improve safety and security of Indians.

“Our image has really been affected by incidents of attacks on international students. But I would like to make it abundantly clear that we are doing all our best to protect our international students,” Mr. Brumby told reporters.

Admitting that “a small number of cases had racial overtones,” he said the government has decided to increase the jail term of those found to be involved in racial attacks.

In his meeting with Mr. Brumby, Mr. Ravi requested the premier to provide India a summary of incidents against Indians that had taken place in Melbourne and the follow-up actions by the Austrailian authorities. Mr. Brumby readily agreed to the request.

Scholarship

The premier also announced scholarships of 10,000 dollars (Australian) for Indian students under his government’s ambitious ‘Thinking Global’ initiative.

During the meeting with Mr. Ravi, both sides also discussed the possibility of having group housing and separate transportation facilities for international students.

Seeking greater cooperation between India and Australia in the field of IT, biotechnology and medicine, the premier said both the countries could immensely benefit from such collaborations. “It is crucial that both Victoria and India invest in our next generation of innovators and thinkers as we forge stronger bonds and new solutions to secure the future,” he said unveiling the AUD 1.2 million ‘Thinking Global’ programme.

Mr. Brumby said ‘Thinking Global’ is a USD 14 million initiative to support and grow improve Victoria’s international education sector and improve the experience, safety and well-being of overseas students in the province.

As part of the initiative, new students will be given opportunity to team up with local students and community organisations to help find their way around their new life in Melbourne.