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Their stories forced Australia Govt to act

Navjot Singh is one of many Indian victims whose stories propelled rapid government action to ensure the security of all international students in Australia, reports Dheepthi Namasivayam.

world Updated: Jun 09, 2009 00:13 IST
Dheepthi Namasivayam

“Go there, patrol that area - make it safe, make it safe, for God’s sake, make it safe!” an impassioned Navjot Singh, 29, beseeched the police during a Sydney rally on Sunday, which saw hundreds unite against international student violence.

The part-time taxi driver and law student suffered a scar across his eye when he was slashed last month in an attack in Sydney’s west.

He is one of many Indian victims whose stories propelled rapid government action to ensure the security of all international students in Australia.

“They have been the first group to raise their voice, first to speak to the police, first to report crime, first to get organised,” David Barrow, president of the National Union of Students, told HT.

The Indian students, Barrow added, have set a benchmark for other ethnic groups to “be involved and get active” about their rights and security as international students in Australia.

The Australian media has followed every attack, protest and government meeting with keen interest, well before tensions escalated last month.

Last December, Melbourne newspaper The Age covered a protest outside a Queensland police station, where Indian men demanded police protection against race-related crimes.

In March, The Age exposed the scams of deceitful education agents and a Melbourne training college’s cash-for-marks scandal.

Both The Age and The Australian also reported the “slumdog” conditions of international students with some living with up to 14 others in a three-bedroom house and the exploitation of foreign students who work.

For Dr Glenn Withers, CEO of Universities Australia, the outrage over successive assaults on Indian students, fast-tracked a much needed investigation into the conditions of international students in Australia.