Australia to open help line for Indian victims of racist attacks

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Melbourne, May 12 (ANI): The Australian and Victorian governments have decided to open a help line to assist Indian students who are victims of crime.

The help line will begin operating from Friday amid mounting alarm over violent racist attacks in Melbourne's western suburbs, reports The Age.

The strategy comes as statistics obtained by the State Opposition reveal violent crime has risen by up to 100 per cent in some areas in the west over the past eight years.

The Australian Government has warned that its 3.5 million dollar campaign to attract Indian students to combat the recession could remain a "non-starter" if the issue of racial attacks was not addressed.

However, Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said that without a zero-tolerance approach to racial assaults and more police, there was little hope of stamping out the violence.

Statistics obtained by the Opposition under Freedom of Information laws show violent crimes against persons in Melton increased by 101 per cent from 2000-2001 to 2007-2008. There was an increase of 51 per cent over the same period in Brimbank, 43.5 per cent in Wyndham and 15.2 per cent in Hobsons Bay, while Maribyrnong bucked the trend with a decrease of 11.4 per cent.

The Federation of Indian Students of Australia said police had failed to curb racist attacks against Indians and it did not see many positive developments from the reference group.

Other strategies discussed by the group include educating Indian students to keep a low profile by not displaying signs of wealth, such as iPods or laptops, and not talking loudly in their native tongue when travelling on trains late at night.

Police say these suggestions came from Indian members.

Federation of Indian Students of Australia president Amit Menghani said keeping a low profile would do nothing to prevent Indian students like Sharma from being bashed by racist gangs. (ANI)

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