Kolkata, July 15 (ANI): An Australian Government delegation, led by Colin Walters, met with West Bengal Chief Secretary Asok M Chakrabarti on Wednesday and briefed him about Canberra's response to recent crimes against Indian students in Australia.
A statement issued by the Australian High Commission in New Delhi quoted the delegation as saying that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other political leaders have responded quickly to the issue.
"They have issued a series of firm statements saying that Australia has zero tolerance for racism and that Australia is proud of its multiculturalism. The Australian Government has initiated a review of legislation pertaining to international students, a rapid audit of institutions to ensure they deliver quality education, and established a student roundtable to bring the concerns of international students directly to the attention of Ministers. This is a first order priority for the Australian Government," the delegation is said to have told Chakrabarti.
The visiting delegation further informed that the Australian Police have taken the issue very seriously and have deployed significant resources to make students safer in Australia, especially in Melbourne. Police are working to improve their communication with Indian students. A recent cricket match between police and students was a mark of this closer cooperation.
Australian Universities have issued a Ten-Point Plan to address issues raised by students including affordable accommodation, safety and other issues.
Chief Secretary Chakrabarti welcomed the briefing and agreed that this was generally a matter of urban crime, not racism. There was no suggestion that Indians specifically had been targeted. Like in many big international cities, a degree of crime exists and it is important to take care. He appreciated the Australian statements of regret about the crimes suffered by some students but said most students enjoyed their time in Australia and felt welcomed by the Australian community.
He said the parents of students from West Bengal and elsewhere in India should be assured that the Australian Government was taking the issue of student safety very seriously.
He added that the growth in education cooperation between Australia and West Bengal was very encouraging and it should continue to grow in the future. He also stated that both Australia and India have much to benefit from closer cooperation and hoped that Indian students and Indian people will continue to be welcome in Australia.
The Australian delegation also met with parents and students who are considering studying in Australia or who have relatives already in Australia. (ANI)