New Delhi, July 15 (ANI): Victorian state Premier John Brumby led fellow Victorians on a walk through Melbourne on July 12 to reaffirm Victoria's strong support for multiculturalism and cultural diversity.
Around 5,000 people turned out to show their support.
"Victorians have today delivered a clear, powerful and unambiguous message in our Walk for Harmony: that our strength lies in our diversity," an Australian High Commission press release quoted Brumby, as saying.
Brumby said the event delivered a clear message to an ignorant minority that have cast a shadow over the State and Victorians in recent times.
"Today, shows that Victorians have the will and the resolve to fight for the values that have helped shape our State over the past one and a half centuries," Brumby said.
"Our Government is taking action to send the clear message that people of all nationalities should feel safe and valued in our state" he said.
Many Indian community groups participated in the event, including the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, the Sikh Interfaith Council, the Hindu Society of Victoria, and the Indian Women's Associations in Australia.
Only a small number of people spoke at the rally. Out of respect for the broader celebration of multiculturalism, it was not thought appropriate to single out one group to give a presentation. The Federation of Indian Students had initially threatened to boycott the rally after being told it would not be able to address the crowd.
Brumby said he would visit India at the end of September to reaffirm Victoria's reputation as a safe and welcoming destination for tourists and international students. "I intend to meet with Indian education, government and business leaders to reaffirm that Victoria welcomes them with open arms."According to the media release, Brumby also unveiled a new international students' care service which will provide support and assistance 24 hours a day. It is a one-stop shop for referrals and assistance with crisis accommodation, counselling, legal assistance, and other support services.
Victorian Police have also stepped up efforts to counter crime in areas where Indian students are living. Mr Brumby said: "Victoria Police is focusing on trouble spots around train stations and the Attorney General has announced the Government will amend the Sentencing Act to take into account racial or religious motives for violence." (ANI)