Melbourne, Feb.23 (ANI): Victoria Premier J. Brumby has said in a statement that no violence will be tolerated against any community in the state.
The statement, which was released by the Australian High Commission here, quoted Brumby, as saying that his visit to St. Stephen's College in New Delhi, last September had provided him with a "wonderful opportunity to meet some of India's brightest young people."
"By meeting these students, I came to understand the trust that Indian parents place in our state and our government when they send their children to Victoria to study. As a father, having had a child living and studying overseas, I understand that trust. I know what it is like to worry about your child. Are they safe? Are they happy? I also understand those parents place their trust in the jurisdiction their child has chosen to live in to do all it can to look after the welfare of their child. I take the trust placed in us by Indian parents seriously and I am determined to do everything possible to repay it," Brumby said.
He said that the state of Victoria has been shaped by people from around the world.
"We come from more than 200 countries, speak more than 230 languages and dialects and follow more than 120 faiths. Today, Victoria's 150,000- strong Indian community is a vital part of multicultural Victoria," he said.
Expressing satisfaction with a Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria survey that said 76 per cent of the 513 respondents were happy with their course and 72 per cent felt safe in the areas where they work and study, Brumby, however, said assaults on Indian students in Melbourne were a cause of great concern to him.
"There have been some disturbing incidents, and some of these incidents have had racist elements. Such racism begins and ends with a small number of bigoted, narrow-minded idiots. It is not part of our state, as evidenced by the thousands of Victorians who marched through city streets at the Harmony Walk last year. We have worked hard to bring down the crime rate, and Victoria is Australia's safest state. But I have said the rate of assaults is too high and action is being taken on assaults, whatever their motivation," he said.
Brumby said that the Chief Police Commissioner has said his force will focus on crime hot-spots.
"We are providing them with additional powers to search for weapons, move people on from trouble spots and fine people on the spot for disorderly conduct. Sentencing laws have been amended so that judges can take into account hatred for, or prejudice against, a particular group when sentencing offenders. The Police Indian Western Reference Group has been established to identify, implement and monitor strategies to engage police and Indian communities to reduce the risk of crime," he said.
"We have also established a 24-hour international student care service, an international student welcome booth at Melbourne Airport and increased funding for the Indian International Student Advisory Service. Any attack in our community is an attack upon us all. An attack motivated by race or prejudice is particularly disgraceful," he added.
The federal and Victorian governments have been as one on this issue. (ANI)