Sydney, May 20 (ANI): Australia's Department of Immigration has released the identities of half a million foreign students from India, China, South Korea, Malaysia and the United States to police across the country as it tries to find if any attacks against them were racially motivated.
Australian Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis is relaxing strict laws to release information identifying current and former foreign students to the state and territory police.
This follows a request by the Institute of Criminology to conduct research into whether foreign students were more likely to be victims of crime than similarly aged Australians.
Curtis said the release by the Department of Immigration of students' names and ages was a one-off decision in the national interest, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"The research will give the Australian government an accurate picture of crime statistics involving international students and help formulate an appropriate policy and law enforcement response," she said.
Enrolments of Indian students are down by 40 per cent this year after Indian students were attacked.
The author of the federal government report on foreign students, Bruce Baird, wrote in February: "It is regrettable that our police forces are either unwilling or unable to share accurate information about the prevalence of attacks on particular ethnic groups or the number of attacks in which race plays a role."
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith had announced in March that the research by the Australian Institute of Criminology is to establish a better understanding of the attacks.
The honorary president of the Australian Federation of International Students, Wesa Chau, hoped the study would distinguish between racially motivated and opportunistic crime.
"The study can be a positive step if done properly. They need to ensure the data released isn't used to target students over their visas," she said. (ANI)