We invited Get Ahead readers to share tips on How not to be attacked in Australia. Here we present a second set of responses from readers who studied in Australia.
General Secretary / Public Officer
Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria
I am writing in the capacity of General Secretary of Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV).
Recently, FIAV in Association with Victoria Police have launched an Initiative Toll Free (Free Call ) (Help Line for International Students ).
The helpline (1 800 342 800) is staffed from 10 am to 5 pm, and 7 pm to 11 pm, Monday to Friday.
This service is currently supported by quiet a few Australian Colleges and Businesses, and Currently operated by Volunteers of Victorian International Students Associations( VISA) and Part time staff of some reputed Colleges in Melbourne.
It is a serious issue and many Australian and Indian community members have condemned the attack.
I appreciate your effort to publish such information in your site.
When I read the previous article, there was a mention about tips and advice urging girls to carry PEPPER SPRAY.
UNDER AUSTRALIAN LAW, IT IS ILLEGAL!
Can you please remove such references, which is going to add more fuel to fire.
There is a task force set up by Victorian Police and is operational for the last 7 months, so let us not publish incorrect and misleading information in the public media.
Currently Indian High Commissioner is having discussions with Authorities, and things will be sorted out, so if you could please remove the reference to use of Pepper spray from the link.
I am studying in Australia and have been here for more than 2 years now. Till now I have never been attacked, yeah I have received some racial comments but I believe that happens in every country and even in a country like India, where we are racist towards our own people. A good example of it is in Mumbai, Maharashtra, where I come from. Let's not get into those issues. I am a outgoing person and I do party a lot outside and I have been faced with circumstances where alcohol takes over people and they become aggressive. What I have realized is Australians are very aggressive when they are drunk. I will advise on issues that I have faced:
My first argument: I got into an argument in a disco with an Australian after I overheard him saying something about Indians. Yes I was under the influence of alcohol, but one thing which people should realise is that like me, many indians have left our country and our families to come over here and make a future for ourselves and not to fight and argue. I know it is a cowardly act if someone tries to instigate you but in Australia what I generally do is, even if it's not my fault, say, 'Mate I'm sorry' and finish the fight or argument and go ahead. It sounds cowardly but we have to be smart -- you will not get anything out of fighting with someone who is drunk.
DO NOT TRAVEL ALONE AT NIGHT IN TRAINS OR SUBWAYS, OR WALK ALONE. IT IS RISKY. BE WITH SOMEONE OR EVEN IF YOU MEET SOME OTHER INDIAN IN THE SAME TRAIN, SIT NEXT TO HIM OR NEXT TO SOMEONE SENSIBLE. It deters people from talking as the unity in numbers effect comes in.
Learn to ignore a few things like racial comments, as you have not come over here to change people or their thinking. The police and government will not take action against their citizens and Indians will be blamed more and their name included in police records, which would make it difficult to obtain a PERMANENT RESIDENCY status.
Think about all the above things at all the times, about your parents and family and then get into a fight. Overall I feel Australians are very good and helpful -- there are some miscreants in every society and no one can do much about them, but the attacks on Indian students are on the rise and some pressure from the Indian Government would really help. Thank you and have a nice day.
If one has that kind of money to study in a foreign land, what is wrong in studying in India when you can get access to top-of-the-line colleges to study? Indians have really smeared their own country's image by mass flocking to foreign lands first to study and than take-up jobs there. Obviously this has given a wrong signal that Indians are gobbling the jobs in foreign countries. Our government should put a stop of approving students going to a foreign land for studies. Also, Indian Government should put an immediate stop to recruiting female candidates to Arab nations, where they are bringing in bad image to be called as prostitutes -- I personally have seen and known that in an Arab country.
I have been living in Melbourne for the last 6 years and I cannot recollect an instance where I had a problem in general.
THREE BASIC THINGS WOULD HELP YOU OUT IN THOSE SITUATIONS.
1. Walking away from a dispute or a brawl doesn't make you a coward -- it makes you sensible.
2. Dont let anything affect your ego -- just walk away if you have a situation and just be calm.
3. Stay away from people who indulge in binge drinking.
4. Always call 000 if you think there is emergency.
5. Try to use buses when you travel late in the night they are safer than trains.
I know you cannot avoid all situations, but this may help to some extent.
If you are alone and someone starts abusing you, don't stay silent in fear. Call for the police loudly and run from the scene. Often the person abusing you turns violent if you are silent and look scared. Report any incident to the first patrolling police you see.
I am currently a student at Deakin University. I am also a Student representative in my university's primary student body. I would advice students not to hang out alone. I would tell them not to carry their iPods, laptops and mobiles when they hang out at night. I would encourage them to attend all the seminars and forums hosted by he welfare officers of the university to get themselves aware of dangers, as prevention is better than cure.
I have been in Australia since February 2007 as a student and am now working fulltime as an accountant.
This might be one typical extremist advice from a student/ immigrant in Melbourne, Australia. I have been in Melbourne since the past 30 months and touch wood, I have never faced any problem with physical assault or mobbing.
The tips I would like to offer would be first of all be aware of the situations. Be aware what suburbs you are staying in and where you are going and what you are doing. There are many situations when we involuntarily breach the environmental peace of a location and then have to bear the brunt of our actions, indeed unknowingly. The way the Indian cab drivers have gained their reputation as dumb and reckless drivers hurts the sentiment of the whole Indian diaspora within Melbourne. DON'T DRIVE A TAXI. And if you do, drive within the rules and dont twist or bend the rules like working over-time (above the stipulated 20 hours -- 90 percent of the taxi drivers do so) and driving like you are driving in India. There are traffic rules in Australia, if you can't follow them, at least respect them.
Second thing would be knowing your suburbs well. Suburbs on the West and North side of the city have the history of majority of such racial attacks. Suburbs like Sunshine, Broadmeadows, Craigeburn, New Market, Footscray and Kensington are supposed to be the most dangerous when it comes to crimes like assaults and shop-lifting. Yes, these are pretty cheap suburbs but not the safest, not by a fair distance. Do not walk alone in these suburbs, definitely not after sun-set, even though it might be a 5 minute walk from the station to your house. Walk in a group and keep our usual shouting and talking on the phone in loud voices to a minimum. Once you are in the safety of your house, do whatever you want, but on the streets, don't initiate any behaviour that would lead to racial behaviour. These suburbs have the highest concentration of jobless people and drug addicts.
Lastly, know your rights and show some guts. Yes, agreed, most of these crimes are done by teenagers and youth under the influence of drugs and alcohol and the Victorian Police are just incapable of dealing with this problem due to racial hatred and compasionate understanding of the criminals, but that does not mean that you cannot defend yourself. The recent attacks on 4 students by 2 teenagers just puts the whole equation in perspective. While Sharath was being physically assaulted by the teenagers, what where his friends doing? Singing songs or running for cover? That is what we as Indians will never learn. It's one for all and all for one. Fight back, at least stand up to protect yourself. That is not criminal but self-defence. Make some Australian friends to understand the mind-set of the people.
Australia is a lovely country and one of the most safe, beautiful and economically and culturally vibrant countries. Why do you think the attacks are never carried out on Chinese or East Asian communities? Learn to satisfy their ego, don't be a show off and stand up. Those three things will help anyone make the most of the opportunities presented to you.
Also dont let the racial discrimination bug bite you. Be fair, one day the society will be fair too.
I moved to Melbourne from Singapore 2 years ago, after working there for 7 years. I'm with an insurance company.
It's frsutrating to hear all these stories about the attacks on Indian students. I would suggest not to just jump to the conclusion that Australia is racist, they are not, they love to party, booze, would like to have a conversation with strangers and most important, they want foreigners to be friendly.
A few points which come to my mind:
1. Let's understand -- Indians have started coming to Australia, specially Melbourne, in a big way only from the last 2 years. Prior to that Australia has seen only Chinese, Greek, Italian migration.
2. Before pointing fingers at others, let's understand ourselves first -- are we comfortable in seeing lots of outsiders in our respective states/ cities, eg Mumbai, Assam etc? No, we aren't -- so why blame Aussie?
3. The best way to settle down in a foreign land in to speak the same language, the same accent, how do you it? Mix with locals, try being friendly with locals, this will help in picking up the accent faster. This will change the circumstances for sure.
4. I'm sure things will settle down very soon, as the students settle with their lives and gel with local culture to an extent.
5. Indian lobby is slowly growing strong and we will be in a more comfortable position as Chinese are here.
6. There are now suburbs in Melburne where we have high Indian prominence, which will help us solve our issues.
7. Indians like any where else like to form their own linguistic/state communities first, then an Indian commuinity, which doesn't help. Remember foreigners see us as Indians rather than Tamil, Hyderabad, Punjabi, Gujarati etc so let's join and participate in Indianness so help comes faster.
8. Indian students must try to find jobs outside the taxi industry -- there are lot of jobs elsewhere. If not, Indians would be seen as taxi drivers rather than intellectuals/ businessmen etc.
9. However, now I can see the students who work in supermarkets, petrol pumps etc speak very well, with confidence.
PS: These were my personal views and I didn't wanted to hurt anybody's sentiments. Cheers.
I study at Macquarie University, Sydney and have started a blog to help Indian students coming to Australia.
A-Z of studying in Australia has been covered. It feels bad to hear about such incidents. I have written the following on http://studentlife-downunder.blogspot.com.
This is my article on avoiding getting caught in racial attacks:
There is no denying the fact that there is always a moderate risk of you facing a racial attack while studying and living in Australia. Unlike the US, there is no 'Gun Culture' in the land down under. However, racial attacks could be verbal or an actual physical assault. A racial attack could be some one screaming foul words at you or could be a very heavy physical assault which could result in physical injury and emotional trauma. It is your duty to be safe and stay away from such attacks.
1. While travelling late at nights, it is best if you board the guards compartment in the train.
2. If travelling by bus, you could possibly sit as close to the driver's seat as possible.
3. Do not carry a lot of money with you/ do not show the power of your bank balance by flashing money or your wallet openly.
4. Do not flash your iPod or iPhone or laptop or other gadgets too much in public.
5. Travel with a friend or group of friends if possible
6. Avoid wearing traditional clothing and speaking in your native language (loudly).
7. Don't hesitate to call the cops if you feel you could be in trouble.
8. Always have a list of emergency contacts in your diary and phone (which should also mention your blood group). It could actually be a good idea if you knew some form of self defense like Karate or Taekwondo. However, this is not a must. You should be fine if you follow the above precautions.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
If you have studied in Australia and have tips to share with other readers on how to avoid being attacked, please do e-mail us at email@example.com with the subject line Avoiding racial attacks. Your name and identity will not be disclosed unless you want it to be revealed.