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Victoria Premier meets Indian envoy, reassures her about Indian students safety

Melbourne, May 29 (ANI): The Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, John Brumby today met with Indian High Commissioner Sujatha Singh and Consul General of India Anita Nayar to discuss the safety and security of the Indian community in Victoria.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Brumby said the discussions had centered on the safety and security of Victoria’s Indian student community and further measures that may be required to ensure their experience of living, studying and working in Victoria was a successful and enjoyable experience.

“It was a pleasure to meet Mrs. Singh and Ms Nayar, and our discussions were very positive and productive,” Brumby said.

“Our discussions were about safety and security within Victoria’s Indian community, including what measures our Government and police have in place to ensure safety and what further measures may be required to make sure that Victoria continues to be the first-choice destination for Indian students.

“It’s important to note that on the whole Victoria is a wonderful place for Indian students and we want every Indian student who comes to Victoria to have that experience.

“The vast majority of Victorians welcome Indian students to our state but, we do recognize that there are some times and places where Indian students are more vulnerable and that’s a concern we’ve been working to resolve.

“We agree that while the overall rate of crime in Victoria is low compared to other jurisdictions, any incidence of crime or violence against a member of Victoria’s Indian community is one too many, completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

“We are a community built on the understanding that we may come from different and races, follow many faiths and different cultures – but we are all equal and our community is richer because of our multicultural make-up. Any attack on an individual because of race, culture, gender or appearance is disgraceful and unacceptable.”

Brumby said attacking any individual is abhorrent to the values and principles that made Victoria among the world’s most successful multicultural communities.

“That’s why our Government introduced the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act and that’s why Victoria Police is working hard with our Indian community to tackle incidents of crime and violence,” he said.

“Last year our Government established an Overseas Student Experience Taskforce which examined a range of issues, including safety.  The task force released a report in late December that included a number of recommendations that the Government is closely examining.

“But we recognize that there is more that can be done and we will look at whether there needs to be changes to make it easier to access information or legislative changes to ensure penalties are matching the severity of a crime.

“With this in mind we will be announcing new measures in the near future to improve the overseas student experience, particularly with respect to safety.”

In addition, Victoria Police is also working to tackle issues together with the Indian community, he said.

In a separate statement, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Julia Gillard said she was deeply saddened and shocked by the attack on a group of Indian students in Melbourne over the weekend and condemned it unreservedly.

“I would like to extend my sympathies to the victims of this callous attack. I want to reiterate my statement before Parliament on Tuesday that the Australian Government will not tolerate victimisation and violence against international students. Such attacks violate the fundamental Australian values of tolerance and respect for diversity in our society,” she said.

“The Victorian Police are investigating this serious crime. On the information I have, two people have been interviewed and one has been charged with assault-related offences and is currently in custody on remand. I note also that two alleged attackers have been arrested in relation to an incident involving an Indian student on a train in Melbourne on 9 May 2009,” she added.

“I can assure you that the perpetrators of recent attacks in both Sydney and Melbourne will face the full force of the law and I will be working closely with the Victorian and New South Wales State Governments to ensure every effort is made to minimize the possibility of such attacks in the future,” Gillard said.

She said that the Australian Government would be convening a round table to discuss issues affecting international students and student safety soon. (ANI)

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