Actually, Deb, I was talking to a friend yesterday about how the problems of racism could best be tackled. (We have lots of these sorts of discussions, don't we?) After quite a lengthy discussion, I came to the conclusion that (of course!) there are no quick fixes. And the "solutions" need to be addressed with both short and long term strategies.
(I'm talking about Melbourne here, because this is the community I know best.) First step (as Peter Cosgrove advocated a couple of days ago) it is time to stop denying that the motives for some (at the very least) of these attacks on Indians a racist. We need to acknowledge that before the community can even attempt to find any real solutions.
In the short term, we need a far more determined effort on the part of the authorities to police the "known trouble spots" .. we all know where they are & it's not much good to having police blitzes at say, Footscray railway station, from time to time. Constant policing is what's needed, not just after yet another ugly "incident".
Finding long term "solutions" is a far more complex & a far more expensive proposition. Just about all of the "known" locations, the usual trouble trouble spots, are in communities with entrenched disadvantage
. These are the affordable locations where each wave of new migrants/refugees often choose to settle, because housing is affordable. (Taking the example of Footscray, as a result of constant migrant settlement, it changed dramatically over the years, first into a hugely Vietnamese community, followed by a huge influx of Sudanese/Somali migrants, followed by ...) The thing is, such a huge influx of these new migrants on a regular basis (who often have nowhere near enough support) has compounded
already existing community stresses & strains, by adding even more disadvantage to the existing
disadvantage ... including even higher levels of unemployment as a result of the recession.
(Sorry to go on for so long, it's complicated ....) When you have established pockets like these you are going to have trouble. They are a recipes
for trouble. Apart from everything else, so many unemployed young men, with not much hope or direction in life. (I'm talking about both established "Australian & also many of the new arrivals.) This is where the youth gangs establish themselves, this is where drug & alcohol problems are rife, this is where young people drop out of school early, these are areas where the stretched-to-the-limit, "under-performing" schools are, these are the areas with stretched community resources of every conceivable variety .... I could go on & on ...
What I am saying is that it is high time that both state & federal governments made some real effort to address the problems of these communities. I am talking about actually providing these communities with the resources that are actually required to address such severe disadvantage. Specifically targetted
policies & funding. Very tall order, I know. But you cannot have these ghettos of poverty, ignorance, disadvantage & hopelessness without expecting something to eventually
give. These communities are dealing with issues that most of us have never experienced, say nothing of comprehend
. No way am I excusing or apologizing for acts of racism, but I do "get" the underlying causes of much of it, I think. Racist attacks are just a part of a much bigger problem in these communities.