Australian govt in damage control mode

Australian govt in damage control mode

A high-level Australian delegation, currently visiting India to strengthen the educational relationship between the two nations, arrived in Bangalore on Saturday, with a promise that it’s government plans to revisit legislations to ensure that the rights of international students are protected.

That’s only for starters. On the cards, also include developing a comprehensive international students’ strategy, besides additional security to enhance the well being and safety of overseas students in general, and Indians in particular.

For Australia, there is a lot at stake. At present, there are about one lakh Indian students studying in Australia, that’s 20 per cent of the total number of international students in the country.

Not racial

In an interaction with reporters in Bangalore, delegation leader Colin Walters, a senior official from the Australian Department of Education, claimed that the attacks on Indian students were not racial but was the work of opportunistic criminals.

Walters pointed out that most Indian students use their work permits to seek jobs as taxi drivers or clerks in convenience stores that are open late nights, making them more vulnerable to theft-related attacks.

However, the perpetrators of the crime had been brought to book. As a confidence building measure, the Australian government plans to review its Education Services of Overseas Act -2000 to strengthen the education quality framework and safety and rights of international students.

The new provisions will also impose higher penalties on perpetrators of crime. The review process will commence this month and the amended legislation will be in place by the end of the year.

The government plans to subsidise housing and transport facilities for students to ensure they stay near campuses, thus preventing the general trend of students seeking accommodation in far-flung places to save on money. The government will also support greater level of interaction between international students and local communities including engaging them through social and sporting events.

Safety measures

On the measures taken to ensure the security of students, Paul Evans, Assistant Commissioner Victoria Police, said patrolling has been increased including night air-surveillance in crime-prone cities like Melbourne, where the maximum number of attacks on the Indians took place. Deployment of detectives and policemen had been increased.
To a query, on whether the attacks had resulted in a dip in number of Indian students seeking admission in Australia, Walters said, it was too early to have a say on the issue.

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