Attacks and aftermath was double whammy for Indians: report

Not only were Indians hit by a series of assaults in Australia in 2009, they also suffered from solutions devised to the problem when visa rules were tightened, plunging many a students' future into uncertainty.

A high level taskforce has observed that thousands of Indian students were affected after the attack crisis that forced the Australian government to announce tighter visa rules, including axing the then popular courses like cookery and hairdressing from its occupational list.

The Australia Indian Institute (AII) report 'Beyond the Lost Decades' also quoted an unidentified Indian diplomat as saying he had seen reports of "attempted suicides and overstaying of visas by young Indians stranded by the visa changes".

It pinpointed that 'not only were Indians victims of a higher than average rate of assault and robbery on international students in Australia in 2009-10, they also suffered from the solution to the problem'.

"The crisis provoked a wave of inquiries and legislation, which plunged tens of thousands of Indian students into further uncertainty.

"Some provisions were made to help those affected - visa were extended for upto 18 months while students considered their future," it said.

While the grace period later announced by the federal government in 2010 would be expiring this year end, the report suggested many are fearing to be going home without qualifications.

"What will happen come December to the thousands of Indian students and families whose lives and finances have been impacted?," the report has stated.

"Young Indians who overstay their visas and disappear into the community are easy prey for criminal mafias and others who can exploit their vulnerable legal status.

"The report, however, does recommend the federal government to review and extend temporary visas as a 'goodwill gesture' in a bid to be given more time to weigh their options," it said.

It has advocated that a more balanced approach was needed with Australia to do more than just persuade Indians that it was a great place to live, work, study and play by even introducing Indian history, culture and economy in nations school curriculum.

Meanwhile, the Indian diaspora has largely welcomed the new report and said several issues in the report are quite easily addressable in short term basis if executed.

Lauding the AII report, Australia India Business Council- Victoria president Ravi Bhatia said: "There are several matters raised in the report that are quite easily addressable in the short term through executive action.

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