Mr.Simon Overland, Chief Commissioner of Victoria, today declared that racist attacks won't be tolerated, but also counselled Indian students to take precautions to escape the thugs.
Addressing a group of international students, he told them the police were committed to their safety and called on them to report incidents.
AdvertisementHe said while racism had a part to play in some attacks on international and particularly Indian students, travelling late at night on public transport, working high-risk jobs such as in convenience stores and living in low socio-economic areas put them at risk.
"Some of what we are seeing is about racism, some of it isn't,'' he said and declared,
"Racism is to be absolutely condemned. We do not condone it, we do not support it, we will not tolerate it.''
Mr Overland, who acknowledged students often didn't have a choice about where they lived and the hours they worked, called on students not to reveal any valuables such as iPods and jewellery when travelling at night and to travel in groups.
He said international students, particularly Indians, were over-represented in burglary statistics, but no other crime categories.
He said Melbourne's permanent Indian population was not over-represented in crime statistics.
"The standing Indian population don't live in those high risk areas, they don't necessarily use public transport," he said.
Australia India Society of Victoria vice president Manjula O'Connor said many Indian people were afraid of being attacked.
"People, in fact, are now fearful of going out. The Indian people are fearful of going out," she said.
"The fear is spreading across the community."
Dr O'Connor, who is a psychiatrist, recounted to the crowd an anecdote involving a patient who was attacked in his Sunshine home. She said that when he went to the police, the constable did not even take down his details.
"There is this feeling amongst the Indian community there is a cover-up going on," Dr O'Connor said.
Australian Federation of International Students president Wesa Chau said in many instances attacks were not reported due to victims' mistrust of police.
Mr Overland urged international students to go to the police if they experienced problems.
"I know there are issues of trust but if you don't tell us, if you're not prepared to come forward and tell us, then there is little that we can actually do about it," he said.
Crime on Melbourne's rail network was falling, Mr Overland said.
"The level of robberies on the rail network is down. The problem then moved to the railway stations ... in areas where Indian students are living," he said.
"Now the pattern that we're seeing is that robberies are occurring within about a three-kilometre radius of certain railway stations where there is a concentration of Indian students and other international students living."
Mr Overland said police planned to flood the public transport system from next month, with the establishment of an Operations Response Unit.