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Foreign students say race is a factor in atta -

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ELEANOR HALL: One of Victoria's major universities today released a report into the safety of its
international students. It comes as recent violence against Indian students in Melbourne has made
headlines around the world.

Victoria University researchers surveyed more than 1,500 students and released their results this

Samantha Donovan has been speaking to researchers and she joins us now.

So Sam, what did the researchers find?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Well, Eleanor one of the big questions arising from the attacks on Indian
students has been whether they were motivated by racism or were they simply opportunistic attacks
or robberies?

Five hundred and fifteen overseas students were interviewed in detail on this and I should point
out not just Indian students. About 50 per cent said that when they felt their safety was
threatened that their race or religion was a factor and that includes everything from an experience
of rudeness to abuse or to physical assault.

About 49 per cent of the overseas students said they did feel unsafe in Melbourne and the report
backed up some of the findings we have already been hearing about in this debate - things like
working and travelling late at night, living in less safe areas and poor transport options are all
contributing to international students feeling less safe than their domestic counterparts.

ELEANOR HALL: Was there any indication of the students' attitudes to the police?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Many of the students reported that the police weren't very helpful or were
racist. That was their feeling at least and researchers also found that a lack of understanding of
the Australian legal system perhaps contributed to that. For example some students who had been a
victim of crime couldn't understand how the assailants could be out on bail. That concept was very
foreign to them.

Another finding was that many students felt that bystanders didn't help them if they were being
attacked or abused and that contributed to students feeling that Melbourne was an uncaring or even
a racist place.

ELEANOR HALL: And did the researchers also talk to the police?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Yes, they did. Victoria Police had extensive involvement in this study and
researchers were adamant that the force was very cooperative. The release of the report has been
delayed quite a bit and there has been some speculation, including in the Indian media, that the
police were vetting the report and perhaps disputing some of the findings but the researchers
denied that this was the case this morning and said that they didn't change anything in the report
in response to any police concerns.

The interesting thing that comes out from the police point of view is that officers feel it is very
difficult to conclude if an attack is racist or opportunistic.

Associate professor Michelle Grossman was the researcher who looked at this issue in particular.

MICHELLE GROSSMAN: Some police in our study said that they felt or their particular view was that
while an attack might begin as an opportunistic one or the primary intent was opportunistic, that
sometimes racism could enter into that as a kind of secondary element designed to further humiliate
or weaken the resistance of a victim during the course of a robbery or another kind of violent

ELEANOR HALL: That is Victoria University's Associate professor Michelle Grossman and Sam, what are
the recommendations of this report?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: One of the main recommendations is for much more research to be done,
particularly on that issue and one of the recommendations is there for the offenders actually to be

This wasn't done as part of the scoping study so it would be very interesting certainly for the
researchers to get some clarification on that issue of motivation perhaps from people who have been
charged with various offences against international students.

Why did they attack or rob the students and that would help, the researchers say, police develop
strategies to better address the problem.

The report is also recommended more proactive community policing programs and it also suggests that
federal and state governments position themselves as what the report calls advocates for the
elimination of racism.

ELEANOR HALL: Samantha Donovan in Melbourne, thank you. That is Samantha Donovan on that Victoria
university report.