Recently in Melbourne, we have heard much about Sudanese gangs. As the new boogeyman, we are encouraged to fear them. Australia’s minister for immigration, Peter Dutton, has publically stated that Victorian’s are too scared to go out due to of a fear of African gangs. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.
As leader of this country, I thought that Prime Minister Turnball would take a more measured approach. Being the head of the liberal party I didn’t expect him to completely dismiss his minister. What I did expect though, was that maybe, just maybe, he would try to be a little more responsible. Maybe he would provide some context and tone it down a little in an attempt to maintain social cohesion. I was wrong.
After a warning by the Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commissioner, Kristen Hilton, against “racially divisive statements” the government didn’t back down. Turnball defended his minister, claiming that “there is a real concern about Victorian gangs” and going on to say that “you’d have to be walking around with your hands over your ears in Melbourne not to hear it”.
As a Victorian who evidently walks around with her hands over her ears, I can honestly say that I have never actually come across anybody who expressed any fear towards Sudanese migrants. Personally, the only fear I’ve felt towards Sudanese migrants has been that of their prowess on the football field. What I have seen, however, is a lot of eye rolling and frustration towards a government who are dealing with this issue recklessly.
Even if there is a small minority who genuinely feel this fear, this needs to be dealt with appropriately. Instead of allaying their fears this government has preferred to capitalise on them. Instead of decreasing the tensions they have elected to fuel them. Instead of leading responsibly they have chosen to betray those they are meant to represent.
Last week a 14-year-old Sudanese boy walking home from school was viciously attacked. He was stabbed twice for no other reason than his African heritage, an attack which the media has chosen to largely ignore. Where are racially divisive headlines when the victim is of African heritage? Where is the hysteria and hyperbole? Where are the inflammatory government statements? Sadly this boy was not only a victim of a cowardly attack, this boy was also a victim of the betrayal of his leaders.
Leaders are those who set the standard. Good leaders promote unity and cohesion among those they represent. Bad leaders create discord and unrest. Turnball and Dutton, you both have blood on your hands.