Race discrimination in Australia at worst levels: Official

Canberra, April 23 (IANS) Race discrimination in Australia is at its worst levels in years, a top official said on Monday.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said that panic over African gangs in Melbourne had prompted the worst ever prejudice and racism he has witnessed during his tenure, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The panic about African youth crime has undoubtedly done significant damage to racial harmony in Melbourne and Australian society more generally,” he told the media.

“There is never anything to be gained from focusing excessively on ethnicity and race around discussions around crime – there is very little to be gained from having race-based panic.”

Soutphommasane said that federal politicians were exacerbating the discord for their own personal gain.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton drew criticism in 2017 when he claimed that Melbourne residents were avoiding going out after dark for fear of being targeted by African gangs.

“The most dangerous thing for politicians to do is to single out a particular community and direct hostility towards them,” Soutphommasane said.

Data released by Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency earlier in April revealed that 84 per cent of chronic criminal offenders in the state were born in Australia.

Overall, Victoria’s crime rate dropped 9.9 per cent in 2017.

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