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AASW decries recent vilification of the Sudanese community in Melbourne

Published: 26 July 2018

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is deeply concerned by the continuing vilification of the Sudanese community in Victoria by some of our political leaders.

AASW Victorian Branch President Glenda Kerridge said, "These divisive and misleading comments are deeply concerning to the AASW members in Victoria.

“Youth offending is a complex social issue, which requires a strong community led response focussed on early intervention, diversion and rehabilitation. According to Crime Statistics Agency Victoria, the majority of South Sudanese children and young people in Victoria are not involved in offending and those who are require a targeted and supportive approach to reduce their involvement with the criminal justice system.

“Many social workers in Victoria are working with children, young people, families and communities to address the underlying causes of offending. Further stigmatising these young people and incorrectly labelling the issue as a ‘gang’ issue will not reduce crime in our communities,” she said.

According to the Crime Statistics Agency, Sudanese-born Victorians make up 0.1 per cent of the population and commit 1 per cent of crime in the state.

AASW National President Christine Craik said, “These statistics show that the recent comments about Sudanese ‘gangs’ are distorting the reality of crime in Victoria. Appealing to racism for political gain is appalling. Recent comments by the most senior politicians in our country are not just unhelpful to addressing underlying problems, they contribute to them. We know demonising ‘groups’ rather than seeing and treating people as individual human beings, creates a culture which fosters fear and discrimination, further entrenching the disadvantage of people who are trying to integrate into a new country.

“It feeds into the indifference some Australians have towards migrants, and refugees in particular, especially if politicians feed the unsubstantiated perceptions that allowing refugees to live here will lead to more crime and ‘gangs’. Social workers are only too aware of the impact that these kinds of targeted generalisations and misrepresentations can have on communities.

“Knowing the damage these comments can do, the AASW calls on all political leaders to consider the impact their words are having on the community," she said.

ENDS

Media contact
Angela Yin
Communications Lead
P 03 9320 1005 M 0413 532 954

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers