Daniel Halliday
Jan 13 · Last update 4 mo. ago.
What is behind Melbourne’s “African gang violence” debate?
Despite being named the 5th safest city in the world in 2017 Melbourne has been at the centre of a debate regarding African crinimal gangs, which has sparked heated debate and fed into social tensions in Australia. But what is behind this so called wave of violent crime?
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Politicians are scaremongering to push their own agenda
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African Australians are discriminated against
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The media are making it worse
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Politicians are scaremongering to push their own agenda

This debate seems to have reached such national proportions when Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton mentioned on a Sydney radio station in early 2018 that residents in Melbourne were scared to eat out at night as they are followed home by gangs. He seems to be getting some particularly horrible home invasion stories in Melbourne and taken his individual opinions to represent the feeling of the majority in Melbourne without any factual basis. His well publicised opinions were met with a sardonic backlash from many in Melbourne while they also seemed to provide ammunition for the Australian far-right across the country.

Peter Dutton is a right-wing populist politician of Australia’s Liberal Party. Dutton’s opinions have often led to a significant backlash and have even gone as far as supporting a ‘white genocide’ conspiracy theory, which he and Donald Trump have both been accused to promoting despite its ridiculousness. Such an extreme right wing voice will largely benefit from encouraging debates such as this regardless of the truth of the matter, as this misinformed narrative speaks to many in the Australian far-right and makes politicians like Dutton stand to gain from their support. Moreover Dutton seems to be pushing his own opinion rather than accurately speaking on behalf of the majority of people in Melbourne, and given his history and harshly conservative views he seems happy to twist facts to support his distinctly populist far-right agenda.

theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/15/duttons-citizenship-plan-attacked-by-australian-human-rights-commission smh.com.au/politics/federal/victorians-scared-to-go-to-restaurants-at-night-because-of-street-gang-violence-peter-dutton-20180103-h0cvu4.html qz.com/1367287/donald-trump-wants-to-help-south-africas-white-farmers

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Daniel Halliday
May 7
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DH edited this paragraph
This debate seems to have reached such national proportions when Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton mentioned on a Sydney radio station in early 2018 that residents in Melbourne were scared to eat out at night as they are followed home by gangs. He seems to be getting some particularly horrible home invasion stories in Melbourne and taken his individual opinions to represent the feeling of the majority in Melbourne without any factual basis. His well publicised opinions were met with a sardonic backlash from many in Melbourne while they also seemed to provide ammunition for the Australian far-right across the country.
African Australians are discriminated against

The news stories that have caused the debate over African gangs in Melbourne are often anecdotal or citing one-off incidents such as the 200 person brawl in the suburb of Collingwood in 2018 or statistically uncommon home invasions. Many of the African Australian population are young refugees who are seeking asylum in Australia due to ongoing destabilisation in their home country, such as the civil war in South Sudan. Being young and having experienced civil warfare in their home country it is important for Australia to not marginalise or single out these individuals, but try and offer them greater support in acclimatising and integrating.

You may expect levels of crime to be higher in such communities, due to surviving traumatic events or as a result of unemployment, but there is not a clear statistical pattern of this, and there is a distinct lack of relevant detailed statistics being used by those who are perpetuating the debate. From Melbourne’s crime statistics somewhat of a disproportionate amount of the South Sudanese, who make up 0.1% of Mebourne’s population, commit 1% of crimes (and 10% aggravated robberies). These statistics may be slightly over representative for their population but still remain a small part of the overall crime in Melbourne and less than other immigrant populations, such as those from the UK. Considering also that more than half of African migrants reported experiencing some form of discrimination in Australia, especially in regards to contact with the police, the picture becomes increasingly complex.

theage.com.au/national/victoria/crime-rate-down-but-home-invasion-victims-never-forget-20180315-p4z4ke.html abc.net.au/news/2018-09-05/fact-check-sudanese-gangs-victoria/10187550 theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/african-migrants-australia-report-worst-discrimination-scanlon-report

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Daniel Halliday
May 7
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DH edited this paragraph
The news stories that have caused the debate over African gangs in Melbourne are often anecdotal or citing one-off incidents such as the 200 person brawl in the suburb of Collingwood in 2018 or statistically uncommon home invasions. Many of the African Australian population are young refugees who are seeking asylum in Australia due to ongoing destabilisation in their home country, such as the civil war in South Sudan. Being young and having experienced civil warfare in their home country it is important for Australia to not marginalise or single out these individuals, but try and offer them greater support in acclimatising and integrating.
The media are making it worse

The media in Australia are feeding the far-right and ignorance in Australia by often utilising misinformation. The media's job should be to look into statistics and break the real story down for people, however the media in Australia are often pushing an agenda and neglecting statistics and data altogether, preferring to focus on singular events and personal accounts. The debate surround African gangs in Melbourne seems to have been broken down by the international media despite many Australian news agencies failing to do so.

While this may not be a problem that is limited to Australian news media it is having very real world problems here such as this where it is acting as a misrepresentation of the facts and could constitute fake news. The federal government, the left-leaning Labour party and the police have all resisted labelling the crimes reported on in the media as gang related, claiming those responsible and the crimes themselves do not fit the profile of organised crime. Furthermore the police and federal government have repeatedly presented crime statistics, which show Melbourne’s crime level has remained stable.

theconversation.com/why-the-media-are-to-blame-for-racialising-melbournes-african-gang-problem-100761 huffpost.com/entry/african-gang-australia_n_5a581026e4b04df054f77f7e?guccounter=1

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Daniel Halliday
May 7
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DH edited this paragraph
While this may not be a problem that is limited to Australian news media it is having very real world problems here such as this where it is acting as a misrepresentation of the facts and could constitute fake news. The federal government, the left-leaning Labour party and the police have all resisted labelling the crimes reported on in the media as gang related, claiming those responsible and the crimes themselves do not fit the profile of organised crime. Furthermore the police and federal government have repeatedly presented crime statistics, which show Melbourne’s crime level has remained stable.
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