Racism has no place in our community

AN unacceptable example of racism was revealed in the south-west this week.

Four offenders repeatedly made pre-meditated rock and egg-throwing attacks on Asian workers, their Warrnambool homes and cars. Details of more than 30 different attacks were documented during a hearing in Warrnambool on Thursday.

One man, 20, intends pleading guilty to 19 charges and three others, all aged under 18, are also admitting their crimes.

Magistrate Cynthia Toose summed up the community’s attitude, denouncing the actions of those involved. “It’s just so inappropriate – vigilantism and pack mentality. It’s absolutely shameless behaviour,” she said.

The magistrate rightly rejected an application for the case to be downgraded to a diversion hearing, suggesting she was considering a jail term when the matter returned to her court next week. The community will expect a tough penalty.

The acts were abhorrent. Hard-working people feared for their safety for about a year while the sustained attacks happened.

Acts like these should not be tolerated anywhere, let alone Warrnambool, where we pride ourselves on being a welcoming, supportive and caring community.

The actions of these four dealt a blow to all of us, who have hoped attitudes like theirs don’t exist in our community.

Thankfully they are a small minority.

But why do these attitudes exist?

Is it because of the work the victims do? Is it jealousy because they are making something of their lives and participating in the community? Is it because of ignorance?

One reason, a solicitor said, was that they did not like Asians. Why?

We love what they add to our culture, food, diversity; we need overseas tourism, Asian export markets for our milk products and overseas students at our university. As a community, we need to dig deeper to understand this dislike and address it. 

We cannot tolerate this sort of behaviour. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated.

History is littered with racial acts that have rocked the foundations of communities. But generally, the human spirit finds a way to overcome them. This week’s shocking example highlights we have to educate those that don’t understand we should all be treated equally. They have also reminded us we need to show compassion and tolerance for others regardless of race and religion. Our actions will speak louder than words.