A report into the incidence of assault and robbery crimes against overseas students in Australia between 2005- 2009 has been released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). Crimes against international students in Australia: 2005–09 Jacqueline Joudo Larsen, Jason Payne, Adam Tomison
A key part of the Australian Institute of Criminology’s role is to provide a capacity to investigate new and evolving crimes and in the past two years, there has been significant interest in determining the nature and extent to which international students studying in Australia are victims of crime.
Detailed findings are provided from what is the most comprehensive student victimisation study ever conducted in Australia, based on an analysis of Department of Immigration and Citizenship international student visa records for more than 400,000 students matched with police crime victimisation records. In addition, supplementary analysis of the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) database, as well as the Australian component of the 2004 International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS), are used to provide additional context to the AIC’s investigation.
The Australian Government takes very seriously any allegations that people are being criminally victimised. In 2010 the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, announced that the AIC would conduct independent research into crimes against overseas students with particular reference to crime rates against Indian students.
This is the first major study of its kind in Australia.
AIC Director Adam Tomison said: “This ground-breaking analysis data-matched 418,294 students from five source countries with police victim records over the five years. The nature of the data did not allow the AIC to engage in specific analysis of racial motivation. That said, there was nothing in the overall findings that lends support to the view that Indian students have been singled out primarily for racial reasons.”
Key findings show:
- Rates of assault for Indian students were lower than or on par with rates for the general Australian population.
- Rates of robbery against Indian students were higher than average for Australians in larger states for most years.
- The proportion of robberies against Indian students occurring at commercial locations was approximately double that recorded for students from other countries.
- Over half of robberies against Indian students on commercial premises occurred at service stations.
“Robbery is an opportunistic crime. The higher rates of robbery against Indian students, compared with other international students, and Australian comparison populations, appeared to be more likely to occur because of a range of factors: in particular, differences in employment, with large numbers of Indian students working in higher-risk employment (taxi driving and in convenience/fast food stores and service stations), working evening/night shifts and use of public transport”, says the report.
Primarily, this research was designed to provide the best available estimation of the extent to which international students have been the victims of crime during their time in Australia and to determine whether international students are more or less likely than an Australian comparison population to have experienced crime.
This report provides the best available estimation of the extent to which international students have been the victims of crime during their time in Australia and has enabled the rate of recorded crimes experienced by international students from the five largest source countries (People’s Republic of China, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the United Stated) to be compared with the rate for Australian reference populations. While this research has not answered the question of whether attacks against overseas students are racially motivated, the findings from this research do point to other factors such as employment and the use of public transport, that influence the risk or likelihood of overseas students experiencing crime. This provides direction for crime prevention efforts to reduce the risk of crime for this population.
This report represents the culmination of the AIC’s research into crimes against international students. The publication is available on the AIC’s website www.aic.gov.au.