POST 70: MIGRANT YOUTH IN AUSTRALIA – IS THERE A PROBLEM?

Introduction

In 2017 migrant youth and gang activity reached a pressure point in Victoria. The Federal government set up a committee to address anti social behaviour and gang activity. Address it they did not.

Last Sept a horrific brawl between feuding Sudanese gangs broke out in Brisbane. One man was killed, ten people ended up in hospital.

On Boxing Day, a Perth suburb was plunged into lockdown, over 100 youth wielding metal poles clashing with police.

What do Australia’s population and crime statistics reveal?

In December 2019, Australian Bureau of Statistics crime data revealed a disturbing statistic. The Sudanese born imprisonment rate is 929.7 per 100,000 people, more than 3 times that of Australian born at 278.9. Yet Sudanese nationals make up less than 1 % of the Australian population. See Table 1 below.

Table 1 Australian Imprisonment rates and country of birth.

Country of Birth 2019Persons% of Australian populationImprisonment rate per 100,000
Australia 17,835,190.0070.3%278.9
Sudan 28,840.000.11%929.7
Total Australian Population 25,365,570.00100%218.6

(Source: ABS Migration Australia and ABS Prisoners in Australia,)

Note. Reference period for population data country of birth is 2018-19 financial year. Reference period for imprisonment rates is 2018-19 financial year.

There is clearly a problem with the Sudanese population and their behaviour in Australia, as testified by Table 1. The Sudanese groups are not homogenous; the population and crime data in Table 1 refers to Sudan and South Sudan people. There are 60 different ethnic groups in South Sudan and tensions exist in some of the largest groups.

Brief history of Sudan’s raging violence

On July 9, 2011 the Republic of South Sudan formally came into existence.

There has been a brutal civil war in Sudan since 2013 as many as 50,000 people have been killed.

What we maybe witnessing in Australia amongst Sudanese gangs and there brutal violent behaviour suggest tensions carried over from their homeland. To add more fire to an already volatile situation there is a religious element to factor in.

Christian groups in the US have long championed the cause of the South Sudanese in their struggle against the Muslim Sudan government in the north.

Policy options

For starters Australia’s humanitarian program clearly needs to put in place much stronger vetting methods, particularly in regions stricken by civil war, ethnic violence and religious turmoil.

We also encourage Australian politicians to get on with the job of strengthening the character test and making the country safer from overseas criminals. A parliamentary committee has recommended that a bill on a strengthened character test for visa applicants be passed in the Senate.

Immigration Minister David Coleman argues, “This bill ensures that non-citizens who have been convicted of serious offences, and who pose a risk to the safety of the Australian community, are appropriately considered for visa refusal or cancellation”.

At Population Research WA, we strongly support the capping of the current refugee program at 13,750 places. The levels were increased in recent years. But with problems of high imprisonment rates of people from regions involved in extremely violent civil wars. The current level may be to high. And consider lowering the number of permanent grants for the 2021-22 refugee program should form part of policy considerations. This needs to explored given that Australia is experiencing high levels of imprisonment rates from foreign born nationals.

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