Alex Bhathal is a proud and active member of Australia’s rapidly growing and diverse Indian community.
“Because of my background in social work, I’ve often been called on to assist people within the community, most often with migration related issues, but a few years ago, at the beginning of 2007, I realised that something disturbing was occurring. I was being rung at all times of the day and night by desperate young people, who needed urgent help for themselves or for friends who had been violently assaulted.
“My take on this situation is that our federal and state governments in Australia were driven to capitalise on a burgeoning international education market in India, but failed in their duty to think ahead and plan for the needs of these students and for the social impacts resulting from the arrival of 100,000 young people in Australia’s cities.”
In 2009, thanks to her work helping different community organisations design multiculturalism programs and access funds to implement them, Alex was approached to work on The Community Safety of International Students in Melbourne: A Scoping Study, Victoria’s first study into international student community safety. This study was commissioned by Victoria University, and headed by Australian social researcher Professor Hurriyet Babacan.
The Indian community in Australia, which comprises up to 350,000 people – making it the second largest non-Anglo community in Australia after Chinese-born Australians – urgently needs a coordinated approach to its meet its social and legal advocacy needs, and this is one of Alex’s priorities.