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AFRICAN MIGRANTS

Thoughts and Reflections on African Migration and Settlement in Australia.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

POLICING THE MIGRANTS

The phenomenon of African migration and settlement in Australia, in recent years, has led to a significant change not only in the types of services provided to the new residents but also in the planning and sequencing of service delivery all over Australia.

In terms of the maintenance of law and order, for example, a new type of multicultural policing that is more sensitive to the needs of the new migrants and refugees has emerged in urban Australia. But there are a number of obstacles to effective policing , due to cultural and language barriers.

Now. Enter the Tasmanian police force. A recent issue of the Tasmanian “Mercury” newspaper reports that the Tasmanian police service officers will soon be carrying a multilingual phrase book "as they walk the beat", in an attempt to facilitate effective communication with the new arrivals.

The objective is to develop a more civilized relationship between the police service officers and migrants; thereby bridging the cultural and language gap - a good news to those who are trying to make sense of their new environment. Other states in the Federation might adopt the Tasmanian model.

According to the Mercury, the little phrase book will include seven key questions in 31 languages. Those questions may take the following forms: “Do you need help? You are not under arrest. I just want to find out more about what happened” and more importantly; “Please accompany me to the police station and I will contact an interpreter”.

How is that for a New Age policing strategy?

It is widely acknowledged that migrants who experience torture and all types of brutality either in the hands of the police or the military officers in their homeland are often apprehensive of the men and women in uniform (even in the new environment) long after they left their country of origin.

Thus, given the new sensibility in migrants-police relations, African migrants and refugees have absolutely nothing to fear; they don’t have to worry about police brutality anymore because the Australian police officers are more culturally sensitive and likable than police officers elsewhere in the world.

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