Immigrants as victims of crime and criminal justice discourse in Australia

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Journal Article
International Review of Victimology, 2007, 14 (1), pp. 57 - 79
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Issues related to immigrants as criminals or victims of crime resonate strongly in Australia because it has a relatively larger and more diverse immigrant population than most western countries. Focussing on Sydney, the aim of this article is to explore a number of aspects of immigrant victimology in Australia: immigrants as victims of crime; as victims of the fear of crime; as victims of racial abuse and violence in the aftermath of the 11th of September, 2001; and as victims of media discourses about ‘ethnic crime’. To do this the article draws on national and international research into immigrant crime and immigrant victimology and on two sources of primary data: a Sydney survey of 825 youth and adults (eighty per cent of whom were immigrant minorities) and data from a Hotline established in Sydney in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The paper provides evidence of each dimension of immigrant victimology and concludes that there has been a disproportionate focus on, and fear of, immigrant or ‘ethnic’ crime in the Sydney media. This discourse of immigrant criminality, exacerbated post 9/11, appears to leave little space for a more sympathetic discourse about immigrant victims of crime and the resulting construction of immigrant cultures of criminality leads to policy responses that ignore issues such as inequality, unemployment, education and neighbourhood renewal. © 2007, A B Academic Publishers - Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved.
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