The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) issued a media release on the 18th February 2010 under the heading: “Over a million cases of household property damage”, found that: “there are approximately 1.6 million incidents of malicious property damage” across Australia, and that: “912,500 households (11%) were victims of at least one incident of property damage in the 12 months” between 2008 and 2009.
In a more detail report on the crime victimisation figure, ABS also released the following information:
In December 2008, 16.9 million people aged 15 years or over were living in private dwellings in Australia. It was estimated that in the 12 months prior to interview, of those aged 15 years or over:
· 527,400 (3.1%) people were victims of at least one physical assault
· 718,600 (4.2%) people were victims of at least one threatened assault, including face-to-face and non face-to-face threatened assaults
· 96,700 (0.6%) people were victims of at least one robbery.
As for the issue of household crime, ABS has the following breakdown figures:
In December 2008, Australia had 8.2 million households. It was estimated that in the 12 months prior to interview:
· 267,800 (3.3%) households were victims of at least one break-in to their home, garage or shed
· 251,300 (3.1%) households were victims of at least one attempted break-in to their home, garage or shed
· 91,000 (1.1%) households had at least one motor vehicle stolen
· 369,200 (4.5%) households were victims of at least one theft from a motor vehicle
· 912,500 (11%) households were victims of at least one incident of malicious property damage
· 362,400 (4.4%) households were victims of at least one other theft.
Total silent on the crime figures by the Australian media
When I received the above crime figures on my mail box (I am a subscriber to ABS), I was expecting to hear the news on ABC radio, SBS evening news and read them in my mail box over the next few days from the major newspapers across the country. To my surprise, the mainstream media across Australia were totally muted on the latest crime data. Why?
I cannot help feeling that the media industry in Australia is not as free as we were made to believe.
Total silent from the Politicians across the county: Federal, States and Locals
The irony is that, the politicians from all side of the politics with the exception of Senator Steve Fielding of a minor party were totally silent as well on the latest ABS’s crime figures. Why?
In a self promotion style of reporting on the Australia.To’s website, Senator Fielding mentioned the ABS crime figure and blamed that on “alcohol fuelled violence” and call upon governments “to stamp out binge drinking and the associated problems that go with it.”
That is about all I could find through internet search any politician in Australia bother to at least mention the crime figure from ABS since 18 February 2010.
Australians are totally ignorance about the latest ABS crime figures
In order to make sure that my perception of a total media silent in Australia on the issue is accurate, I have casually spoken to more than a hundred people over the last 10 days (including friends in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane; office workers, business owners and shoppers in the shopping center where I work; and market stall holders where I shopped on the weekend. The reality is, non of the people I spoke to knew anything about the ABS crime figures.
With a sense of responsibility towards the statements I made in this article, I double check the internet this morning through Yahoo and Google, only the Australian Women Online reported this news. The few internet bloggers website provided the news links back to the Australian Women Online.
The Pro– criminal’s Culture within our Media Industry and politicians
Past records and incidents indicated that our media and politicians seems not too concern about the victims of crimes whether domestically or overseas. We seems to have a culture to:
(1) Demonise another culture or countries whenever our criminals or citizens were arrested in a non-Western country:
For example, on the 20th July 2009, under the title: “Aussies face bribe charges in Dubai”, Sydney Morning Herald has the following quote from the defendant lawyer:
Mr Amad said the figure was unlikely to recede, given foreigners were increasingly being made scapegoats for soured business deals. "More and more people are now starting to understand the risks in doing business overseas," he said. "With the impact of the global financial crisis, I think more and more people will be charged on similar allegations and I think Australians and the Australian Government need to be aware that this is a distinct possibility."
(a) In the absence of information in regards to the detail and evidence of the charges lay against the two Aussies, it was kind of bias and irresponsible for the Sydney Morning Herald to quote exclusively the personal opinion of the defendant lawyer (person who received money from the defendant) and give readers the impression that “the Aussies are victims and being made scapegoats for soured business deals”.
(b) We did not hear about the subsequent outcome of this case. But readers begin to form negative impression about the “Risks in doing business overseas”. That is, the mentality of “Overseas are not as civilise as Australia” if I may put it this way.
Please read also my analysis on the Australian media and politicians behaviour in the Rio Tinto Bribery Case and the Australian legal frame work against Foreign Bribery. In this article, you will notice that, the same techniques have been adopted in reporting the arrest of Rio Tinto Executives in Shanghai. The so-called quotes from “Experts” were people without a name, and those with a name, were no expert at all.
(2) Demonise another culture or countries by expressing sympathy to our own convicted criminal overseas
For example, our convicted drug trafficker - the Corby Case in Indonesia - Our media never bother to report the tragic stories of the victims of drug in Indonesia, however, they seems to be very keen in persuading the message that, Indonesian prison is not humane and Corby is a victim, we should bring her home.
Please read the following news links to analyse the content by yourself:
· Schapelle dying: boyfriend - Brisbane Time, 10 Nov 2009
· Hope gone, Corby escapes her Bali cell to a world of fantasy - WAToday, 23 Jan 2010 (source: The Age)
As usual, our populist politicians also added their voice to the case. For example, Corby's release hinges on historic agreement: PM (Brisbane Times, 31 Aug 2009)
Our Prime Minister even go to the extent in December 2009, issued guidelines to the Australian Federal Police “stipulating that police consider a suspect's age, nationality and whether capital punishment is likely when co-operating with foreign countries.”(The Age, 11 Jan 2010 - Bid to save Bali nine member).
Apparently, our politicians and media industry care more for our criminals overseas then our victims of crime at home. What can we do?
(3) Demonise another culture or countries on behalf of other Western’s criminals
The recent case of a British drug trafficker sentence to death in China attracted a wide spread reports and condemnation of China by the mainstream Western media and some Western politicians throughout the world including Australia.
As usual, the media in Australia is against reporting the issue using a selective, partial and bias approach with the intention to demonise China. Many statements made by China relating to the case wasn’t reported by the media. (If you can read Chinese, please read the following analysis by the Hong Kong media (1) Double Standard of the West (2) British hypocrisy on the issue of Judicial Independent). Anyway, I do not wish to waste too much time on this issue as it is not the key message I would like to share with readers in this article.
I believe that, for the sake of humanity, our media and politicians should focus on the bigger issues of drugs such as its adverse effect on individuals, families and the society as a whole. For the benefit of those who may be interested in the issue, please click on the following links:
· Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Statistics & Resources
· Addiction and Health (Note: Drug addiction responsible for an estimated 5 million deaths worldwide each year)
(4) Blame the Victims of crimes instead of the criminals
Few weeks ago, at the height of the diplomatic tension (The Age, 21 Jan 2010) between India and Australia over the numerous cases of attacks against Indians in Australia, instead of condemning the attackers, our police chief in Victoria blamed the victims and called upon the Indians to “Keep low profile, look poor to avoid attacks” (Times of India, 7 Feb 2010).
At the same time on the 21st January 2010, the Brisbane Times reported a complaint by the Alabama Attorney-General in America “frustrated by Queensland's lack of help in Watson case”.
What is wrong with our social psyche on the issue of crimes and their victims?
Human rights should includes the right of one citizens and their properties safety in their own backyard
Personally, I am a victim of crimes myself. For examples,
Few months ago one night, both my family cars were smashed in our own carport. According to the police, there were about 50 teenagers armed with baseball bats smashed into a vacant home about 1 km away from where I live to have a party. One of the neighbour lodged a police complaint and they were forced to leave the property. Some of these teenagers begin to terrorise against passing by vehicles along the street.
For some reason, they decided to chase after one of the car for a kilometre and end up on my drive way. There was a big fight along my drive way and before leaving, they smashed not only the car of the victim they chase, but both our family cars as well. It was a scary experience as it happened only a meter away from my living room.
In another earlier incident 3 years ago, my cash register has been emptied within a minute by a group of teenagers walking into my shop. There were numerous incidents of stealing by individuals and groups over the last 4 years since I started the retail business. These teenagers demonstrated no respect at all to anybody they came by.
Again, around 3 years ago, a customer brought in a pair of signed gloves and photo to have them framed . On the due date, he came in to have a look at the workmanship, paid $50 and told me he will pay the balance and pick it up on his pay day. However, he never returned.
Approximately 2 years later, he suddenly stood in front of me with a crutch. He told me that he was robbed and attacked by some teenagers using their skate boards outside a shopping center. He has been hospitalised for almost a year, and only recently he managed to walk by himself. He was very pleased that I still have his signed memorabilia for him.
There are too many of this kind of stories I knew of and are able to share with you. But this is not the issue. The issue is when do our polices, our media, our politicians and our judges going to do something to protect the human right of the average decent Australians to ensure their personal safety and property safety in their own country?
We love to use small stories to demonise other culture and countries to make us fell good. Why can’t we do something to make us a model society for the world to admire and follow. Why can’t we report the latest crime figures and push our politicians, our judges and our polices to get off their butts and do something positive to protect the safety of the Australian public.
What happen to our democracy? Can’t our system produce competent leaders serving our interest?
Our politicians and bureaucrats are ‘out of touch’ with the society, the solutions against crime is within the people on the street
If your life is as simple as I was before I set up a retail business in a regional CBD. The chances are you may be a born Australian, but you knew nothing about Australia. The reason is simple, I was in a wholesales business for about 10 years before going into retail. During that 10 years, I operate the business from home. I travelled to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane once or twice a year to participate in Trade Fairs at the Convention Center to built my contacts with retailers across the country.
The rest of the time, I stay at home waiting for orders to come in by faxes, e-mails or phones. I learned to design my own website and promote my products via e-mail and direct mailing to customers and potential customers I contacted at the Trade Fair. Technically, my world is very small - beside sending our son to school, doing our weekly shopping and sometime going for a movie at a cinema or visiting a video shop, eating out, gathering with friends, I have only very limited contact with the wider Australian society.
I believe that this is the kind of life style most of our bureaucrats and politicians live in. Travel between the Parliament House and their home, travel around the country pre-arranged with the accompanied of a group of people. Walking the street, shaking hand with the public at a shopping center before an election for show. Our politicians are mostly surrounded by lobby groups representing the special interest of some rich businesses or foreign countries. The so-called direct contact with the society are basically an artificial one without the opportunity for a personal touch - not to mention the opportunity to understand the other person feeling and in dept thinking on a variety of issues within the community.
Like most people in Australia, I was once belong to this category of people. However, when I moved into a retail environment in a regional CBD, working 6 days a week and had the opportunity to directly contact and speak with people from all walk of life including homeless, ex-prisoners, people with mental illness, lonely pensioners, professionals and overseas visitors……..and also people who came in group time and again to steal from me. Without these experience, and the curiosity and initiative to talk to these people and try to understand them, I can comfortably assure you that, you may be a born Australian, you knew nothing about Australia.
As mentioned above, the only politician who bother to mention the latest ABS crime figure is Senator Steve Fielding, but his understanding and solutions to the crime problem is a typical example of an ‘out of touch’ politicians in our society (Sorry to say that). He blamed the 1.6 million incidents of malicious property damage squarely on “alcohol fuelled violence” and call upon governments “to stamp out binge drinking and the associated problems that go with it.”
In fact, few years ago, some of our States and Locals government already had in place laws that ban alcohol in certain public area such as beaches. As a result, my good friend Steve, a hard working Australian, not aware of the new law was fined $170 one evening after work - when he walked to the beach 50m from his factory after 5pm with a can of beer on his hand trying to relax.
Few months later, he went to Vietnam for a holiday, he sit in front of a beautiful beach and was served with a lobster and beer for only USD10. When he returned, he told me his experience in Vietnam and the story of Australians who fall in love with the Vietnamese life style and showing no intention to return home. He asked me “What’s wrong with our society?” “I didn’t even have the freedom to have a beer 50m away from my factory after work”.
Common sense tell us, 1.6 million cases of malicious damage to property within 12 months is a big number. The reason is far more complex then “binge drinking”. We have to examine the whole issue in a holistic manner. These includes a review to our education system, family values, welfare structure, homelessness, unemployment, poverty, media responsibility, law enforcement, police numbers and the ability of our bureaucrats and politicians to understanding the sources of the problems.
Let me end this article with one more story. Like most retailers, I used to be nervous when a group of teenagers walked into my shop, going in different direction, messing thing around and walk out at the same time. You knew they steal from you, but you cannot do much as you are alone in the shop. And they keep coming in time and again.
I was bothered by one of these group of teenagers for a number of months until one day, I spoke to a young man whom himself a homeless sometime ago, he asked me to make friend with these people, talk to them. He told me “they need love from the society”.
Guest what, once I begin to say “Hello” to them, use their language telling them you looks “cool” today and talk to them - and my problem is over. They continue to bother other shops and one day, one of the security in the shopping center came around to tell us that one of the boy from this group has been caught stealing, and he is banned from the shopping center. So, we were asked to phone the security when we spotted him in the center.
In fact, some of these problems are racially motivated: Click for Latest incident.
The solutions to our massive crime problem is not limited to “binge drinking”. These teenagers or young men and women need to have a sense of purpose in the society. They need to have something to do. The solutions have to be holistic and comprehensive directing at the causes of the problem. Our media, polices and politicians attitude towards these criminal acts play a critical role in solving the problem.
An advice to our media industry: If you care for Australia, please report the latest ABS crime figures, make a series of special report on these crimes, interview people on the street including those who committed the crimes. Use your power to push our politicians to act on the issues. Australians like myself are annoyed by your censorship of our own problems and relenting effort to demonise others. The victims of crimes want you to care for them and their human right to live safely in their own backyards.
Written on 3 March 2010
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