A video clip from a CCTV camera caught my attention last week on social media. It was of 2 youth breaking into an Indian Grocery store in Moonah. I was a little bit shocked specially because I read comments that it was the second time it happened to them. I really felt for the owners as I know them, and they are a hard-working family who have always been there for the community. Moonah is a suburb in Hobart which is only 5km north of the Central Business District. I arrived in Tasmania in early 2016 and have seen that suburb grow with people from different multicultural backgrounds. Our own Nepali community has grown in vast numbers in Moonah and Glenorchy. We currently have multiple Nepali Businesses in that suburb. Naturally I was very concerned to see that social media footage. Then I learnt two of our Nepali businesses were also vandalised that same week. We were only starting to talk about the vandalism in the community when I had a call from one of the Nepali Business owners in the area. What he told me; I was dumbstruck! In his case, it developed into an assault. Two youth came in, misbehaved and when they were asked to leave, he was dragged outside and beaten with a rod. This all happened early evening. One of his staff members had taken a video clip from the mobile.
The person who got attacked did the right thing and called the Police. It was good that there was a video clip. Police informed they may know the duo and then he was informed they were arrested. What he tells me is he did not feel the pain that day. He woke up the next day happy the duo was arrested but felt pain and went to the doctors. Mentally he was feeling ok but then that did not last. He learnt in the afternoon that Police had released the two after 8 hours. That is all he knows! He does not know if they were charged or not, if they are on bail or not. One can imagine the fear now in him and the staff at the business. They are living with fear these two youths will come back to take revenge. The Police simply asked to go to the court to get an injunction order if they don’t want those youths in there, a process that could take a good few days. He does not have the luxury of a few days because he had to open for business the next day.
Talking to people in that area, seems like everyone is now scared. When I got a call from the business owner, he was in shock mode. Not just mentally but physically too. He had felt no pain but went to doctors the next morning as he felt slight pain. By next night, he had started to come out of shock and was feeling the physical pain more. So much so that he went to the Emergency at the Hospital. After a week now, he tells me his legs still hurt. I did ask what we can do now and what would he like to see done? It is a tough one! In our country, with such proofs like video clips, charges can be laid. Here we don’t know what has happened. In the process of trying to understand the system, we learnt from Mr. Josh Willie who is the Member for Elwick in the Tasmanian Legislative Council, that if charges were laid then the two youth would have been told not to enter the same business premises again.
One of the youths did go back in there within 2 days (better behaved) so we just have to assume that charges were not laid. But if charges were not led, on what premises were they released?
This particular person that has gone through trauma has been talking to people in that area, talking to businesses in that area. I have been speaking to people too. We just want to raise awareness of what is happening in the area. I know there are wonderful people that live in the area and now everyone should be visible and look out for each other. I also heard that other businesses from non-multicultural groups have been vandalised too. I don’t know the exact total numbers of all businesses, but I do know 2 Indian and 3 Nepali Businesses have suffered with one assault case.
Moonah and Glenorchy are where a lot of different ethnic groups live. It is one of the most multicultural parts of Hobart. I hope the government picks this up and starts looking at how to prevent these things. How to also install confidence in people that the system is with them and they don’t need to be fearful. I did hear that the Police have also got a dedicated person to look after multicultural groups. I am not sure how true that is but sounds like a great plan to look into if it is not true.
For now, we continue to support the businesses that got attacked and are still scared of comeback attacks. I hope every business owner reading this is vigilant and all other community members are looking out for each other. I love going to Moonah for all the multiculturalism I feel there and want to continue to enjoy that feeling.
Written by Punam Panta