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Gangs, race and Melbourne

By Binoy Kampmark - posted Thursday, 4 January 2018

Not that the community leaders are necessary the best panacea for the lost. Having assumed the authority to speak for alienated youth figures, they can themselves come across as compromised, seeking authority before others in the immigrant hierarchy. Resources, and prestige, are there to be fought over, even as the problem perpetuates.

Nor do they all agree, either. Nelly Yoa has provided manna from heaven to more reactionary commentators keen to put the kibosh on "African" perpetrators. As one who mentors the troubled, he feels that the Victorian government has been sluggish and slow on the uptake. "The State Government has watched this unfold over the past two years. Nothing has been done."

Between Deng and Yoa is a yawning chasm. One claims that community leaders are engaged, their activities approved and backed by the Victorian government. The other insists that the issue has become something of a conference set, an interminable chat show that tanks more than thinks. "As a Melbournian," claims Yoa, "I do believe enough is enough. Action needs to be taken instead of just talking about it."


But the options are thin, and refusing to involve those involved in matters of violence or misdemeanour adds teeth to their cause, whatever it might be. Then comes the issue of policing itself, its protocols, its approaches. As Deng himself explains, "These are young people who like to make a name for themselves to look tough in front of the Victorian police". They are far from the only ones in this.

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About the Author

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and blogs at Oz Moses.

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