A Sudanese mother, whose eldest son has been imprisoned for gang activity, says a lack of employment opportunities is driving the wave of gang crime in Melbourne.
Asha Awur told A Current Affair the men who come from African nations like Sudan have fled traumatic upbringings and struggle to assimilate immediately into Australian culture.
She says the men feel ‘isolated and frustrated’ by their new lives, and often turn to crime as a way of combating their feelings and supporting themselves.
Ms Awur, a Sudanese mother of young children herself, says this is the case even for children who have moved to Australia, who are working to fit in at school, and in a predominantly Christian nation.
Religion is a major part of life in Sudan, with the majority of the population adhering to Islam.
Ms Awur also said those who come from overseas are not given enough support or opportunity to establish themselves.
The lack of support is something she feels herself, telling the program her Centrelink payment is not enough to raise her children on.
Ms Awur said she still relies on her mother for extra money, and can empathise with those who have turned to crime to get by.
‘If mum isn’t always giving me money, there’s no pocket money, and maybe I have to find a different way of stealing, get my own money,’ she said in an exasperated tone.
The woman claims the lack of support often results in people abusing drugs and alcohol.
‘Noone is helping them out – they can’t make money, so they end up in drugs, smoke and drink,’ she said.
Berhan Ahmed, the CEO of the African Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services, wrote in the Herald Sun last week his organisation, supported by the Government, was working to tackle issues which could lead young Africans to participate in gang crime.
In particular, he referenced employment opportunities and educational support as issues the organisation was looking to help their clients overcome, using ‘resourcing that will help prevent their children from being recruited into criminal gangs’.