Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Its racial profiling: Aboriginal families fear social media is driving vigilante attacks on young people in Perth

Its racial profiling: Aboriginal families fear social media is driving vigilante attacks on young people in Perth


Its racial profiling: Aboriginal families fear social media is driving vigilante attacks on young people in Perth

Aboriginal families in Perth say their children have been chased in cars and attacked in the street with knives, bats and metal bars by vigilantes whose hostility is fuelled by racist comments on social media, particularly in Facebook community groups.

Last month the killing of Noongar-Yamatji schoolboy Cassius Turvey made news across the globe and led to a national outpouring of grief and anger. A 21-year-old man has been charged with murder, assault and stealing. He has not yet entered a plea.

The court has yet to hear the evidence in that case, but the death of 15-year-old Cassius has focused attention on the experiences of young Indigenous people in Western Australia.

Noongar parents say tension on the streets of Perth is a longstanding problem, but attacks have now become so common that children and young people are "desensitised" to incidents.

Marianne McKay is a mother of seven children, including a 15-year-old son. The family lives on the outskirts of Perth in Kwinana, a rapidly growing community popular with young families and those looking for affordable homes.

McKay says her son and his friends have been targeted in playgrounds, in the streets and while walking to friends' and families' homes, by people assuming they are "troublemakers".

"They've hidden in bushes [and] been run off the road, and they've had incidents at the skate park, where bigger boys have targeted the younger boys," McKay says. "And so our boys have gone over to like, get rid of them, and then they've gone and gotten their parents to come and chase them with bats and poles and knives. And it's escalated to the point where kids have been hurt."

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