A spate of violent attacks on international students has prompted theRudd government to organise a \"roundtable\" to discuss how studentsexperience Australia.
26 May 2009 - 7:52 PM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2015 - 2:23 PM

A spate of violent attacks on international students has prompted the Rudd government to organise a "roundtable" to discuss how students experience Australia.

Education Minister Julia Gillard says she\'s concerned about recent reports which show the safety of international students has been "compromised".

"I am personally particularly disturbed by a recent violent incident which occurred in my own electorate," the deputy PM told parliament on Tuesday.

Student bashed in Melbourne

Earlier this month, Indian student Sourabh Sharma, 21, was bashed by six men while travelling home on a western suburbs train in Melbourne.

Ms Gillard said most international students were satisfied with their study in Australia.

"However, reports of any violence or discrimination directed at international students can do much damage to our international reputation as a welcoming country," she said.

"I want to send a message loud and clear that international students are very welcome in this nation and Australia will not tolerate discrimination against or victimisation of any of our international students."

Revenue from education sector

Education is Australia\'s third largest export industry.

It generated $15.5 billion last year, with 430,000 international students visiting Australia.

International student representatives will be invited to participate in the roundtable to discuss issues including
accommodation, welfare and safety.

"The outcome of this round table ... will inform discussions with state and territory education ministers at the inaugural meeting of the Ministerial Council on Tertiary Education later this year," Ms Gillard said.

Initiative applauded

The National Union of Students welcomed the announcement.

"It couldn\'t have come at a more appropriate time," union president David Barrow said in a statement.

"Over the last month we have seen physical attacks against Indian students in Melbourne, international students at Griffith University and robbery and assault at Newcastle University."

Mr Barrow said Australia remained one of the best destinations for international students but argued there were "clearly" some problems.

International students \'swindled\'

"Internationals are being swindled by dodgy English language providers, bosses and landlords and face violence and racism on campus and public transport."

The coalition labelled the roundtable idea a "sensible" one.

"(I hope) the government will also work to ensure that as broad a range of cultural backgrounds are represented in this roundtable as possible," Liberal frontbencher Andrew Southcott told parliament on behalf of opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne.

Mr Pyne had earlier been asked to leave the chamber during question time.