Launceston's African community and journalism academics respond to Channel 7's report on 'African Gangs'

GANGS: Federation of Equatoria Association in Australia Inc president Juma Piri Piri. Picture: Paul Scambler.
GANGS: Federation of Equatoria Association in Australia Inc president Juma Piri Piri. Picture: Paul Scambler.

A report by Channel 7’s Sunday Night on a so called ‘African gang’ problem has been met with criticism by members of the Launceston African community.

President of the Federation of Equatoria Association in Australia Inc Juma Piri Piri has voiced his disappointment in the way Channel 7 has portrayed the African immigrant community.

“I think there’s a lot of bias into what is really being reported and I think that doesn’t really reflect what the entire African community is,” Mr Piri Piri said.

“There are a lot of people that are doing good things but guess what? We’re not talking about that.”

Mr Piri Piri believed the report did more harm than good in finding a solution.

He said that violence was not exclusive to any one race, and singling out certain communities would create more problems.

“Airing this story is actually saying ‘you know what? You’re not welcome, you’re not part of us, and you’ll never be part of us’,” Mr Piri Piri said.

Researcher in demography at Australia National University Doctor Liz Allen has given insight into Channel 7’s coverage of the issue.

“By framing a debate through fear, the public is drawn to engage in the hope solutions are offered to protect us,” Dr Allen said.

She also disputed the notion of ‘African gangs’, saying “data doesn’t support the notion of a plague of migrant crime, whether it be African gangs or European hipsters. Australians are at greater risk from Anglo Australians than any other ethnic or cultural group.”

Mr Piri Piri also does not believe ‘African gangs’ exist, arguing what is being seen are individuals who are struggling to integrate in the Australian community. 

“They’re individuals who come here, they might have lost everything and they need more time to adjust into real life than anyone else,” Mr Piri Piri said.

Both Mr Piri Piri and Dr Allen welcome constructive conversation around the topic to improve understanding.

“Let’s have an informed conversation and leave the biases behind. Our future depends on it,” Dr Allen said.