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Advocating for misrepresented youth

Sudanese Youth playing basketball with Captain Troy Pittaway

24 January 2018

Salvation Army officer Captain Troy Pittaway has publicly defended the vast majority of Sudanese Australians, who have recently been vilified by some politicians and media commentators. The captain notes in an nationally published online article that he has ‘been working and living with and studying Sudanese youth for over eight years and in this time, I have never encountered anything like the gangs of youths that are being talked about’.

‘What I have seen is Sudanese young people be successful in academics and become lawyers and doctors; be hard workers and become tradies; be talented athletes and become professional basketballers, footy and soccer players. I have seen some young people have trouble with the law and need advocacy with the police and in the courts. To try and distil an entire culture, with various sub-cultures and traditional values — not to mention the various personalities of each individual — into a media soundbite about hordes of marauding African gangs, insults not only the Sudanese community, but every Australian. It insults our sense of a fair go, our diversity, and, on our good days, our intelligence.’

Captain Pittaway acknowledged the complexities at play, stating he didn’t ‘believe the issue should be merged with generalised young people and crime, or deny the reality that there is a correlation between Sudanese young people and their disproportionate participation in crime’.

‘Not because I disagree with the assertion that these young people are indeed Australian youth and that it becomes distracting when we judge a person's actions by the colour of their skin, or that the overwhelming amount of crime that is committed is not by people of African heritage. The reason I disagree with this approach is because if we insist on equality in this way, we are in fact denying justice to a highly marginalised group of young people.’
Click here for the article at Eurekastreet.com.au