Reporting on immigrant communities
– Sudanese immigrants in two regional centres
Toowoomba – critical incidents
2. Identification of letterbox campaign instigator – August 2005
On August 22, 2005, The Australian reported that the Crow’s
Nest man behind the July WCPA campaign in Toowoomba had been identified
as Jim Perrin, and that police were tracking his activities. The article
quoted extensively from Mr Perrin’s online messages, and reported
that residents believed his views were common knowledge around the town.
The curator of the Military Museum where Mr Perrin volunteers opined that
support for white supremacist groups was widespread in Toowoomba. Darren
Abbott is quoted asserting that “…they are not extremists,
they’re patriots standing up for their country. They say what the
majority of Australians think”. The article paraphrased Sudanese
community leader Angelo Geng, again stating that the majority of Toowoomba’s
residents were sympathetic and supportive. A brief follow-up report was
published in The Australian on August 23. This item stated that
the Defence Department had rejected calls from Toowoomba’s Aboriginal
community to stand down Mr Abbott, curator of the Military Museum, following
his comments describing WPCA members as “patriots”. The
Toowoomba Chronicle published an article on August 24 reporting that
Mr Abbot had denied his statements were racist. He contended that his
comments were taken out of context and the report misrepresented his views.
Mr Abbot denied knowing that Mr Perrin held racist views when he referred
to him as a “good bloke” while speaking of his former membership
of the museum committee. The article made only a passing reference to
the accusations against Jim Perrin and did not refer directly to the WPCA
The Toowoomba Chronicle reported on August 23 that racist graffiti
had been painted in a local park overnight. The article included photographs
of the graffiti and quoted one piece which read “all niggers deserve
to die”. Local residents were quoted expressing their outrage about
the graffiti, some focusing on the message and others on the vandalism.
The article made no reference to the WPCA campaign or the reactions of
African or Aboriginal residents. The final Chronicle article
was a short piece reporting that the Sudanese Community Association had
found a permanent location on the local TAFE campus after searching for
a year. Community leader Albino Thook1 is quoted describing plans for
the new meeting place.
On October 19, the Chronicle published a report that racist
material had been distributed to a street to which a Sudanese family had
recently moved. The article quoted Sudanese community leader Angelo Geng
refuting perceptions that refugees lived on hand-outs which were spent
at the pub or on holidays. Mark Copland from the Social Justice Commission
was paraphrased asserting that refugees received very little government
or community assistance, relying on relatives and church groups to provide
them with basic necessities on arrival in the community. The report included
a brief overview of the racist campaign, including the graffiti incident
and a March 2004 incident in which a Sudanese family was targeted.
1Previously identified by the Toowoomba Chronicle as Albino Chol Thiik, in the August 1 article "'We like it here'. New Federal Minister listens as Sudanese scuttle allegations of racist community in Toowoomba".