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Race, Crime, and Economics.


In the 1990’s an eternally infuriating book was released called, ‘Magic Eye: A New Way of Looking at the World’. It was a series of illusions, some of which were made into equally as frustrating posters.

The viewer was allegedly meant to stare into two dimensional patterns and see a three dimensional image. I say allegedly because I never saw a single three dimensional picture despite only ever standing next to people that could see them clearly.

Magic Eye Image
Believe it or not, this is a picture of an adult penguin and seven smaller penguins gathered around a hole in the ice. Can you see them?

The image of crime in Australia and in Wyndham has often been viewed through the lens of race. The issues have regularly been seen as those that need to be addressed by whichever community has been the focus of media attention.

is crime an economic issue

But what if we were looking at the picture incorrectly? What if crime did not stem from cultural issues but economic ones? For example, I would expect that middle class Sudanese Australians do not identify with the needs and viewpoints of those involved with gangs but instead with the aspirations of others that identify as middle class across the country. Surely, the hopes of people in all communities that have dealt with generational poverty are fairly common to each other. 

Arrest from Operation Liege

Why is this important? If we look at crime as an economic issue rather than a race based one then the answers to the problem may vary.

For example, is there enough infrastructure in the rapidly growing suburbs of Wyndham? If there is not enough public transport then low income families may need to spend extra money from the family budget to do the basics like getting to the shops or taking the kids to school. What about entertainment for young Wyndham residents? We know that high levels of housing without suitable levels of infrastructure can lead to ghetto-like conditions.

answers to the problem vary

It may be easier to think about a community as having a problem because then the community needs to solve it themselves. However, an economic problem may require a government solution.

The issue is really in the eye of the beholder.

Author: Ben Hutchings