The Halls Gap community is united in its condemnation of a group of Neo-Nazi supporters who ran amok through the Grampians region over the weekend.
Witnesses reported around 40 men adorned with Nazi-linked tattoos and wearing balaclavas and clothes with racist slogans descended on the small town last Saturday.
The public were shocked at the brazen group which drew attention to itself with 'white power' chants and performing the reviled Nazi Sieg Heil gesture, along with referencing the Ku Klux Klan in a number of attention-grabbing stunts.
However, the Halls Gap community has hit back and issued a stark warning to hate groups - any form of racism or hate speech is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in their region.
Halls Gap business leaders have come in support of the local indigenous community and the large groups of visitors from multicultural backgrounds that visit the Grampians centre and told members of extremist groups they would be identified and prosecuted quickly.
"People are mindful and vigilant about this type of threat and we have seen the group quickly reported to authorities to be dealt with," said Halls Gap business owner Carly Flecknoe.
"The message we, as a community, want to get out is that we are very passionate about our wonderful multi-cultural visitors," Ms Flecknoe said.
"For that reason there is absolutely zero tolerance for extremism or racism and people with this sort of mindset are simply not welcome in the area," she said.
Another business owner, who declined to be named, said locals were working hard to ensure a booming summer, which saw huge numbers descend on the picturesque town in the wake of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, was not soured by the actions of a minority.
"There is no place for these sort of people in this region and my message is that you won't get away with it," he said.
"It's such a shame to have something like this after all the positivity after lockdowns, but we will move past it and continue the vast majority of people that come to our region with positive intentions."
He said the local community was closely monitoring for anti-social behaviour.
"It may feel isolated to some but people are taking note, especially when you're gathering in what is basically still part of the township at Lake Bellfield, they are going to be seen and they are going to be reported, if you're thinking of coming here for this sort of nonsense then think again, you're going to get caught."
Ms Flecknoe said residents were fuming at the blatant lack of respect shown by the radical group, which caused an uproar over the weekend with racist chants and salutes and drunken behaviour.
"I think their attitude to the region and its people was summed up with them camping illegally at Lake Bellfield, defiling a very special place," she said.
"They have nothing but disrespect for us.
"There was no love of the beautiful location or any wish to embrace the incredible culture or community, but we will continue to show there is no place for their sort of behaviour by continuing to welcome the wide range of people that come to our part of the world."
Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Murray Emerson condemned the actions and presence of the group in the region on Thursday
"As the specifics of this group's behaviour are under investigation by Victoria Police, I cannot comment on individual actions by those involved," Cr Emerson said.
"I take this opportunity, however, to condemn these kinds of groups in no uncertain terms.
"Our shire, our region, and our country are no place for hate, bigotry, or any ideology that seeks to divide our people or sow hatred in our communities.
"The disturbing images that have come from the group in our region over the weekend should not be taken lightly and I hope those responsible face consequences before the law for bringing this kind of hateful rhetoric to our beautiful region.
"To those that seek to come here with any attitude or behaviour that attempts to put others down or denigrate anyone, I say to those people you are not welcome here."
On Thursday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also addressed the reports and said he recognised anti-Semitism was on the rise in Australia and overseas, despite being "evil and wicked".
"There's no place for that kind of anti-Semitism in our state," he said.
"There's no place for that of bigotry and hatred; there's no place for violence."
On Monday, January 28, Victoria Police said they would "not comment specifically" on the matter, but encouraged anyone to report any instances of prejudice related crime.
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