City of Ballarat mayor Des Hudson has slammed the "appalling behavior" of a gang of thugs, but believes the attack on a young holidaying family was an isolated incident. The Nugagahakumbura-Munasinghe family told The Courier about their terrifying experience in October, where they were attacked on Little Bridge Street while trying to help their daughter, who has complex disabilities, into their car. Cr Hudson had contact with the Melbourne based family after the incident, and while he said it would have been a terrible experience, he believes in general Ballarat is accepting of visitors. "I certainly empathise with them and apologise that a very small fragment of our community chose to act in the way that they did," he said. "It's not a normal representation of the way people act and behave in Ballarat, we are a very welcoming city. "We're a city that accepts diversity in a whole range of different ways." Cr Hudson declined to comment on the police response to the incident, but he said he hoped the guilty parties would be held responsible for their actions. "I do hope that police follow through and that the offenders are charged and held to account for their absolutely appalling behaviour," he said. In an interview, the family told The Courier they weren't interested in visiting Ballarat again, but Cr Hudson said he hoped at some point they would return. He said he regularly speaks with members of Ballarat's South Asian community, and hasn't heard of similar hostile experiences. "At some point in time we would hope they would have the confidence to return to Ballarat, but understand they've obviously got to work through the trauma of this incident," he said. "I don't think it's a matter of getting them to rush back to Ballarat, but I think once they are in a better frame of mind, we would love to see them come back. "Hopefully at some point in time when the family is in a much better state of mental health, that we would love to welcome them back to Ballarat, and hopefully they can have a much better and a more enjoyable experience as a whole family." The attack occurred near the troubled Little Bridge Street bus stop just a month after shelters were removed in an attempt to minimise anti-social behaviour. Previously, the bus shelters were flagged by nearby traders for causing an unsafe environment.