Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Should we send the boat people back?

Let’s get political, buttttt before we go any further, I want to stress that I, in no way, think that I am an expert in this area. I am just trying to raise the issue and try and explain some of the terms that are thrown around in the media.

Boat people, refugees***, queue jumpers,  asylum seekers***, foreigners, detention camps, processing centres, Christmas Island, Nauru – we’ve all heard of these terms splashed across the front pages of the news, but what do they mean? How do they affect us? Why does the very mention of any of these words “divide a nation?”

*** what is the difference between refugees and asylum seekers? Refugees have been able to prove that they are in fear of their life and are fleeing a war torn country to government officials and asylum seekers are in the process of being assessed as refugees.

Here’s 9 points for you to consider that you may not know, or have even thought of (as many of these are not often advertised via mainstream media), as written by Jess Frost, a friend who I have met in this world of blogging. She is also not an expert but has spoken to many refugees that have been through Australia's detention system and has read much on this issue over the past several years.  There are a few myths you've probably heard she'd love to clear up for you - 


1.      Seeking Asylum is not illegal, whether by boat or plane. You probably didn't know but more Asylum Seekers arrive in Australia each year by plane than those that arrive by boat.

Reported in 2009, the number of plane arrivals was 30 times that of boat arrivals. and plane arrivals are far less likely to be genuine refugees. Plane arrivals are able to live in the community while their claims are processed where as boat arrivals are locked in detention centres. 

Asylum seekers that arrive by boat are often called queue jumpers because when they are accepted as refugees in Australia, the government counts them in their quota of refugees according the humanitarian intake that is set. By this logic, 'plane people'like boat people would be 'queue jumping as well. Have you ever heard about that in the news because I know I only ever hear about the boats? The reason that this myth has been perpetuated is because the government has two quotas each year for refugees - one for onshore arrivals (planes and boats) and humanitarian intake (straight from camps - like in Malaysia/Indonesia/Africa) and for no rational reason these numbers are linked, so plane and boat arrivals mean less people directly from camps. So this ridiculous queue forms, when in actual fact people aren't all sitting in camps with a numbered ticket like we get at the deli... there isn't a queue. And as long as there conflicts in the world or places like Indonesia and Malaysia don't treat refugees humanely, people will flee for their lives. These quotas should be de-linked and then everyone can forget about the idea of a queue.


2. People come here by boat because they are desperate. How is that hard to imagine?! Some times I think the anti-asylum seeker advocates should put themselves in someone elses shoes -
http://youtu.be/_OUpsWCvE38 just something to think about.

3.The problem is that until there is world peace there will always be people seeking asylum while war ravages countries or dictators abuse civilians.  If our home was no longer safe we would do anything we could to make our loved ones safe again, even if that might be fleeing to another country.

4. Australia signed the UN convention of refugees and so has an obligation to provide safety for these people, not shipping them off to countries where they will be in more danger or in overcrowded camps or essentially prisons, waiting for years and years with no idea of their future.


5.Yes, sometimes people who aren't legitimate refugees try and seek asylum and that is the point of processing. This doesn't mean that these people (mums, dads, kids - families) need to be locked up like criminals for years on end. Children seeking asylum aren't criminals, yet many continue to languish in detention centres.


6. Concerned about our country getting over-run with refugees? 
In 2010, the number of refugees that arrived in Australia would only fill 6.8% of the seats in the MCG, I think we need to be more concerned with Brits who overstay their visas.


7. Australia's politicians have used tragedy and real people who have had their lives torn apart as political footballs to gain favour and win our votes for years and years. Now people see these myths as truth, and it's just not.

8. If our Politicians really cared about fulfilling our international obligations and giving everyone ' a good ole' Aussie fair go' (not just one 'type of people' then:
 * the humanitarian intakes would be increased and de-linked between arrivals from camps and onshore (boat and plane arrivals)
* investment would be made in a regional solution - the countries where asylum seekers first reach (like Malaysia & Indonesia) which don't currently recognise refugees, haven't signed on to the UN convention for refugees and/or where their lives continue to be at risk and are in no way safe. 
* do away with long term detention centres and move to community processing. Once initial security checks have occurred there is no reason why these people can't be allowed into the community and able to start to rebuild their lives after already losing so much - families, livelihoods, their homes.


9. People seeking asylum in Australia isn't new, those leaving war torn countries have rebuilt their lives here for years. Yet now there is a 'big refugee issue'. It's only an issue because both sides of government have failed to act in a humane way and looked for a long term solution within our region. 

In my opinion, we should all be welcoming to people who are seeking safety and protection in our country, after fleeing for their life. So often when I hear the news, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' rings in my mind. I wonder what all of those who are so anti- refugees would like done to them?

Just remember that we too, were boat people once upon a time Via

It will definitely be interesting to see how the government addresses the “boat people” problem that Australia faces in the future. Will the government start to channel money into prevention rather than cure methods, by increasing foreign aid to help countries to maintain peace and provide security for their people? This would help to reduce the number of people fleeing their country in the first place, instead of “dealing with them when they rock up on our doorstep”.

How would you like to be treated if you had to flee Australia in fear of your life? 

What are your thoughts?

Look after yourself and those around you,



If you would like to learn more, here are a couple of useful links:
Rethink Refugees
Refugee Council of Australia

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