Whose Australia Is This?

SBS plans to show a documentary on the deaths of 20 refugees who were killed by the Taliban after being turned away by the Australian government after spending time in the camps. They were told they had to either leave, or remain in the camps forever. The documentary will be aired on November 19.

Living in an area with a lot of resettled Sudanese families, I often encounter a lot of racism and prejudice from my friends and people I run into, angry that they should be allowed to ‘just come in here’. My sister’s boyfriend’s father is from Nigeria, and went through the struggle of migrating to Australia back in the seventies, when racism was much more open, and even he ignores his fathers obviously similar story and thinks that they should be sent home and not allowed in. I know the population is largely uneducated when it comes to refugees and the war torn countries they are escaping, but I am seriously sickened by the lack of compassion in regards to them.

When a refugee is coming to be resettled in an environment where they don’t know the language, or understand the culture, it can often be quite daunting and overwhelming. Add in that the majority of the population doesn’t want you there and treats you like a criminal. On top of this, they are coming from countries where one or more of their immediate family may have been killed, a lot of the time in front of them, or they have been tortured, or their houses destroyed and communities disbanded. They have spent time in an Australian refugee camp, which is often just as bad as the country they came from, with bashings and rape and shitty living conditions. A lot of them are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

I know this is a play on your own emotions by trying to personalise their stories, but if that doesn’t hit you in the guts and make you feel sick, then fuck. What kind of person are you that color of someones skin affects whether or not you feel empathy? Even after I explained these factors into possibly a reason why the Sudanese act strangely (aside from the fact they have an entirely different culture) my friends were still unfeeling in regards to their pain. The refugees are not criminals trying to ‘jump the queue’. They are survivors of war and genocide, running from a country that would have killed them if they stayed.

Who owns this country anyway? How much do we have to pay to make it okay to migrate? Last I heard, moving countries was free, apart from visa fees and air tickets. What makes a second generation Australian, like my sisters boyfriend, any more of an Australian than the new migrants? What gives him more of a right to be here, keeping in mind that if the new migrant had a child they would be the same status as himself? We are not a white colony that allows other races to come and pay their way to enjoy our resources and work our coal mines. We are a multicultural country, where 20% of the population is born overseas. We all migrated at some stage and we have been shaped by the contributions of each and every minority to our developing nation. The White Australia policy was overturned decades ago for good reason.

Its also interesting to note that some 41% of illegal immigrants in Australia are white anglo visa over stayers from the UK or New Zealand, and not in fact Sudanese refugees or Asians as the media would have us believe. You see they make us fear the different, and the unknown. They keep us in a state of anxiety because we make stupider and more illogical decisions that way, and are more likely to be swept up in the media frenzy and get behind the populist, racist, prejudiced and discriminatory policies. The current anti terrorism campaign and the propaganda from during the World Wars were made for the same reason and serve the same purpose, to make you fear your neighbour, especially if he looks different to you.

We might be refugees too one day, especially seeing as global warming is creating a more volatile mother nature, with her tsunamis and hurricanes. Wouldn’t you want someone to be sympathetic to your plight?


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17 Responses to “Whose Australia Is This?”

  1. This Devil's Workday Says:

    I can never understand what people have against refugees – usually it’s just a lack of education on their behalf, having no idea what the fuck they’re really against.

  2. LuLi Says:

    Yeah exactly, and you can’t really argue with illogical reason so its like talking to a brick wall.. Frustrating.

  3. This Devil's Workday Says:

    That’s where analogies come in handy. All you have to do is explain it in the most simple terms possible to someone, which usually means comparing it to something they can actually relate to. You have to basically make it sound like they’re agreeing with something they would never normally agree to.

  4. LuLi Says:

    I’ll have to have a think of some then, I don’t think I ever use them in debates, I always prefer to use statistics and stuff. It does help to make it something they can relate to instead of being on the attack, which to be honest I kind of was during this convo with them. Oh well!

  5. Kezza Says:

    I think the common issue that people have is a misconception or lack of awareness about what a refugee actually is. I find it quite funny that your frind as someone who was born here, but who’s father was not, could have that kind of attitude too.

  6. LuLi Says:

    What the government should do is put forward an education campaign on how we should be accepting and nurturing to refugees, and how multiculturalism is a good thing and that no-one’s stealing anyones jobs because if you were skilled enough to have the job you’d get it yourself!

    His attitude is ridiculous, and I think he was just trying to be stubborn about it, but it really pissed me off.

  7. Reuben van Bemmel Says:

    I would like to see Kevin Andrews get a good kick in the bollocks for being such an unsympathetic bastard when Howard was in power.

    The Haneef case isn’t the only one. I’m sure more will be unearthed.

  8. LuLi Says:

    I agree Reuben, I think there will be plenty more.

  9. Duma Key Says:

    Great post, its so easy to turn a blind eye and forget our own humanity. I never really understood this whole concept of “you can not come here” when the land is free, who gives anyone a right to be anywhere? No one can own earth its was here before us and will be here after us. We call ourselves ethical, we call ourselves good, yet are quick to judge another life.
    I fail to understand why a person group of people can deny another a basic human right to live free, who has that right that power to decide? where did it come from.
    Thought provoking and well written.

  10. LuLi Says:

    Thanks for that Duma Key. You’re right, no one can own the land, or lay claim, as you say it was here before us and will be here long after we are gone (provided we don’t destroy the world!).

    I can’t understand why theres such a lack of compassion for the suffering of others, we are all the same. We live, eat, sleep, breathe and love. Nobody should have to go through that kind of trauma and then on top of that be persecuted..

  11. Frog Says:

    I personally think it’s because of how ignorant some people can be towards this topic, some people just don’t want really know about what really goes on. In my Life Skills class last week we were discussing the rate of refugees are let in to Australia. At first the teacher ask us how many refugees we think the government lets into Australia, half the class said something like 300 000 per year, and were saying things like “they” should go back to their “own” country. I couldn’t help wanting to punch each and every one of them in the face, but ofcourse i would’ve gotten expelled or something. Anyway, then the teacher handed us this sheet of paper it read:

    Fact: Australia receives relatively few refugees by world standards. In 2001 Australia will receive only 12 000 refugees through its humanitarian
    program. This number has remained static for three years, despite the ever-increasing numbers of refugees’ worldwide. Australia
    accepted 20 000 refugees each year at the beginning of the 1980’s.
    According to Amnesty International 1 in every 115 people on earth are refugees, and a new refugee is created every 21 seconds. Refugees
    re-settle all over the world. However, the distribution of refugees across the world is very unequal.
    • Tanzania hosts one refugee for every 76 Tanzanian people (1:76)
    • Britain hosts one refugee for every 530 British people (1:530)
    • Australia hosts one refugee for every 1583 Australian people (1:1583)

    That shut everyone up because Australia is one of the lowest countries in the world at their rate of accepting refugees.

  12. LuLi Says:

    I was shocked to find out those numbers as well Frog, especially when other countries take up to 100,000 every year and I think some low value economy countries like India and stuff have taken even more. Your completely right, its all about ignorance, and I really wish people would either use their common sense, or that the government would step in with some information.

  13. This Devil's Workday Says:

    I’m pretty certain there’s some sort of quota we’re meant to take in, and we don’t come anywhere near what we should be taking in.

  14. Domino Says:

    It’s all about education…if the government did run an education campaign on TV it would lower the racism substantially I reckon…It’s like some people have just accepted racism, like it’s become the norm. My sister says Australians are racist pigs, but she doesn’t say it with disdain, but more just like it’s normal and alright. My other friend has got a thing against Asians….it’s annoying, and kinda pathetic.

  15. LuLi Says:

    It would for sure, we’re very influenced by what we watch. The anti-immigration campaigns and scare tactics that John Howard used to create fear of other nationalities really eroded the former sense of multiculturalism that the public had. We actually reverted back to the integration movement for a while, which is disgusting.. But hopefully we can get back on track and welcome others with open arms, no matter where they come from.

  16. Bron Says:

    Great post, LuLi. It is frustrating when people just respond in an ignorant, kneejerk fashion when the word “refugee” is mentioned. You can tell they’ve been watching too much ACA and TT!!!

  17. LuLi Says:

    Thanks Bron! It drives me mental that the popular views in politics in Australia are the ones perpetuated by ACA and TT.. I don’t know about you but sometimes it feels to me like fighting a losing battle.

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