Archive for the ‘refugees’ category

To Tanya

February 24, 2014

light the dark

I pretty much gave up on the ALP some time ago, as it seems they gave up on many of the values they stood for. However, they still hold some power, and perhaps it’s worth petitioning them sometimes in the hope that they stand up for justice in some way … some of the time, perhaps, maybe …

Anyway, I wrote to Tanya Plibersek this morning:

Dear Ms Plibersek,

I’m writing to you today because I am increasingly angered and saddened by the way our government treats people who flee to Australia as refugees. Last night, like hundreds of others around Australia, I attended a candle light vigil to mourn the death of an asylum seeker in Australia’s care, and to register my continuing distress at the way we treat those who come to us for protection.

At the very least, you must aggressively hold the current government to account for their increasing cruelty, and the disdain with which they treat the Australian public by their misinformation.

I see that the ALP is in a tricky position here – it was your government which re-opened these offshore centres, and in some ways it is the direction your government took on this issue that has allowed the Abbott government to go so shamefully far in their actions. I understand this is a complex policy area, but there are other policy options available, the ideas written about by Malcolm Fraser in his article “Manus Island: so many questions, one simple answer” in the SMH last Friday are an example: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/manus-island-so-many-questions-one-simple-solution-20140220-333sn.html. There are many other policy alternatives too, and no doubt you are aware of them.

My hope is that the ALP might have the moral courage to change direction on this issue and show leadership that demonstrates the values of fairness the party so often says it stands for, and as you said in your maiden speech “to be a thinking party … of reform and progress”. I would urge you to listen to the stories of people who flee for protection and listen to those of us in Australia who want to cultivate a spirit of welcome rather than ignorance. I would also urge you to consider that history will, I believe, judge those in power during these dark times very very harshly.

Even though I have never met you, and I have only ever seen you speak via the media, I suspect you are a person of thoughtfulness and compassion. We can’t let this situation go on in the name of Australia. I urge you and your ALP colleagues to take some action.

Regards,

Cameron Tero

Belmont , etc

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Some sense

April 5, 2011

The storm surrounding Kevin Rudd and his admission about ETS negotiations within the Labour Party has drowned out the good sense he talked about refugees last night on Q & A. Asked a question about asylum seeker policy, Kevin’s reaction was to say “let’s put this into context …” And he did – 42 million people worldwide who are refugees, people fleeing violence and strife, with no home.

Let’s repeat those – no home, 42 million.

He called it what it is – a humanitarian emergency that we need to deal with as a global community, where we work together to protect and serve the members of our human family who are most vulnerable. If only we heard this more often from political leaders, our community attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers might not be so bogged down in fear and untruthfulness. The context, the real issues, and the human stories get lost in the barrage of insults about queue jumpers and border protection and let’s face it, plain old selfishness and xenophobia.

As is often the case, it is those who are most vulnerable who very often get hurt the most, and in Australia, we are a long way from a mature public approach to migration and people movement. I wonder if we’ll ever get there?

Others following the former PM’s lead on this one would help.

What they really need

September 13, 2010

A Kenyan bloke I studied with was telling me about some women who had recently arrived from Somalia, and now lived in and around Yokine in the northern suburbs of Perth. A local council was keen to be involved with them, and some community workers got together to cook up some strategies to help these ladies who were still settling in to a new place, far away from home, and having had some dreadful experiences along the way.

They decided a walking group for the women would be good – it would help everyone keep healthy, and help them get to know the places that were around their community. And it would help people form new networks and relationships, with each other and hopefully others. Plans were made, funding sought, and brochures and posters done. Nobody came though. Even with a bigger promotional push, interest was very low.

A number of conversations later, the reasons became much clearer. These women were refugees – they had been walking all their lives. After years of trauma and travelling to escape violence, the last thing they needed or wanted was to walk some more.

Slogans and bumper stickers

August 6, 2010

Sick of ignorant slogans, bad policy and blatant lies by national leaders, a mate and I have written some slogans of our own in an attempt to add our voice to the current public discourse, if you can call it that, about asylum seekers and the Australian community.

I am appalled at our nation’s leaders inability to speak fairly and compassionately about refugees and displaced people. Australia has the resources and the responsibility to take a lead in helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world. As the third wealthiest country on the globe, the wealthiest in our region by a substantial margin, and as a country that has been continually strengthened by various waves of immigration, a welcome rather than a rejection is entirely reasonable.

The bumper stickers are now printed and ready to go, and welcomerefugees.org is up and running.

As well as a place to order bumper stickers, the website gives a valuable perspective about people who are refugees and the way we can respond as an Australian community. The fact sheets provided by GetUp or the Edmund Rice Centre for Social Justice are a good place to start in being more informed, and so are the stories on the SBS “How far we’ve come” website.