Friday, April 03, 2015

Take A Stand. Raise Your Voice. Join The March - Movement Towards A Fair Australia For The Asylum Seeker Debate

There was a massive march through Melbourne on Sunday, with 15,000 people using their feet and voices, to raise the need for change about how Australia treats asylum seekers and refugees. This was echoed around the country, and the world, as people gathered in cities such as Perth, Canberra, Darwin and Adelaide, to march as well. Plus, ex-pats and concerned world citizens posted gatherings protesting about the policy of prolonged detention by Australia on various social media.

The momentum feels like it is growing, and the tide turning towards a more compassionate Australian public, little by little.

Apart from marching on this one day, here are a few other little actions you can take on, to help make a difference and keep this movement towards a more just approach to asylum seekers going:

Read more widely. Currently, our government has bans on the information coming out of the detention centres, and the mainstream media seems to support this wholeheartedly. The need to read more widely, from a range of different sources, to find out the truth about what is actually going on, and wade through the different opinions and thoughts on the debate, has been thrust upon us.
Also read the two reports on the situation of detention in Nauru, released very recently - firstly, the Australian Human Rights Commission's The Forgotten Children report, and then the damning Moss Review into the allegation of sexual abuse in the Australian detention centre. The evidence speaks for itself.

Know the facts. There is so much politicised language being repeatedly used in this debate, that the truth and humanity about the issue gets lost, intentionally, I am sure. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Hot Potato Fact Sheet will help you here, to be armed with the truth about the numbers, the costs, the "queue", and the fear being sold to the public.

Read about some of the places and issues people are fleeing from. Places like Syria and Iraq and Palestine are in the news frequently, and so it should be easy to review your understanding about these situations. Issues faced by the Rohingya and Tamils in Sri Lanka are not so widely covered in the present media, and might be a little harder to find, so I have linked a couple of my posts there to get you started.

Write to your local MP, or let them know your thoughts on the debate. At the end of the march in Melbourne, advocate Pamela Curr urged people to go and visit the office of their local government representative and tell them that you care about the way Australia is mistreating people in detention. She said that MPs say they rarely hear about the asylum seeker debate from their constituents.
You can also write to them, which I have done, to let them know your thoughts and concerns. This site, They Vote For You, will tell you where your Member sits on the issues debated in parliament, and thus will help you shape your appeal or congratulations, on a humane stance towards the people turning to Australia for assistance and protection.
I now await a response from mine, which included an offer to meet and chat about my work experience to help inform her of the situation.

Get to know someone for whom these policies affect directly. Visit someone in detention. There are people held all around Australia, some for years and years without release nor information about why they are being detained, with very little to do, and fast dwindling hope and faith in the good of the world. You can go and spend an hour or two with someone, and make a difference in their day. And in yours, while you are at it!
Several asylum seeker agencies and advocacy groups around the country can assist with this, like DASSAN in Darwin, who have a great program in place. You will be supported, and have peer meet ups, to ensure you are well equipped and supported when doing this.
There are actually many ways you can spend time with people who are asylum seekers or refugees in our community, too - join a Welcome Group event or program, sign up for The Welcome Dinner Project, become a tutor to school children in the community. The possibilities are endless, when you start looking!

Oh! And you can share this post! Tell other people how they too, can get active in the debate and fight for change.

I would love to hear how this post has inspired action, if it has - please drop back and let me know what your MP said in response, or tell me about a visit you have made. Share a conversation you've had where you have helped someone see things differently, or tell me about a situation you have read up on that you didn't know about before!



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