So, I haven’t been around for a week, pesky life with all its trials and tribulations have halted my blog musings and inspiration. But I’m back! And I had originally decided to write about asylum seekers. Yes, that pesky subject I get banned from yelling about at public dinners, get shot down for mentioning on Facebook and feel like slitting my wrists at night when I’ve spoken to people near and dear to me who don’t seem to give a shit about people desperate enough to leave their homes and come over to Australia in search of freedom and safety.
Why am I bothering, you ask? All you people (yes, the three of you who have promised you read this) probably aren’t the issue here are you? And also, apparently blogs should be short and sweet and talking about this is going to take all day…
Refugee and asylum seeker issues are really complex and tricky to navigate – mostly because people don’t understand the law, and they are fearful of the unknown. I apologise if this offends you – my aim isn’t to read my three readers like they are dumb, I know for sure that actually, you’re all quite clever. I use this tone for this article to hammer the point home, nothing more.
What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?
An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status is not yet determined. Ie – in Australia, people coming across in unregistered boats are asylum seekers, as their claim for refuge has not yet been processed. For everyone out there who says they disagree with this definition, nice one chumps, this isn’t an opinion, it is a FACT.
A refugee is someone who has been recognised under the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and is anyone who is fearful of being persecuted and cannot stay where they are in danger of being persecuted.
So both refugees and asylum seekers have the right to come to Australia. Both groups have the right to seek protection and safety in Australia, there is nothing illegal about this.
Note: an economic migrant normally leaves a country in order to seek a better life somewhere else. We are not discussing economic migrants here – we are discussing refugees and asylum seekers.
So douchebags arguing that people are coming across on illegal boats calling themselves refugees and asylum seekers just to get the dole and a cushy living go read blogs elsewhere!
Evidence shows, proves, hammers into our heads etc that in the height if the War on Terror (seriously I don’t have time, use Google) 97% of Iraqi and Afghan applicants who arrived by boat were granted refugee status, during the Pacific Solution (again, use Google but shit job John Howard) 70% of people who were detained in Nauru and Manus were found to be refugees and in the last 2 years, 91% of illegal boat people were granted refugee status – so suck it – references here on page 8.
In reality, it would take 149 years to fill the MCG once with asylum seekers coming by boat. BOOM.
This tiny, minute infographic also demonstrates the tiny amount of people we get seeking asylum by boat and in general in Australia… so what the fuck is the big deal?!
Ok, so what about queue jumpers then? Surely they should be taken out and shot for jumping the queue? Suck it again idiots, there is NO SUCH THING AS A QUEUE.
Seriously, there is no queue. And no, this is not my opinion. It is a FACT. The concept of an orderly queue does not accord with the reality of the asylum process.
“Implicit in this view is that Australia should not be bothered by people seeking asylum under the Refugee Convention and that genuine refugees should go to other counties and wait patiently in the hope that Australia may choose to settle them.” Paul Power, CEO of Refugee Council of Australia (see link here.)
I’m sorry, what? Refugee Convention? Yep, The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR) is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. So did Australia sign this convention? YES. We also have some other you know, important obligations… LEGALLY. AS IN WE MUST. These obligations include a shitload for human rights (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention against Torture, etc etc and then all these protocols to these treaties).
So in terms of how we treat asylum seekers and refugees, we actually have to treat them like they are human beings. The argument that they chose to come here illegally, and deserve to be punished for it, is wrong. The argument that they deserve to be locked up with no way of knowing if their status as a refugee is being processed is wrong. Do you know how long it takes our country to process these humans? It takes so long we have all this time to create pictures about how long it takes…
See that blue circle on the bottom left? WTF.
Some more common (dickhead) myths about asylum seekers and refugees:
– they get a cushy life in Australia and take all our jobs and live off welfare and shit
Well, they either live off welfare or they take your jobs. It can’t be both. Many refugees and asylum seekers are skilled workers with qualifications and degrees/ experience in the workforce. Quantitative data, and anecdotal evidence demonstrates that when granted visas for Australia, asylum seekers and refugees integrate into society and contribute positively to our society. And on to welfare. No asylum seekers are eligible for Centrelink payments of any kind. A small percentage of asylum seekers get access to the Red Cross Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme for a limited period of time. This scheme provides for an income that is 89% of what a person would get if receiving Newstart Allowance. Permanent refugees are eligible to receive Centrelink but just at the same rate as an Australian permanent resident, and they don’t steal it off someone else eligible for the allowance.
– we are generous with how many refugees we take in Australia
Right now, Syria has 2million refugees because of civil war (again – have you heard of this? If not, Google it – just because the first world isn’t openly fighting in it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening) and we have committed to take 500 refugees. Out of 2million. Just 500. Get it yet?
– Australia has no room, or money, or anything to take care of these people, we are full. Full of shit.
Australia provides just 13,750 places each year in total for refugee and humanitarian entrants to Australia. This figure includes all people who we receive onshore and offshore and by boat. Refugee and humanitarian entrants make up just 6.6% of the places in our overall permanent immigration program in 2010. The lowest it’s been since 1975. And remember all those dudes/ chicks you met last weekend at the pub with British accents? They flew over and are overstaying their temporary visas… they are more illegal than the refugees. Why aren’t you complaining about them?!
Lastly. Even if you have disagreed with some of the above:
Please think about this – Our asylum seeker policies in Australia are breaking people. Political rhetoric from all sides of politics (doesn’t matter if you’re red or blue, they all speak the same language on this) is based on fear, fear and more fear. If we are worried about losing our jobs, our money, our space, our way of living and our easy way of life – we won’t be asking for the truth.
In this country, we rarely question the status quo and ask about the people on the boats, the people who are so scared they run away from the only place they have called home to a strange destination where they know they’ll be separated from their wives/husbands/children, put into jail and treated worse than our actual criminals.
On Manus Island last week, a man was killed in a riot. 77 asylum seekers had been injured. Oh, you think these people normally just riot for no reason? They fled from violence, why do they want it here? The answer is they don’t. The reason is they are desperate, they are damaged and they are hurt. It is not a case of us versus them – that shouldn’t even be a factor.
Google the long list of things that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gave to the Abbott Government and recommended to change. To change so Australia wasn’t breaking International Human Rights Laws. Oh, did I mention children are there? Yep, on Manus Island. Kids.
We already know from a study conducted 10 years ago (and fucking common sense I might add) that being placed into detention affects the health, well being and development of children. It also contravenes our Human Rights laws.
And now I’m exhausted and have lost track of the argument, although I think it is pretty clear. There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker. We can afford to process them and grant them visas for living and working in our country. We have a legal responsibility to protect their human rights. We have a moral responsibility to protect them from harm.
Thanks to those who read this diatribe, I hope it filled you with the desire to do something about this issue. And for those who think I just pull shit out my arse – I won’t bore you with my education, but I’ll give you one (note this isn’t hippy propaganda, the stats and research is from the government):