South Australian here. I am no expert, just a very very ordinary Australian and speaking from my own personal (thus quite limited) experience.
1. What is your personal view on the topic of Asylum Seekers and Refugees?
We need to help them as much as we can.
2. Does Catholicism’s view on this topic have an effect on your outlook?
Since my Catholicism is The Gospel, yes it does
3. What particular values taught by Catholicism relate to Refugees and Asylum Seekers?
The parable of the Good Samaritan in response to the question posed to Jesus “who is my neighbour”? Our neighbour is any person whatsoever in need of assistance and refugees and asylum seekers are certainly that. The good Samaritan not only goes out of his way to help an ‘enemy’. He also pauses to help in a dangerous situation where robbers are known to be active. In other words, he undertakes personal risk to assist.
4. What do you think Australia’s view on Refugees and Asylum Seekers is as a country?
As a relatively young country, I think we are trying to do our best as well as keep our borders safe. In today’s world, this is a complex matter. Certainly, those who are truly refugees and asylum seekers need our assistance. The difficulty we have is in housing them while they are processed. Thier difficulty will be, once they are processed and admitted to Australia, finding paid employment and then housing. And until they find employment, paying for accommodation in a quite expensive rental market.
Those in opposition (Liberal government) seeking political mileage out of the situation are no help whatsoever - rather totally to the contrary.
5. Do you think Catholicism has a major effect on India’s view on refuges and asylum seekers?
I dont know much about the politics in India, but my feelings are that The Church is not having much influence.
**6. From your experiences would you say Australia is more or less welcoming to **
Refugees and Asylum Seekers than other countries around the world?
I thinik we are less welcoming than some countries and this is brought about by complex factors.
**7. Once refugees and asylum seekers are allowed entry to Australia do you think they **are embraced as part of the country or segregated as an outcast group?
A difficult question. Certainly, I think there are still racist attitudes here in Australia. This affects our refugees often and they are uncertain of whether they will be generally welcomed or not and tend, therefore, to associate with their own cultures here moreso than freely mixing with long time Australians. In turn, some long time Australians are uncertain of our refugees attitudes towards them and hence tend not to seek friendships amongst refugees and asylum seekers. I think both groups tend to look on each other uncertainly and with suspicion sadly. Doubltess media here is not much help in this either. Bad news sells and media knows it and to my mind fosters this uncertainty and suspicion rather than assisting us to deal with it and get over it.
More generally, the majority of long time Australians, I feel, are very welcoming towards refugees. Sadly it is the racist element and a minority that get most publicity.
We probably have a situation here similar to when we had many Italian and Greek migrants and there was discrimination against them prevailing. Over time, this discrimination ceased and migrants became long time Australians and fully integrated and accepted. It will take time and effort to break down walls between us - and constructed by both groups (long timeAustralians/refugees, asylum seekers).
The problem we and any government have here in Australia is that we were and are totally unprepared for the massive influx relatively speaking of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers. This has come at a time when economically we are still struggling ‘to stand on our two feet’ after the GFC.
We are looking at Federal elections in September this year and it does look like a change of government without, I feel, the majority of ordinary Australians having any idea whatsoever of the policies of the opposition which probably might/will assume government in September. All that most Australians I speak to are aware of is that ‘the devil they dont know will be better than the devil they do know’.:shrug: What will happin in Australia post September in all areas, including the plight of our refugees and asylum seekers, only truly the Good Lord knows.
8. How does the community support Refugees and Asylum Seekers in any possible way?
There isa movement at the moment asking long time Australians with a spare bedroom to accept a refugee or asylum seeker as a boarder. This seems to be something new and remains to be seen how long time Australians might respond. We can certainly all respond with donations and I think that Australians are particularly generous in doing so. Many Australians do respond by trying to be quite friendly.
I also think that, politically, support groups for refugees and asylum seekers will eventually have real impact and change a currently rather unhealthy situation here due to minority racist elements and media advertising them. Bad publicity is indeed good publicity and ‘applause’. It is a situation that needs time, patience and consistent and focused address before we could be regarded as a truly welcoming country to refugees and asylum seekers. It needs our media to be constructive in the situation rather than fostering, even encouraging, what is destructive in the endless drive for sensationalism to sell ‘media print’ however we receive it.
Mostly, it will take daily and heartfelt prayer until we can be regarded as true Good Samaritans for our refugees and asylum seekers.
9. Where do the majority of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Australia come from
Middle East and African countries in the main I think, via Indonesia, on boats at times. Many do come via legal means.