Questions about Refugees and Asylum Seekers


#1

I am an school student looking for an Australian to answer the following questions about refugees and asylum seekers.

  1. What is your personal view on the topic of Asylum Seekers and Refugees?
  2. Does Catholicism’s view on this topic have an effect on your outlook?
  3. What particular values taught by Catholicism relate to Refugees and Asylum Seekers?
  4. What do you think Australia’s view on Refugees and Asylum Seekers is as a country?
  5. Do you think Catholicism has a major effect on India’s view on refuges and asylum seekers?
  6. From your experiences would you say Australia is more or less welcoming to Refugees and Asylum Seekers than other countries around the world?
  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?
  8. How does the community support Refugees and Asylum Seekers in any possible way?
  9. Where do the majority of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Australia come from?

#2

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.


#3

Thanks a lot those answers were extremely helpful


#4

#5

I am curious if anyone knows if Asylum seekers can seek safety and help from Rome / The Vatican ? Same for Refugees ?


#6

I think that probably if they did seek help from Rome, they would be directed to a helping agency for refugees and asylum seekers in Rome, or wherever they may be located. There are Catholic agencies all over the world set up for this purpose. The Catholic Church is a massive organization with many outreaches set up for specific purposes and needs of all kinds. Some are run by religious orders, others by lay people, or even a mixture of both :

The Jesuits in Rome for refugee/asylum seeker assistance, for example: facebook.com/JesuitRefugeeService/info


#7

Sorry for the confusion in question 5, I’ve made a mistake the question should read:

  1. Do you think Catholicism has a major effect on Australia’s view on refuges and asylum seekers?

#8

I think it has some impact and could have increasing impact. I don’t think it has had major impact. Certainly, there are advocacy groups that are not Catholic that are also having some impact. These do share beliefs of Catholicism re human rights in this subject without direct connections to Catholicism in any way - to my knowledge. Personally, I think we have a long way to go yet in Australia before we could be considered as a people seeking in general to extend welcome and assistance to our refugees and asylum seekers. It will take time and consistent focus, perseverance. The actual walls between us need to be identified and then a focus on removing them.
Raising and provoking fears in our community by some sections are having a bigger impact, I fear. We are afraid of loosing what we have and unwilling to take risks in that direction, or worse, seeing (falsely) a direct connection between our refugees and asylum seekers and actual loosing what we have re standard of living, boarder securitiy and other securities. Human rights and protecting them is low down on our real priorities. We are a rich country and grown accustomed in many instances to a relatively speaking high standard of living and greed and selfishness are high on our list of priorities. And politics is all about winning the vote of the majority and what the people want is what the people will get. It is very true that we get the politicians we deserve - or I would replace “deserve” with “want”.
We can be a very generous and welcoming people and basically I think that we are still; however in this particular subject under discussion, I think we have much more work to be done.

With many there seems to be an inability and unwillingness to empathize with refugees and asylum seekers - to put oneself in their position.

None of this need be a forever statement. But if one does not recognize and own what one’s problem actually is and as a problem, how can one in the normal course overcome it? I am not at all sure that my own conclusions are correct, other than we do have a lot of work to be done still re our refugees and asylum seekers.

All in my opinion only.


#9

I am not Australian and so will not attempt to answer the (very thoughtful) questions.

I would however observe that there are two different types of refugees - something which is not widely understood. these are: spontaneous refugees (i.e. those arriving in a country of their own accord) and quota refugees (those “pre-screened” by the UN High commission for refugees and generally accepted from camps by a country based on its “quota”).

Also of interest may be the definition of “refugee” under the 1951 international Refugee Convention: “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” An asylum seeker is required to meet this criteria before they can be considered a refugee.


#10

I can’t say I do. I can’t recall having heard catholicism and refugees in the one sentence. There are a couple of things on google. CatholicCare has a Refugee and Settlement Program and I see on google there is the Australian Migrant and Refugee Office. Neither of these services have I heard of before. T

In the last census in 2011 25% of the population identified as being Catholic but the difficulty is what percentage actually practice. Because we aren’t an overly Catholic country I don’t believe Catholicism has had much effect on Australian’s views concerning refugees. But I also live in a rural area so those in the metro areas might notice some effect, but I don’t come across too many refugees in my area.


#11

I think that may be improving slightly but the difficulty I believe that many Australians are facing is the apparent gap in culture between many refugees and the Australian way of life. We don’t tend to take kindly to cultures that view woman as second class citizens, migrant groups that like to protest every now and again. A common theme that I hear is pretty much ‘if you don’t like it go back to where you came from’. We don’t take kindly to whingers, antagonists, certain ethnic groups that make their own gangs, migrant groups that hate other migrant groups and have been known to have ethnic turf wars. And we have had such a surge in the last decade of boat people that pretty much in some circles the view is anyone can jump in a dingy and row to Australia and try and bypass normal refugee and migrant processes, that I think many Australian’s are getting a bit sick of this, and seeing every now and then on the new those in detention centres rioting.

Australians I believe in many sections of our society try to hold tight to Australian values and culture and yes I think many fear an erosion of this, and I do too.


#12

Like most questions involving politics and ethics, there is always a shade of gray. I think the allies were morally right for example to oppose Nazism in World War II, but were we right in carpet bombing German cities, and firebombing Tokyo?

The problem with trying to answer that question is that most of us weren’t there, so we’re armchair critics.

We’re armchair critics in this area as well. How many of us have had to live in a refugee camp for years? I was talking to a young African the other day who now works with disabled people. He told me he spent ten years in a refugee camp, and the government in that country there didn’t care much either… He and his family came out as legal refugees, but they waited a very long time.

Most of us are not actively involved with refugees, and for all the stories I hear about refugees being given pots of money, being put first in line for housing etc, I wonder if they’re true. I remember helping one African family to fill out paperwork to “sponsor” another family (which means they take on a lot of the financial burden instead of the government aka taxpayer) and they were going to take out a loan for around $10,000 just to fly the other family to Australia. They had to pay for it, with interest.

My main concern with migrants right now is how many are Moslems, who have demonstrated a propensity for violence when it suits them, and when there’s enough of them. I’m not a fan of “mutliculturalism”, where we’re all supposed to become one big happy family. This might be all right if times are relatively good, and most people are doing OK. But if times get tough, or if war breaks out, what then? Where will their allegiances lie?

Fiji comes to mind - we might look askance at the military dictatorship which has been in vogue the last few years, but the reality is that it’s a racial and economic problem - the Indians, who began as labourers under the British colonialists, are now nearly as numerous as the native Fijians. They also own the businesses and have the financial clout, compared to the more easy going Islanders. The result is resentment and tension, followed by a military takeover. This is what happens when “multiculturalism” gets out of hand. We seem to have forgotten the support the jingoistic Pauline Hanson had amongst ordinary Australians just a few years ago when she stood on a platform of what might be called “anti Asianism”.

Compared to the refugee problems faced by some other nations, the problem of “boat people” being smuggled into Australia (which is the main bone of contention) is negligible. Going on current rates, it would appear about 7000 people will arrive in Australia by boat this year. This is the only way they can get here, except by overstaying visas after flying in, since we share no land borders with anyone else.

By comparison, according to WIkipedia, the US has about half a million illegal immigrants each year, many of them across the very long border with Mexico.

I suppose the way to stop being armchair critics would be to get more involved in some organisation which helps refugees, or tries to solve the root causes of refugee problems in the first place.

As for Catholicism having an effect - I know social justice issues are taught in Catholic Schools, which should have some moral influence on the students. No doubt the Bishops are active in putting across the church’s point of view to government officials. But whether this is instrumental would be impossible to measure - there are other groups, often Christian based, which also have an effect.


#13

This LINK Catholic Australia may or may not help you with your questions


#14

There is truth in what you say, I think; however, if one empathisizes it would be a shock to come from one culture as a refugee or asylum seeker, hence left out of fear - to suddenly find oneself in another culture entirely and totally foreign to one’s own. It will take time for refugee’s etc. to adjust to Australian culture - time, and a willingness to be patient and extend kindness rather than negativity towards them. This culture divide is one of the walls that separate us.

Where gangs are formed and one ethnic group is against another ethnic group, nine times out of ten, I suspect, refugees and asylum seekers are settled in areas where similar problems exist with long time Australians, especially our youth. I suspect that refugees etc. especially the young take it as a ‘for granted’ that such things are the norm in Australia. I had this experience when I lived in a poverty stricken area beset by every social problem imaginable. Not only amongs refugees and asylum seekers but from youth in long term Austrlian families that had grown up with violence and socially unacceptable practises. Such long term Australian youth took it as a norm - they way things are. It seemed to me that refugees and asylum seekers thus thought it was the way things are. I was never discriminated against by these groups despite the fact I thought totally differently and acted differently. My hope is that somehow, I may have had some influence perhaps not in the immediate, but at some time perhpas in the future.

If we do extend negative and verbally violent comments towards them this can only escalate the problems between us, for violence will breed violence. I think we neede a change of attitude and perspective or things will not change merely escalate, I fear. And to effect change, one needs to start with oneself. We need to be able to differentiate, from sound sources, the difference between the myths and the reality of the situation. (see link below)

As I said previously, false information through media creates sensationalism which does sell media print, however we receive it. It is very true that bad news will sell. This bad information and the myths are being spread amongst Australian by word of mouth and other means (‘shock jocks’ on radio for example), it seems to me, with nothing that I have come across of effort to research and ensure that this information is fact, nor what the facts might be.

As Catholics and followers of The Gospel we are challenged, by the Gospel, to be welcoming of strangers and those in need and we need to take up this challenge, to my mind, and have Faith and trust in Jesus and His Gospel. We can either trust Him all the way or only now and then when it suits. One of the features of the parable of the Good Samaritan is not only that every perso is our neighbour we are called to love, but that we should assist even at risk to oneself - for the good Samaritan stops and assists in an area known to be dangerous due to violent robbers being prevalent. It was an area normally one hurried through speedily.

This is the Gospel.

We are either going to be followers of The Gospel, or we are not. We are either going to be ‘cafeteria Catholics’ or we are going to embrace the whole of Catholicism, which is The Gospel.

Bob Crowley :
Compared to the refugee problems faced by some other nations, the problem of “boat people” being smuggled into Australia (which is the main bone of contention) is negligible. Going on current rates, it would appear about 7000 people will arrive in Australia by boat this year. This is the only way they can get here, except by overstaying visas after flying in, since we share no land borders with anyone else.

Very true.
refugeecouncil.org.au/f/myth-long.php “Myths about Refugees and Asylum Seekers”

I was watching a documentary on Syrian refugees pouring into Lebanon daily - nytimes.com/2013/02/24/world/middleeast/syrian-flood-into-lebanon-stirs-fear-of-looming-disaster.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 and was amazed at how Lebanon was seeking with all means possible, it seemed to me from the documentary, to provide housing and necessities as their refugee intake seemed to be bursting Lebanon at the seams., and I felt a little ashamed.


#15

It is worth checking out the link following, which addresses prevailing myths in Australia.
refugeecouncil.org.au/a/who.php


#16

I’m slightly surprised that all Muslims are considered untrustworthy by you. Refugees leave their homes with nothing at all it is our duty to assist. Australia like America was colonised by Europeans who now demand that all the inhabitants of these continents abide by their cultural mores. What an odd world we live, so much collective amnesia
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#17

If this is a school project it should be noted that online forums are not a good resource (I know none of my teachers.instructors/profs ever accepted them.). Whenever we received assignments like this, the purpose of the assignment was to get us out and to actually interview people and practice our listening skills. I suspect that such is the purpose of this assignment too.


closed #18

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