Do what I say, not what I do…

australianasylumseekerPIN IT

I’m absolutely gutted and horrified by Australia’s new anti-asylum seeker “policies,” it breaks my heart that this is considered a win to some Australians…  I am shocked that our government thinks that this sort of policy will win votes this election year. It certainly won’t win my vote, that’s for sure. I do vote. Do you?

I am pretty much speechless that this is considered as the direction that the people of Australia want to go when it comes to the “issue” of asylum seekers. I see the issue is more of humanity and asking, how can we help? Not how can we protect ourselves from the helpless… I am an Australian. I was born and raised here and I will stand up and shout loud, ‘this is NOT what I want.’ I am ashamed by the tens of millions of dollars that the Australian Government is spending on the disgusting “You Wont Be Settled in Australia” campaign and I am shocked that it is getting any support whatsoever.

How on earth are we supposed to be able to teach our children to be gentle, empathetic human beings when we can’t practice what we preach? How can we teach our children to share when we can’t show them what sharing truly is? We say to them, do what I say not what I do as we tell them to share and to be kind and we push suffering people away from safety and into danger… when we have plenty to go around.

Where is the hope in any of that? The only thing that separates us from the people who are seeking asylum in our country is where we were born, that’s it… nothing else. It was just luck of the draw. We could so easily have been on the other side of this coin. Each and every one of us. Our children could be those children on those boats, or trapped in the dangerous refugee camps in PNG… we could be the ones trying to find safety for our families, we could be the ones holding out our hands and begging for help… they could be our children suffering.

Seeking asylum is a human right.

I don’t think there is a single person on this planet who wishes to be in a position to exercise this right. But there are many, many human beings who need to. Because of where they were born. Because of the families they were born into. Because of gender and politics and war.

We are lucky enough to live where we have a lot of opportunity. Who are we to say no to those who have less than us? Who are we to turn our backs on our fellow man and woman and say, no, we won’t help you in your time of need. Who the hell do we think we are?

So many Australians are so ambivalent to it all and it’s really starting to grate on my nerves. It’s the Australian way to shrug it off and just kick back and relax. And that’s fabulous, a lot of the time. It makes for great backyard barbeques and a wonderfully carefree way of life. But it’s not great when it comes to things that really matter. The amount of Australians that say to me “Politics? Oh I don’t give a shit about politics…” because that’s what’s expected of us… to just relax, man. But you know what? We should care. We really ought to give a shit. Because this MATTERS. It matters for me and for you and for the future of our children. It matters to the women and the men and the little kids who are scared and trying to find safety. It matters to all of us. We do not live on separate planets. We are all made of the same stuff, sharing the same earth. What we do matters. What we all do makes an enormous difference to the future of every other human being on this earth. This matters.

Doesn’t it matter to you as an Australian?

If you are elsewhere in the world, what do YOU think about all of this? Does it matter to you?

Interested in some further reading? I’d suggest you have a look at these articles here, here and here as a starting point and start forming your own opinion, today.

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  • August 5, 2013 - 5:17 am

    Lila - It matters a lot and I’ve actually spent time in tears of anger and frustration over this. One of my daughters’ friends came on a boat as an unaccompanied minor. He was held in detention which has clearly affected him, and when he was released he was 18. They tell him he doesn’t need his family to join him. It just breaks my heart.
    The poor guy just wants to give to this country, he wants to be a police officer but the mental anguish caused in detention and from not having his family means he passed every test except the psych. It seems impossible to find a legal way to reunite him with his family, and the fact that he is one of the lucky ones who made it alive and got to stay only makes it more heartbreaking.
    I just can’t see why other Australians can’t see that these are people, lovely people who have lots to give to our communities.ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 5:53 am

    ecky1808 - I’m not Australian (yet or if ever) but I agree it’s a matter of humanity but I have a friend who is working in immigration, he gave me inside there are hundreds of thousands of people in war zone countries who actually needed the visa more than the boat people because they are too poor and can’t afford to pay to be in the boat so they are waiting for the “legal” process for years while the government processing the boat people and spending $450.000/person, that information surely give me different perspective on the new policy.ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 5:54 am

    ecky1808 - Oh I mean he gave me insightReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 8:43 am

    Kylie - Hi Sash- Ive recently started following your blog and really enjoy reading your posts (and gorgeous photos of your daughter). I too am a mother and have been absolutely horrified and so sad for the loss of lives (especially innocent children) in this whole fiasco. I totally disagree with what Rudd has done (amongst many other of their ill thought out policies) and feel that PNG has been a part of their pre election tick a box campaign with absolutely no thought of consequence just to try and win votes and make the public think they are addressing the problem-which they aren’t . I do believe however, that there needs to be a stop to refugees entering Australian borders illegally. There are proper channels that are there to allow for refugees to come in ( I also agree with what Ecky1808 has said). I ABSOLUTELY agree that everyone is entitled to seek refuge, and we are so incredibly lucky to live in a country where we are free to do and think what we want. To be able to write this comment is a luxury which I dont ever take for granted. I also think immigrants bring a huge amount to building our diverse culture within this lucky country. I want my children to grow up knowing other cultures and learning to accept people for who they are, what they look like and where they come from. I think the main issue of the situation is being overlooked- We need to punish and get rid of the people smugglers. Without the option to get here illegally, we wouldnt be facing the amount of deaths and boats sinking that we do. Notice that the boat sinks and the smugglers have other boats come and rescue the culprits but leave the innocent ones to die in the ocean- them walk away with millions they have made per boat load. I dont think anyone disputes that these poor people seeking refuge dont deserve a chance nor the opportunity to resettle- for them to pay that money to escape must mean life is hell back where they come from. Its just there is a right way and a wrong way. I think our Govt (whoever it ends up being and hopefully not Rudd) needs to take a strong stance and protect our borders. Sadly until the message reaches back to the source there will be more lives lost. I dont wish for refugees to be locked away and treated like criminals or animals- I cringe thinking of the rape and other abuse that has happened internally- and I certainly dont want children separated from parents and siblings. Its a very complex issue and sadly one that involves two of the greatest gifts of all- life and freedom. Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts….ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 8:57 am

    Lilybett - During high school, I saw the first influx if Sudanese refugees into my small city in NSW. Some came to school with me and my brothers. One of the boys coming in my year had knife scars on his arms and legs and a fist sized scar on his belly where a bullet had passed straight through his flesh. and festered. Fourteen years old. Half his family were dead and a quarter missing. He didn’t know where two of his sisters were. Or even IF they were.

    These people were “legitimite” refugees; they had arrived the “right” way but people still treated them as if they were stealing something from Australian citizens.

    The whole system from beginning to end is flawed, but I feel it’s fairly flawed in just about every country where people go to seek asylum – whether they walk across a desert border and live in a tent city where running water is rare, or they cling to the undercarriages of trucks or are kept in detention in paradise or hell. Foreign policy and foreign aid needs to be better in the first instance to try to reduce the need for people to flee their home countries – and it frustrates me that so many Australians see that as a waste of time and resources. Problems in small or large countries on the other side of the world are all of our problem. They shouldn’t have to come any where near Australian soil or Australian waters to matter to Australian citizens.ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 9:05 am

    Lila - I don’t mean to barge in again. But reading the other comments has made me a little sad that people are being misdirected in this country about asylum seekers.
    Do apply for asylum the “proper” way there needs to be an embassy in the country you are trying to escape or it would be extremely unsafe to attempt to get there.
    There is nothing illegal about trying to approach Australia in a boat and far more people come via plane than boat (incidentally those who come by boat are a much higher proportion of successful claim than by plane).
    I’m so disappointed that this misinformation is what people learn to believe. And even sadder that people feel we don’t have space to share when we have more space and resources per capita than countries who take in millions more people than we do.
    Please feel free to delete my comment if you feel I’ve taken over or it’s inappropriate to the conversation Sash.ReplyCancel

    • August 6, 2013 - 5:02 pm

      Janes.Alias - I must agree with Sash.. I do not live in Australlia. I DO live in a Country where MANY seek ‘asylum’ by paper plane or boat –I have watched the Small Town I GREW UP IN as a child, turn into a place where I, and my family, the people that started this little Town, has been taken over completely by refugees. Do I live there anymore, NO. do I agree with my country’s decisions all the time not stopping these people from entering NO. Do I make a LARGE amount of money a year NO. (Average).
      POINT: I AM A HUMAN BEING. and so are these refugees…. There is a right behind ALL GOVERNING RIGHTS and that is of the HUMAN NATURE. The Problem is NOT JUST Australlias, it is a GLOBAL matter!!! Somewhere along the roads of pretty houses, bank accounts and stuffy number crunching jobs we ALL HAVE FORGOTTEN WE ARE Only Human. We have zero connection to human nature anymore. Been whisked away by political terms, paperworks, $$$$$, and the Fear Of The Unknown. Another thing, I think it might just be the actually WORDS they offer as a slogan which might hurt.
      No one knows what these people have been through. NONE OF US I AM positive, could SURVIVE A Second in THEIR SHOES.
      No one.
      Thanks and feel free to delete too…ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 9:22 am

    Karen - I agree completely with you. It’s such a horrible state of affairs, more Aussies need to speak out about it. I fear the future generations will look back with the same feelings of disgust and shame that we do about things like the stolen generation. x KarenReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 9:33 am

    bron@babyspace - yes, I do care very much — so much so that I went on a little off-topic meandering ponder on le blog:

    three (more) things.

    1) I don’t think it’s just people not caring with a laid-back aussie attitude — it’s that even people who do care feel that:

    a) we need to ‘protect’ our borders. this makes me really sad. we have enough room. it is our responsibility to bring people in who need asylum. get over it australia.

    b) we need to take extreme measures to stop people smugglers. I don’t like the concept of people smuggling either but people smugglers will exist as long as people need to flee. there is no easy answer to this and punishing the people fleeing because of the middle man is plain wrong.

    2) some australians really do not want poor, damaged foreigners and are afraid of them. this is the sad truth. some people are ignorant and scared. too scared to want to share and help.


  • August 5, 2013 - 10:39 am

    eva - Sash, I agree with everything you’ve written in this post. We can’t teach out children empathy, kindness, sharing, and other positive behaviours if we can’t model them ourselves and if we live in a society that encourages selfishness, fear and discrimination. I am also horrified at the state of political discourse in our country and ashamed that we are using people in need as the proverbial ‘political football.’ Neither of the major parties will be getting my support in this election — I will be voting for a candidate that values fairness and compassion.
    I don’t know when we became so selfish and ignorant, but it is saddening. We have so much to be thankful for here in Australia and the vast majority of people living in this country, especially those born here, have no true understanding of hardship and horror and I believe that lack of understanding makes us inured to the hardship and horror that millions of others around the world experience on an every day basis. It’s normal human behaviour to try and seek a safe place for you and your family, and if anything ever happened in Australia where we were subject to violence and persecution, I feel pretty confident that most Australians would want to know that there was another country somewhere that would accept them and their family and give us somewhere safe to live, together as a family unit, without further fear of persecution.
    I also agree with Bron@babyspace’s comment – people smugglers will exist as long as there are people to smuggle. We shouldn’t be punishing people for trying to get their family to safety, regardless of how they choose to do it. Maybe we should instead be spending the $1.1 BILLION that we are going to spend on the ‘PNG solution’ on setting up more ‘legal’ channels for people to apply for asylum and put the people smugglers out of business that way.ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 12:11 pm

    Jess - This just breaks my heart and makes me sick to the stomach 🙁 what really gets to me is that even by voicing our opinions at the polls the two main parties have such arrogant a**holes as leaders that our country is going to be run by these bigots. The only bright side of this whole situation is that people such as yourself are standing up against it, thank the universe for the Internet! Not only that but our children will be growing up learning from us, I just wish it wasn’t in this sort of political climate 🙁
    I watched most of Go Back to Where you came from on sbs (still have more to go) and it made me cry, I wanted so badly for all the people suffering to enjoy the simple pleasures that we get to purely because we were lucky enough to be born here.ReplyCancel

  • August 6, 2013 - 8:43 am

    Rachel - They are doing something similar in the UK at the moment with an advertising campaign on vans telling illegal immigrants to go home. Apparently they’re doing random spot checks on anyone who isn’t white at train stations and they’re doing live updates on twitter whenever they arrest someone.

    It really makes me feel ashamed to be from a country with such an apparently racist government. It was so hard getting a visa for my husband to go back to the UK with us just for a month to visit family – so much money and hassle and his first visa was refused because they didn’t believe he just wanted to visit and said they thought he would try to stay and work, despite him having his own business here! I’m actually embarrassed that they think the UK is such a great place to be that they make it so difficult for mixed families. And yet as a British citizen, I have been welcomed around the world with open arms (and usually for free), whatever my work status or financial situation may be.ReplyCancel

  • August 8, 2013 - 12:21 pm

    Julie - I just feel so very very sad. Tamika and I were talking about it when we first heard the policy. We both said similar things such as “surely there will be huge public out cry”. and “why would the government do this so close to an election?”

    I am sicked and saddened there has been no huge public outcry. Does this mean there are people in this country who think this is a good policy. Oh how that make my heart hurt.ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2013 - 9:33 pm

    Link Day Friday | It’s Time Its Time | j9sopinion - […] of her blogs natural exterior beauty, Sash expresses herself passionately on issues important to her, and her readers.  As an Australian born woman she offers thought and conversational […]ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    Arna - It is horrifying. I must be truly living with my head in the clouds because I honestly believed that the next policy change by this Australian government would be for the benefit of refugees. TO ASSIST THEM IN FINDING A SAFE HAVEN. I had been feeling quietly confident that the people wishing to ‘close the gates” on asylum seekers were becoming the minority. I am disappointed, deflated and feel disempowered – which is nothing compared to the feelings of those people who are seeking refuge.ReplyCancel

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