My Five Issues – Number 1: Asylum Seekers (Related issues ~ Racism and Minority Groups in Aus)

Those five(?) real-world issues are some of the things that easily get me talking. Not that I need much of an impetus anyway, but. They are also the things that help determine whether or not a political party, say, gets my vote. I speak as a white, young woman – my views are shaped with empathy and probably ignorance too.

The first issue: asylum seekers; or more specifically, how asylum seekers are treated, especially in Australia. (EDIT 12th Oct 2015: This is my main issue it seems; the posts have grown so much I’ve moved most to a separate category titled, ‘Refugees’.)
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Australian government did something pretty damn stupid late last week. They pressured cross-bench senators and got enough to agree to a truly horrible piece of legislation, just in time for the parlimentary recess for the “holidays”.

This article/ open letter basically says everything: http://www.pedestrian.tv/news/arts-and-culture/an-open-letter-to-immigration-minister-scott-morri/cd14b28b-8608-4239-ab1d-7e8b8cfd66eb.htm

Newsflash: asylum seekers are people. They have come from horrendous circumstances, and are searching for somewhere safe to call home. They don’t leave their countries with light hearts. Before asylum seekers stopped being processed, over 90% of arrivals were found to be genuine refugees.

I agree that there needs to be some sort of processing measures in place – but not like this. Never like this.

I say, that what the government are doing, they do not do it in my name, or indeed in the name of many clear-thinking Australians. #We’rebetterthanthis – check out this video and website: http://wbttaus.org/

Compounding this issue is the fact that Australia (speaking generally) still has problems with race. Or rather ethnicity, to be completely, sociologically PC. Speaking extremely broadly, most asylum seekers are from non-English-speaking backgrounds, and are non-white. Many, particularly in the last decade or two, are (sarcastic gasp) Muslim. In other words, to many people (especially, unfortunately, many in govt): The Other. Dun dun dun!

As this article (http://mic.com/articles/105702/neuroscientists-may-have-discovered-how-our-brains-can-overcome-racial-prejudice?utm_source=Mic+Check&utm_campaign=a4dcec69da-Mic_Report_12_5_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_51f2320b33-a4dcec69da-285243449&mc_cid=a4dcec69da&mc_eid=9362b43b31) points out, curing feelings of “them vs. us” and “the other” is fairly simple in theory: get to know more people of diverse backgrounds, and be open-minded about it!

Unfortunately, because we’re humans, prone to making mistakes, we make it difficult. After all, it’s more comfortable to sit in our ethnocentric ivory towers and just “look after our mates”, while pretending to look out for all (isn’t that right, Morrison?).

Edit: http://theaimn.com/morrisons-powers-nobody-will-know-sends-back-killed/ (article from the AIMN for further clarification.)

Of course, Australia is far from alone in its problems with race/ ethnicity and ethnocentric ivory towers.

The fact is, most people want similar things in life: good food & shelter; a steady job; love and support from family and friends; feeling safe in our own communities and homes.

As that great lawyer, Atticus Finch, said: “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
I read To Kill A Mockingbird in Year 10 (and Twelve Angry Men in Year 12). That quote still stays with me.

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