As has sadly become routine, news on Australia’s treatment of refugees is never-ending … and never good.
There are some within the current Australian population who remain concerned about the COST of processing and resettling people who come to Australia to seek asylum (‘what about our farmers/homeless people?’ … are regular responses on social media to those who urge compassion for the displaced people of the world). So it’s important to reiterate that not only has it been statistically proven that refugees contribute significantly to the community through their entrepreneurship and determination to work hard to achieve productive lives, but that the expense of offshore detention is significantly more than the more humane alternatives.) So offshore processing and detention is actually costing needy Australian citizens from getting the financial support that could truly make a difference. In the last week, we have learnt of an additional expense of treating refugees as less than human as this Guardian report indicates that:
Australia spent $320,000 in the last financial year on legal action to deny medical requests for urgent transfers of asylum seekers held offshore – with the cost “likely to be far higher this year, with a growing number of critically ill people seeking the federal court’s intervention after officials refuse recommendations from doctors to bring them to Australia“.
This article was followed up the next day with a report that indicated that an Australia Border Force (ABF) official said that the ABF cancelled evacuations against Australian court orders and medical advice so as not to compromise regional processing ties with Nauru who have, on several occasions refused to allow air ambulances sent to evacuate detainees for whom urgent medical attention elsewhere is vital. e.g. the Nauruan secretary for multicultural affairs, Barina Waqa, was “just not convinced” that the case was of a refugee know as ELF18 was serious but despite the court order that indicated evacuation was essential, Australian Border Force did not defy the Nauruan refusal, thereby technically breaching the court order.
A second federal court case last week heard evidence from the Australian government that there were “ongoing issues” with Nauru’s treatment of medical transfers, prompting the sitting judge to declare it was a problem of Australia’s creation for establishing offshore processing in the first place.
(Of course, this focuses specifically on monetary issues. The cost to the individuals directly affected by these policies, court battles etc. is unquantifiable … although it includes a death toll of 12 and lifelong impairments for hundreds of innocent human beings. And we can’t overlook the damage to the Australian psyche – a population that once was proud of its melting pot culture and its welcoming of those in need. This can’t be numerically measured but the misplaced fear/hatred and the proliferating of lies founded on ignorance, prejudice or the calculated desire for greater political power can’t fail to take a toll on the attitudes and lives of many … and on generations to come. Sadly, time will tell how deeply these unfounded perspectives will penetrate.)
BUT … we are NOT powerless on this issue.
There ARE things that we can do to try and turn the tide …
It is the PERSONAL STORIES that have the best chance of changing perspectives as the TRUTH OF HUMAN SUFFERING can have an impact when the factual information is dismissed as ‘fake news‘ by those who haven’t had the opportunity to look/listen further than the Murdoch press and the “shock jocks” (all of whom have an agenda that is not to tell the truth but to incite consumption of their ‘product’ [high ratings = big pay packets/power] by engendering strong emotions through outrageous claims based on no evidence whatsoever.) So if we can take the stories of people who flee oppression to seek a peaceful life in Australia and tell them to others, we can chip away at the foundation of cruel policies which, when changed to a more humane approach, will also save Australia a significant amount of taxpayer money that can be spent on improving the lives of those in the population whose own circumstances require support.
As well as the Email Empathy pages and posts listed at the foot of this post, here are two fresh sources of insight into the lives of those affected by Australia’s policies affecting people seeking asylum:
- REFUGEE LEGAL‘s latest newsletter has included snapshots of the lives of some people in Australian on whom the government has imposed unreasonable deadlines by which they must go through processing and application procedures or face immediate deportation. Click here to read some excerpts from that newsletter or you can go to this page at this website to sign up to subscribe to receive news delivered directly to you via email.
- FIVE YEARS IN MANUS PURGATORY is a visceral exposure of the lives of those still detained offshore on Manus Island where the incarcerated men continue to sink further into mental despair and physical surrender. Click here to read.
With these specific personal stories, then, you can share some of these people’s lives via social media as well as following our Email Empathy approach to those directly in a position to change the policies by going to our WRITE and SEND pages.
So please do what you can. A few minutes online by each of us could add up to significant changes in the lives of people who are barely existing in a hellish environment of Australia’s construction.
Click on the underlined text to head to the links:
Personal Stories PAGE
Personal Stories POSTS: