It’s About Humanity!
As I was thinking about a theme for this Quarter’s newsletter the now classic quote from President Clinton’s re-election campaign kept coming to mind: “It’s about the economy, stupid!” Of course, the policies currently faced by asylum seekers cannot be attributed to the new governments drive for fiscal responsibility. The sad reality is that our current government is on an unashamedly relentless push to ‘stop the boats’ and to ‘choose who comes to this country.’ In short, they don’t want the poor, the destitute, the desperate. They want those who can pay substantial visa fees and who will integrate seamlessly into Australian society (in their opinion).
The most tragic part of this policy shift has been the blatant attempt to de-humanize asylum seekers. Messrs.’ Abbott and Morrison have astutely realized that by removing the human (read: humanitarian) element of asylum seekers arriving by boat you just might be able to take the sympathy and empathy of the Australian population out of the equation. This is illustrated most clearly by the government’s directive to all service providers to no longer call asylum seekers in held or community detention ‘clients’ but instead to refer to them as ‘detainees.’ Furthermore, they are not to refer to detainees by name, but by their assigned number in written reporting.
Perhaps the most dehumanizing policy of this current government though has been to remove the constant reporting on the situation of boat arrivals in our waters. This is nothing more than a clear attempt to erase the very real human element from the public’s psyche. We occasionally hear that some boats have been turned back, but no numbers related to the amount of people, their race, origin, etc.
Well, we couldn’t really make the theme of our newsletter: ‘It’s about Humanity, Stupid!’, so we went with the title at the top of the page instead. I think it still carries the message we want to express. Possibly more than ever before, at least in recent history, what we face as Australian’s is an issue of humanity. The people coming by boat and plane into this country are HUMAN. Whether they are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Congo, or Pakistan, they are HUMAN. Whether Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or other, they are HUMAN. Whether their claim for protection is legitimate or for ‘economic’ reasons, they are HUMAN. When that is accepted then the great principle naturally arises that humans have rights that are indivisible, universal and inalienable. This includes access to humane treatment and to the legal protections afforded and decreed under numerous conventions that this country is a party to. When these rights are removed barbarous, inhumane acts committed against others become far too easy.
In this newsletter I hope you will find a celebration of humanity. A celebration of the PEOPLE we have the awesome privilege to meet, share our lives with and walk this, at times treacherous, journey of seeking asylum with. They are real PEOPLE, with hopes and dreams, and with much to contribute to our already diverse and multi-cultural society.
As always, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all who continue to support our work. Whether financially, through in-kind donations, volunteering, or through your thoughts and prayers, everything you contribute makes a difference and continues to be a wonderful encouragement to us and those we are privileged to serve.
Executive Officer, House of Welcome