A possie in Aussie

September 23, 2009

Asylum seekers: the truth, not urban legends

The Adelaide Advertiser yesterday put the arrivals of asylum seekers by boat on the front page. Huge surge in asylum seekers

The article, and the editorial that accompanied it, led to 56 comments, 48 of which were negative in tone. (By the way, the number of comments compares with 169 on the same day about the weather, and 159 earlier in the week about Kane Cornes!)

This is an important issue, and we should all be concerned about it. We should be concerned about Australia’s resources, and about social harmony.

We need to have a debate about the issue, based on facts, not urban legends.

Here are some of the inaccuracies in the Advertiser comments:

1.  There is ‘no cohesive national plan to assist these people in the understanding of our Laws, our culture, the expectations in society’.

Refugees are supported by a program that provides specialised health checks and treatment, torture and trauma counselling, assistance with everyday matters, and education about Australian laws, culture, and expectations. The program also promotes integration, and has the goal of all refugees participating fully in employment, education, and their local neighbourhood. These programs are the Settlement Support Program and the Intensive Humanitarian Support Service, both funded by the department of Immigration.

2. ‘Benefits to asylum seekers include a pension greater than those who have lived and worked to support the welfare system receive, not to mention subsidised housing AND subsidised loans for Housing’.

These lies are based on a spam mail that begins “Everyone needs to be aware of this one. God bless our seniors”

And continues with lies that say that Australian residents from a refugee background receive welfare payments that range from double to 10 time that of age pensioners. This email actually began in Canada (!) in 2004, then was changed to refer to the USA and sent around there, and then the same thing happened in Australia. With the same numbers – which were wrong in the first email Immigrant facts and furphies

The facts are that refugees get exactly the same benefits, pensions and allowances as any other Australian.

3. Refugees bring criminality, and there are ‘lawless’ refugee youth running amok with knives in Adelaide.

The stabbing murder of a Sudanese youth in the CBD in November 2008 has given rise to the myth that the increase in stabbings in recent months is due to refugees from Africa.

I have paid close attention to any reports of stabbing violence since the November incident, because I am concerned that this one very public and awful event will damage the reputation of the Sudanese I know who are no more related to ‘stabbing violence’ than you or me.

None of the stabbing incidents reported in the South Australian media since Daniel’s death have been by Sudanese or any other Africans.

As far as I could tell stabbing seems to be pretty multicultural in Adelaide, with the bulk perpetrated by good old Aussies. A stab in the dark

The asylum seeker numbers are an issue that we must face, but face with facts.

“The disparity between rich and poor nations has indeed become a scandal that must no longer be allowed to disfigure the world order… Until it is redressed, the flow of immigrants from poor countries to the rich First World will continue: if they are prevented from getting in legally, they will get in illegally” – Michael Dummett.

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