A possie in Aussie

September 11, 2009

Australian public critical of negative reporting of Islamic and Sudanese communities

Filed under: African,human rights,Integration,media — Nayano @ 10:33 am
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New research shows that Australians define ‘Australianness’ by behaviour rather than through ethnic origins.

‘Australian’ behaviour is defined as obeying the law, respecting others, integrating within communities and developing a working knowledge of English.

These findings come from a group of surveys conducted in metropolitan and regional Victoria by a team from Monash University.

In commenting on the report, Laurie Ferguson, Parliamentary Secretary for  Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services said ‘The vast majority of participants believe that multiculturalism enhances Australia economically, socially and culturally’. Report shows strong support for multicultural Australia

The Australian Multicultural Advisory Council and Australian Government will use the report, Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Security in Victoria, in the development of new cultural diversity policies.

Participants approved of the diversity in Australia and see the Australian identity as fluid and dynamic, and indicated a preference for a whole-of-community perspective on issues and solutions.

(For our report of Sudanese refugees contributing to whole-of-community solutions, see Successful Sudanese settlement: a report that is not boring!)

The research also uncovered some areas of public concern.

‘Generally participants were very critical of the way the media portrays minority groups such as the Islamic and Sudanese communities,’ Mr Ferguson said.

‘In addition, some people expressed concern that some migrants do not properly integrate into Australian communities, and that settlement services should focus even more on building social inclusion.’


September 7, 2009

Successful Sudanese settlement: a report that is not boring!

Filed under: African,Integration,refugee — Nayano @ 8:12 am
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Sustaining Sudanese Settlement in Murray Bridge South Australia Report: Sustaining Settlement in Murray Bridge South Australia

A report of a study conducted by Lutheran Community Care Murraylands New Settler Services, funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Project and research Leaders: Nayano Taylor-Neumann & Raj Balasingam

How Murray Bridge has attracted Sudanese settlers, made them welcome, and plans to retain them

Murray Bridge, a regional centre about 80km from Adelaide, has had great success in attracting and integrating new settlers from refugee backgrounds. In mid 2006 the first Sudanese family self-settled in Murray Bridge, and since January 2008 a further sixteen families have moved to the town as secondary migrants, and there are many singles also resident in the town.  More families are planning to relocate.

The Sudanese community in Murray Bridge enjoys 100% employment and is well integrated into the community. This is a result of the great work of the local community in supporting new migrants. The community aims to attract new settlers like these, and to retain them.

The report describes a study of the Sudanese community, funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, carried out by Murraylands Lutheran Community Care New Settler Services.

It is a best-practice resource, useful for both researchers and settlement workers.

Get the Report

Sustaining Settlement in Murray Bridge South Australia

See previous posts on Sudanese in Australia, especially A Stab in the Dark

August 25, 2009

What has religion to do with belonging and diversity?

Filed under: Integration,race relations — Nayano @ 7:32 am
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What does it mean to belong, to be accepted and to feel socially included and connected?

The National Ethnic Disability Alliance has just released the report This is my home: belonging, disability and diversity…

In March and April 2009 NEDA facilitated focus groups in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth with people from non English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB) with disability. This report document stories and descriptions of The key findings of the report are that:

1.    Religion, faith and spirituality are an important component of social connectivity and belonging for many people from diverse backgrounds. Measures of inclusion must adequately value the role of faith in building inclusion and connectivity for many Australians.

2.    Discrimination has an impact upon opportunities and social inclusion outcomes. A social inclusion agenda must address systemic and individual discrimination, including racism.

3.    Family and friends are important gateways to social participation and belonging. Friendship networks in particular are worthy of further investigation as an enabler of social inclusion.

4.    The ability to be to have a voice and be heard is a key component of feeling included. Linking social inclusion with human rights frameworks and support for advocacy provides a direction for giving people opportunities to be heard.

5.    Creating more positive interactions between support agencies and consumers can have the benefit of a stronger sense of belonging and connection for people who face social exclusion.

Full text available from Australian Policy Online

August 24, 2009

Truth in t shirts: “Everyone’s a racist”

Filed under: Integration,race relations,racism — Nayano @ 8:29 am
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No one is a racist. At least, nearly everyone, if asked, would say ‘No, I am not racist’. But everyone suffers from what Kellie Tranter, of Online Opinion, calls Cultural blindness

Kellie was in the US recently when she saw a Native American selling T-shirts which read “Homeland Security: fighting terrorism since 1492”.

Kellie asks “What would Indigenous Australians print on their T- shirts?

“Repelling illegal immigrants since 1788” or

“60,000 years of paradise … then the white fella shows up”?

I mystified by the vociferous opposition by some Americans to health care reforms, fuelled by my own blindness to race relations in the Sates.

In Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy Gilens shows how racial stereotypes, not white self-interest or anti-statism, lie at the root of opposition to welfare programs- that is, he argues, ‘welfare’ = ‘handouts to blacks’

This CNN clip shows white people arguing against health care reform – and claiming that race is not a factor, and then Tim Wise’s excellent commentary about their ‘cultural blindness’. (Are you blind to your own prejudices?  Read this. Not a racist? You are a fool or a liar)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Are you ‘culturally blind’? Need a t …“, posted with vodpod

May 4, 2009

‘Illegal immigrant procedures’ soften reporters’ brains

I am sorry, Wayne Flower and Ben Packham of News Ltd – you have been the dupes (willing or otherwise) of a very dumb – and anti-immigrant ‘news’ beatup:  Illegal immigrant procedures to be softened

They warn us that:

“ILLEGAL immigrants no longer will be locked up and deported when caught by authorities because of a major softening of immigration procedures.

Visa overstayers, instead, will be invited in for coffee with immigration officers and even will receive temporary bridging visas.”

How did they flush out such a story?

Does ‘they will be invited in for coffee’ give you a clue?

Sounds very much like those viral emails that circulate purporting to be ‘news’ that are based on lies and half-truths, designed to inflame anti-migrant, anti-asylum seeker, anti-you-name-it feelings.

Have a look at Web of lies against Rudd and Muslims and Immigration facts and furphies

The facts:

There has been no change in policy.

February 7, 2009

Perhaps refugees can choose for themselves?

Filed under: Integration — Nayano @ 12:34 pm
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A report, originally held back from public release by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, (probably an attempt to avert bloggers like this one from using the ‘failure’ as grist for the racist mill) reveals that one of the recent regional settlement programs initiated by the Department has been a failure.

The report concludes that some of the main reasons for the failure were the lack of information about and interpreters for the Togolese settlers, Ballarat’s bitterly cold winters, and the lack of employment.

This points to a failure on the part of settlement policy.

It is important to understand, however, that all other centres of regional settlement, such as Shepparton and Mt Gambier have experienced great success.

These centres have had newly arrived refugees directly settled by the Department, but there are other centres, such as Murray Bridge in South Australia to which refugees have relocated from the cities where they were originally settled.

Employment is, I believe, the most important factor in successful settlement, not only for financial reasons but also because of self-esteem, integration with other members of the workforce and the image of the refugees in the rest of the community.

Murray Bridge has experienced a rapid growth in self-settlement of Sudanese refugees, and the employment rate among them in that town is nearly 100%, and a recent survey conducted by an Adelaide University doctorate researcher found that nearly 70 per cent of them were satisfied with their current job there.

Findings from the same study found that 16.3 per cent of the Sudanese respondents living in Metropolitan Adelaide reported that they are unemployed, and spoke of their difficulties in finding suitable jobs. (Thanks to Mohana Raj Balasingam for permission to quote from his as-yet unpublished PhD thesis)

A DIAC funded survey undertaken in Murray Bridge revealed that the availability of jobs in the town was a major drawcard for the Sudanese in relocating.

Perhaps DIAC efforts should be directed to educating refugees about opportunities in regional areas, and funding them to relocate.

February 3, 2009

Immigrant facts and furphies

Filed under: race relations — Nayano @ 7:56 am
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“racial tension threatens a real prospect of conflict as the recession bites. I’m not ignoring this issue – I don’t think we can – but I’m just not sure how to blog about it responsibly without inflaming a growing popular anger.” Responsible blogging on immigration – hard to do?

The Raedwald post coincided with a couple of emails that a dear friend forwarded to me, that had been sent to him by other friends of his, with genuine concern. The first was an article in 2002 by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard asserting that Muslims in Denmark consume a disproportionate amount of welfare spending and make up a majority of the country’s convicted rapists.

I don’t have time to research the facts in Denmark, but here is a research-based article that explodes similar myths about Muslims in America – and I can’t imagine that Muslims in Denmark are hugely different.  

I am as careful as possible on A possie in Aussie to give references, especially when the matter is contentious. It is time-consuming, and can be deflating when I come across something that ‘explodes’ the point I am trying to make in a post. People like Daniel Pipes make a living from writing articles that grab people’s interest – in whatever manner works.

The other email my friend forwarded? Malicious, elderly, but still effective 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.

If you receive one of these emails, or know of some older people who might be targeted, tell them that anyone receiving this scam email should delete it and should inform the person who forwarded the email that the information it contains is false -or a furphy.

January 3, 2009

A stab in the dark

Filed under: Integration — Nayano @ 9:46 pm
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The  Advertiser of  3 January published a story titled ‘State on a knife edge as violence escalates’ – a so-called ‘insight’ article about a ‘sudden and alarming’ increase in stabbings in South Australia in recent months. A collage of three photos of the stabbing murder of a Sudanese youth, Daniel Awak in November and a large cut-out of a hunting knife head the article.

A ‘social commentator’ David Chalke, who heads a marketing company, provides the comments that make up the bulk of the article, and those comments and the photos of Daniel imply that the sudden increase in stabbings is due to refugees from Africa.

I have paid close attention to any reports of stabbing violence since Daniel’s death, because I am concerned that this one very public and awful incident 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 Africans.

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

The Advertiser handled Daniel’s death well at the time, I thought – providing information that made him an individual, not a ‘criminal’ or a ‘refugee’.

But this sort of reporting just adds to the vicious misrepresentations of African refugees.

In fact, Sudanese are no more involved in crime than any other community

Nayano Taylor-Neumann

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