Archive for the ‘australia’ Category


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As part of SBS Australia’s reality show “Go Back To Where You Came From” – six ordinary Australians following the harrowing journey of refugees – a simulation game has been created. This was an incredible documentary which can be viewed online. The simulation game would be useful with older students to examine the complex issues involved in the current “boat people’ debate.

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Thanks GetUp!

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I was at a school in western Sydney yesterday. It has a large number of refugee students mainly from Africa. Many of these students came from  Sudan. Three of these students, Theresa, Nebol and Dut, spoke to a group of  us (8 adults – scary!) about their achievements since they arrived in Australia.

I only wish Julia Gillard and Tony Abott had been there. Perhaps then they would stop all the mischievous rhetoric when they speak about  refugees…   “illegal refugees”…”boat people” and  “border protection” .

Theresa, Nebol and Dut were refugees. They did not come to Australia illegally. They did not come to Australia by boat. They came via the UNCHR refugee resettlement program. Their life in a refugee camp prior to this, is another story.

Theresa, Nebol and Dut were stunning. They said it as only young students can. To the point. Blunt. Truthful.

They have learned a lot since they came to Australia. Not just how to read, write and successfully engage in learning. They have also learned what it is like to move from house to house as rents increase. To share a dilapidated house with two or more families.

Theresa, Nebol and Dut have learned about taking on family responsibilities at an early age. Translating forms for their parents from English into Dinka or Arabic. Communicating for their families at school, with landlords, at Medicare…. and so it goes on.

They have also learned how hard it is to negotiate a totally different society, with different rules, laws, different customs, and a different language (Theresa said she still struggles to understand the Australian accent because we speak so fast!!).

What they didn’t say, but was so obviously evident, was how each of their families was still struggling with the horror they witnessed in war-torn Sudan.

But Theresa, Nebol and Dut were all in agreement. They love it here. They appreciate the opportunities they have. They recognise the importance of learning, of knowing, of having a future. And they know they still have a lot to learn, and more struggles ahead.

Even listening to their stories, I found it hard to comprehend just what they have been through – and are still  experiencing.

So to the lady in Shepparton who, when being interviewed by ABC radio, stated that Australia should stop the “boat people” taking  houses that Aussie battlers need, I say………well, I can’t really type it!

I will say…take time to get to know some of the Iraqi refugees in your community and just listen to their stories. Maybe, just maybe, you will see things differently.


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Great ad!

If only The Greens could use this ad!! Love The Gruen Nation show on ABC. How else could we make sense of what’s happening with all this political spin leading up to Australia’s federal election??!!!!

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What do you think?

Mia Freedman in her blog Mamamia asks

What is important to you in Australia’s 2010 Federal election?

For me, it’s…

1. Refugees – they deserve to be treated humanely and with compassion instead of being demonised and used as political pawns to score points. It is quite incredible how much misinformation is out in the public arena about this issue – no thanks to the politicians! If you want the facts, go to the Australian Refugee Council website.

2. Environment – carbon emission trading, water resources, land management……for a continent like Australia which is one of the biggest polluters in the world, this is an URGENT issue. More courageous decisions need to be considered. Monetary cost is preferable to environmental disaster.

3. Health and Education – both are fundamental to the wellbeing of Australian society.  Education – what can I say? I am a teacher. I can see daily how access to education can make such a huge difference in people’s lives. But it needs to be the best it can be. Myschool? NAPLAN? High stakes issues in education need greater thought and consultation otherwise educational opportunities offered to our students will be limited or at best, piecemeal.

What is important to you this election?

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Heavy sigh. Here we go again.

Asylum seekers – big news.  Politicians harrumphing about getting tougher on boat smugglers. People screaming “it’s not fair….asylum seekers are jumping the queue.”

There isn’t a queue. (See my previous blog post on the recent Refugee Week).

Why don’t politicians scream rabidly about all those people who illegally outstay their travel visa ? Just because they travel to Australia by plane, it’s OK?? After all, these “illegals” are far larger in number than those who arrive here by boat to seek asylum.

I think Michael Leunig sums it up nicely….should now read DJ Julia!

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 (Photo: ABC News online)

Today Julia Gillard was chosen to lead the Australian Labor party as Prime Minister-elect. First female Australian PM. It is inspiring to see a female in such a position of power. But as Eva Cox said in an interview in the Sydney Morning Herald today, it would be preferable for a female to win the position outright rather than coming in to clean up a mess left behind by another (male) leader.

I just watched her press conference. In response to a question about asylum seekers entering Australia, she seemed to indicate that she will be following a hard-line on the issue, moreso than Kevin Rudd.

She chose her language carefully but clearly stressed that she understood the anxiety of the Australian public about how many asylum seekers were entering the “sanctuary” of Australia. I have an anxiety that the “new” federal government will be using this issue for poitical expediancy. Easy to demonise asylum seekers for political gain. I also have an anxiety that they will not be treated fairly as is their right under international law recognised by the Australian govenment.  Apparently.

Are you listening to my anxiety Julia?

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I was having breakfast at a local cafe with friends on Sunday, when a huge photo on the front page of a Sydney paper caught my eye. While I am a sports nut, I don’t follow rugby league and nor do my friends. But we all know who Matthew Andrew Johns is. So we wondered why his anguished face was dominating the news.

He apparently called a Queensland rugby league player a very racist name based on colour. Another player of indigenous background,  Timanu Tahu, who is a friend of the player concerned,  rightly took offence at this language. Tahu subsequently pulled out of the team concerned.

For him, it was a culmination of racist behaviour directed at him and other players of non-caucasion background. He is standing up for his beliefs that racism should not be tolerated. He acknowledges that this is  important for the children who follow the game, as he and other players are role models.

I stand and applaud him.

I must admit, I wasn’t surprised that racism is alive and well in rugby league. Probably is in other sports as well. (Soccer World Cup for instance?!) Nor was I surprised at how angry and disgusted I felt.

What did surprise me was how a story in another paper today, connected to this racist incident, personally evoked strong emotion as I read it.

Timanu Tahu’s stepfather was an indigenous police officer in NSW. He stood up to racist behaviour by his Police colleagues in Bourke, a largely indigenous town in outback NSW, and as a result, he was subject to bullying and abuse by some of these colleagues. Eventually, his career stalled. His family suffered greatly. As a youngster, to witness this as Timanu did, must have been terrifying.

Enough is enough. So sad that in 2010 racism is alive and well particularly in sports that pretend to be role models for children. As the theme this year for Reconciliation Australia stated

Are we there yet?

Obviously not.

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