Boat people….why all the anxiety?

I get frustrated with the huge amount of hype surrounding the arrival of boat people.

I realise I lack a thorough understanding of all issues involved, but I know enough to realise it is a hugely complex situation.

I realise that people arriving by boats represent a tiny tiny proportion of asylum seekers coming to Australia.

I also think they are some of the only ones that arrive completely honest about their intentions (as opposed to people who lie on their visa application and apply for protection visas once they’re here).

I hate the idea that Australia is potentially breaching international law by not allowing people to reach our shore to seek asylum (although realise the complications regarding this when people have travelled past other countries in which they could have applied before reaching australia).

And I also understand that we do not want to encourage illegal immigrants to arrive by boat simply because it is such a dangerous way for people to travel and it will mostly be the people smugglers who benefit.

So…complex, yes. But worth all this hype? With so little compassion?

No one chooses exile. No one would choose to live outside their language and culture unless they had to. If you are confronted with persecution, discrimination, constant threat, injury and even death, taking your chances on a rickety boat heading for a distant country may well be your best choice – or indeed your only choice.

…What then are we anxious about? Why is Australia, a country that has opened its doors to so many different people in times past, suddenly ignoring the human plight of people who are suffering now? Australians are known for their tendency to side with the underdog; why then are we not siding with these desperate people, human beings just like our own ancestors, people who are just like us?

3 responses to “Boat people….why all the anxiety?

  1. I completely agree, I wish more people could see this issue from this point of view Gem.

  2. I don’t think that Australia has a history of being compassionate, siding with the underdog (sport being the exception), or opening our borders to those in need. I wish we did.

    • Gemma Freeman

      You know, I think I have to agree…given the white australia policy etc….but we are a more compassionate culture in general than a lot. still a good article though.

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