Manus Humanitarian Crisis

I live in a country of egalitarianism. I live in a country of mateship, in the country of a fair go. I live in the country of the Australian dream, the country built on the blood, sweat and tears of criminals, convicts and migrants. I live in a country where one of our national heroes was a bush ranger and a criminal, where one of the most recognised songs known by Australians is about a swag man, ultimately a backpacker.

I also live in a country where it’s citizens seem to have forgotten who built this great nation. They seem to have forgotten that the majority of the population originally came here by boat.

I am a 7th Generation Australian. I am the relative of Convicts, of a Light horse man, of soldiers, and of farmers. I am also a 2nd Generation Australian, the Granddaughter of two migrated English men. I grew up in a Country Victorian Town, and I was born in Northern Queensland.

I am also a strong believer in equality and the egalitarian beliefs that this nation has thrived on. I am a young woman that will sing my national anthem with pride and hopes that my home, my country can follow through with its core ideals.

To simply start

In a Manus Island Detention Centre controlled by the Australian Government 606 men have been left with no power, no running water and no food. Which the United Nations has declared as Humanitarian Crisis. These men were originally taken to this detention centre unlawfully and have ultimately been treated worse than animals.

Manus Island is situated in Papua New Guinea, The high court of PNG demanded that the detention centre be closed as the UN had declared it unlawful, and in breach of human rights. I’m not sure if you know too much about the PNG, But in simple terms it is not a safe place, foriegners can be gravely unsafe and crime rates are high. So in great Australian fashion the detention centre has been closed and the 606 men were given the option to be placed in an alternative facility in Lorengau which is believed to be unsafe, and would put these refugees at a higher risk of danger and harm.

To make matters worse, our neighbouring nation New Zealand offered to take 150 of the Manus island refugees and the Australian Government denied that offer.

This makes it seem as though it is a stand off between the Australian Government and the Refugees fighting for their right to life, safety and to seek asylum and the Government’s policy to ‘stop the boats.’

The part I always find most ironic about this is that the Australian anthem, the song that is supposed to represent my country has these lyrics:

‘For those who’ve come across the seas 

We’ve boundless plains to share; 

With courage let us all combine

To Advance Australia Fair.’

Does no one else see the irony in that? My Government is doing absolutely EVERYTHING in its power to stop people coming by boat entering this country, yet the anthem, the Country’s National anthem literally states that they are welcome. How far from Australian ideals can you get if you are walking away from the song that brings our nation together.

Furthermore, you have the parts of Australia that have low levels of immigrants and high levels of intolerance. I grew up in a town full of refugees and it was successful. I was surrounded by refugees from so many African and Middle Eastern Nations; as well as immigrants from Italy, Greece, China, India, and who knows where else. We all lived together, we all went to school together, we laughed together, we ate together and we grew together. We didn’t see the skin colour or the heritage that made up our pasts, we saw the individuals who had their quirks, their own sense of humour, their own way of showing love and kindness.

We were kids that didn’t talk about the atrocities that some of my beloved friends had gone through, we enjoyed the fads of Gangnam style and listened to One Direction like any teenagers of my time. I honestly believe that that’s what the world should be like. It shouldn’t be about where you were born, or what horrible things you have had to face. It should be about giving people the chance to be their best selves, about letting kids be kids, about giving every person the same chances, and hoping beyond anything else that as a Nation we can grant safety to at least a few people that honestly and truely need it.

Call me biast if you like. God knows I am, I have experienced what I have experienced and I have seen a successful multicultural community thrive. I have seen people come together, I have seen families accept other families and the true harmony and love of a community that didn’t just judge people by their skin colour, but rather by their character.

That was one community that I lived in, that I grew up in, and if what was so successful why can’t more be? Why can’t more communities in Australia allow refugees and asylum seekers to settle there. We have the room, and not only that we have an AGING POPULATION, which means to be able to support our aging population we need more young people to be educated, working and paying taxes to support the ever growing number of older (and elderly) people who cannot support themselves.

I will not apologise for how I feel and I will not stop talking about how poorly our Government has handled the international refugee crisis. All I can say is that I stand with the men on Manus, I stand with the people on Nauru and I hope that some day soon we all wake up and realise that we are all human and these poor souls seeking asylum deserve every opportunity we have been granted in our wonderful country that is Australia.

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