Friday, June 24, 2011

I will not go back.....

This past week I have been watching Go back to where you came from, on SBS.

I have found it really, really powerful.

I'm not sure if I even want to write about it. I have never really written about a topic that is so controversial. I tend to steer clear of politics, instead I specialise in light fluff. And I don't know that I can do this justice. I feel like anything I will say about it will be trivial and seem somehow insincere, when put beside the vastness of the issues that the program uncovered.

But at the same time, to not share, to not discuss what that program was, feels like an injustice. Because it is so important. So, I'll do my poor best, and please understand that this incoherent, tentative little post is just that.

If I'm being honest, the topic of refugees isn't one that I ever thought about too much. I thought about it a bit when it came up in the news or in politics. And (like many other Australians I suspect), when Julia Gillard announced her Malaysia solution, I thought it was wrong, but I didn't really do too much more than that. I guess I was too busy wrapped up in my own life to ever pay too much attention.

Go back to where you came from has opened my eyes so much. First and foremost, I think I didn't really have any concept of just how much so many people are suffering. I had no idea of just what it is that Refugees are trying to escape. I knew that their lives were hard and horrible, but to actually see it, so raw and honest, and to meet and get to know the people dealing with that life, took my understanding to a whole new level. I also didn't have much clue of what kind of opinions other Australians really had about the topic. Incidentally I will say, I was impressed that the six participants in the program had such a range of opinions.

Honestly, I don't know what the answer is. I don't think an issue this complex has an easy answer.  I don't know if Australia taking in more and more and more refugees is the solution. I guess I worry that we could take so many different people, especially people of different religions, and then bring with that a whole host of new problems. But at the same time, these are people. Human lives. I also think that many people from foreign nations don't understand what Australia can actually support. We seem like a very large nation, and we are land-wise. But we also cannot support a large population due to out lack of water and other resources. But I do think that we can take more than we do.

On the 'Go back to where you came from' website there was a quiz that asked a few different questions. One of them was 'How does Australia compare to these other countries in terms of refugee's hosted?' We came in eighteenth, just ahead of Cyprus. Eighteenth. America, France, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom were the top five. And in my mind, that is just wrong. Last year, we took 8,250 onshore asylum applications out of the 358, 840 applications received of the 44 industrialized nations. Surely we could do more than that?

I also hadn't really cottoned on to the fact that Malaysia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. The idea that Australia is planning on sending any of it's refugee's back (let alone that we are sending them back, how heartbreaking would that be for them?) to a country that does not value human lives. Physical punishment is not okay in our country, but yet we will turn and look away if it happens to the people we've sent to another country? I can't even express it properly.  It just boggles my mind.

Also, as Zoey has said in her post Stand up if You are a Patriot,
They are not illegal. Every person has a right under international law to request asylum. They don't have to be accepted, but they have that right. The right to ask.
 That does not seem to be something that is widely known in Australia.

Really, I could go on for pages and pages. I have so much to say about this issue and I'm sure I've missed out lots of important points. This is just so multifaceted that I feel overwhelmed. It makes me feel grateful for what I have, but helpless to think about what I could do for the so many others who suffer. But I do think that I can do something. I can let the Prime Minister know that I do not support the plan to send people (and children!) back to Malaysia. I can search for more ways to help, and be more active and vocal than I was before. And I can pray, and not forget. I'm sure I will forget to some extent. That same ability that will make me forget some of this is also the same ability that helps refugees forget rape and torture and move on with their lives. So I can't really fault it. But I will try. And if nothing else, this program has made me aware. Like Bahati's brother Masudi said

'The big problem for this world is to educate the system to touch... the heart. If I touch your heart, you are able to understand me.'  

It sounds sentimental and romantic, and many people might treat it as such. But, through this program, and these people, my heart was touched, and I will never be as silent or as ignorant as I was before.

This one's going in Friday's Flog yo blog over with Glowless.

And if you haven't watched Go back to where you came from, please do. It hurts, but it's important.


  1. It was the most eye opening amazing show on tv for a long time. Should be compulsory viewing. Great Post xx

  2. Our church has quite a lot of African refugees, who have entered Australia legally, so I know a little bit about where these people ate coming from, and it's horrible. I don't have a problem with refugees, but I do have a problem with Muslim nations deliberately sending in people for the sake of Islam, and I have a problem with the government not looking after people once they're here. These people have no idea how to live in our country and everything is so expensive. They get given money but no education about how to use it. Paying a power bill is a new concept to a person who has been living in refugee camps for years.
    You're right it is multifaceted, and I guess at the end of the day all we can do is pray. Or at the very least start there

  3. Such a good post about such a good, important, riveting, emotional show ever to be on our televisions.

  4. Thanks Woogsy and Ames, Jess I know exactly what you mean! It's just so incredibly hard, but at least it's not just up to us.

  5. Should I get back on my boat and row back to the Philippines? ;) I still haven't seen the show but I've read so much about it. I'm looking forward to watching it and will try not to throw anything to the tv.

  6. @MummyK- no don't do that! And yeah... you may have trouble not throwing stuff, but it still is good.


Thanks for stopping by, I would so love to hear your thoughts!

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