The title of this piece was a response on twitter to one of our articles this week and it perfectly sums up the reality – refugees and people seeking asylum are people – fellow human beings who live and love like all of us.
This is not a political issue, it is a moral and humanitarian one.
The human toll of this issue is enormous. They suffer real and lasting harm. These people have escaped from a situation where they had no security and now have a life full of uncertainty. This has dire consequences on their mental health.
While this is happening, people in Australia who have a comfortable existence, who are safe and secure wish to deny peace and security to others – to those who desperately need it. These people sleep soundly at night in their beds in Australia while others have trouble sleeping because of a high level of anxiety. Anxiety and depression have reached epidemic proportions for refugees and people seeking asylum.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, children on Manus wet their beds, suffer nightmares, act out, and in some instances had stopped interacting with or even speaking to people outside of their immediate families. This will have lasting effects on them for the rest of their lives and for generations to come.
Populism in Australia is making Australians inhuman when it comes to refugees and people seeking asylum. Their mantra is ‘keep people away from Australia at all costs even if they need protection as refugees and at the same time make life unpleasant for those who try to reach Australia.’
While people have genuine concerns about security and a loss of Australian identity, these concerns need to be addressed with honesty, not with a “post-truth” attitude. The reality is that the Australian identity is formed by many becoming one by inclusion – not by exclusion. We are a better nation and people when we care for others.
The issue regarding our security is that our borders are safe, it’s our humanity that is threatened. It is our humanity that is in danger of being swamped by inhumanity. Australia’s problem is racism not refugees. Supporting refugees is the radical notion that refugees are people. However, the sad truth is that more have died on Manus island than have been settled in Australia. This needs to change, close the camps and bring them here.