How would you expect Australia to treat someone who has fled from a dictatorial, violent regime? They have seen loved ones murdered and realised that their only hope is to leave their place of birth, their home, the place all their hopes and dreams have centred on, their family, their friends. Leaving their community and all their earthly belongings behind, they make the arduous and dangerous journey to safety. Finally, they arrive in Australia, a land of freedom, a place where they can at last find rest, peace of mind, and healing from their trauma.
You might think we would welcome them with open arms, hail them heroes in the human quest for freedom, witnesses to the rotting carcass of violent regimes. You might think we would do all we can to make our land a place of healing.
But no. We have made it our mission to continue their suffering, compound their trauma and deny them their freedom. Until recently an asylum seeker arriving by boat would be locked up in a detention centre. Now they will can also be transported to Nauru or Papua New Guines to be held in detention or released into the Australian community. Those released into the community will receive just six weeks support to get their heads around living in a strange culture where they know no-one and may not speak the language. After this they’re on their own. They are not allowed to work, are not eligible for medicare, and receive an allowance equal to 89% of Newstart which politicians recently agreed was not enough for a person to live on. 89% of Newstart is currently $221 a week. This is how the asylum seeker will live for years. Under the ‘no advantage’ test their application for asylum will take five years or more, and once processed there is no guarantee they will be resettled in Australia. They are doomed to poverty, hopelessness and days filled with doing nothing.
So to the heroes of freedom around the world I say welcome to Australia, where we are committed to your further dehumanisation, brutalisation and traumatisation.
What a bloody disgrace.