Just like us
"The refugee story lies at the heart of modern Australia, and the contribution that refugees of every generation have made has been central to our development." - Prof. Andrew Jakubowicz UTS (Making Multicultural Australia in the 21st Century).
Australia - built by boat people
Australia is made up of many culturally diverse communities. The indigenous people of Australia have lived here from time immemorial. Since the establishment of a penal colony in NSW in 1778 by Britain, migrants have settled here from all over the world and for many different reasons. In 2010, the United Nations estimated that over 20% of the population of Australia were migrants, that is, born overseas and now living in Australia. Nearly half of Australia's migrants come from only five countries: England, New Zealand, China, India and Italy. The other half come from all over the world.
References: esa.un.org/migration/, www.immi.gov.au and www.migrationinformation.org.
Many former refugees are now achieving amazing things in Australia in fields as various as business, sport, the arts, and science. Luke Nguyen, Frank Lowy, Richard Pratt, Karl Kruszelnicki, Majak Daw, Mirka Mora, Ahn Do, Sir Gustav Nossal, Bryce Courtney - just some of the names associated with great personal success. Other famous achievers from refugee families include Jana Wendt and Les Murray.
Alongside these famous achievers are the thousands of other refugees with their own personal success stories that we don’t necessarily see on television. People fleeing persecution, disaster and war have created new lives, new stories and new futures in Australia. Just a sample of these can be found on the below websites. References: www.amnesty.org.au, www.immi.gov.au and www.kochie.com.au.
Our newest immigrants are also our future achievers. The ingenuity, persistence, courage and resilience which the refugee experience demands are characteristics which can lead to a productive life in Australia. We also have skills shortages in Australia which refugees can fill. Tradespeople and labourers are in demand, as well as hospitality industry personnel. The retention rate of employed asylum seekers is higher than young Australians, who average only two years in a job before moving on. Asylum seekers can contribute to the community in many ways if given the opportunity.
Australia has long benefitted from the contributions of migrants and refugees to the economy. History shows that immigrants do not only fill job vacancies, but also create jobs for other Australians. This 1946 statement from the then Immigration Minister is as relevant today as it was back then:
"Although I know that the majority of Australians have a sane, balanced approach to the immigration question, there still remain a few who are tortured by the old bugbear that immigrants may take jobs now occupied by Australians.
This, of course, is a fallacy. In fact, the opposite is the case. In our expanding economy, and with the Government's policy of full employment, immigrants will make jobs as well as take them… (T)hese new Australian citizens, by increasing the consumer population, will create extra work for others." - The Honorable Arthur A Calwell, Minister for Immigration and for Information: www.immi.gov.au (pdf, 643 KB).
Refugees and asylum seekers add a significant contribution to our economy by filling skill shortages. Click here to read the recent Government report highlighting the Economic, Social and Civic Contributions of First and Second Generation Humanitarian Entrants to Australia [PDF 1.9 MB].
What this campaign is aiming to achieve:
- Change Perception: change the public perception of asylum seekers.
- Recognise Positive Contributions: that asylum seekers have and will continue to make to our community.
- Change the language of fear: i.e. boat people, detainees, detention centre, border protection.
- Increase opportunities: for asylum seekers to contribute to Australia.
- Increase independence: increase asylum seekers independence and control of their lives.
- Educate employers: educate prospective employers of asylum seekers.
What you can do
- Watch these great collections of intimate personal stories about refugees who have made the Goulburn Valley their home, told through photos and audio.
- Donate Now - make a difference
- Volunteer - get info about volunteering for the ASRC
- Learn More - learn more about asylum seekers and pass on your knowledge
- Visit the Immigration Museum
- Think about your own family's immigration story
- Regularly check out the Refugee Council of Australia's website
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Take a moment off if you can and read the following resources that give you the human face and reality of asylum seekers. After doing so please share this with friends, family and work colleagues. Start a dialogue with people about what people think about asylum seekers and share these facts, stories and realities.
- Watch our advertisement
- Invite a community speaker to your workplace or school
- Employ an asylum seeker
- Change the conversation
- Read asylum seeker stories