Daily Archives: July 26, 2011
The Australian government has just struck a deal with Malaysia that will send 800 yet to be processed Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat to Malaysia in return for 4000 already processed refugees currently in Malaysia. The numbers alone make this a very strange deal. But much of this has been debated at great length in the public domain and media ever since the idea was floated.
The whole thing is bizarre in that it is not an agreement, not a treaty and neither participant is bound to the statement laid out as the deal. In fact nobody really knows what to call this absurd attempt at international policy. Whatever we call the document, not only is it not binding or legally enforceable, it isn’t even complete. Many of the crucial details have been left out of all together. We seem to be expected to just take both sides at their word that the right thing will be done.
The UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) had this to say on the deal: –
“UNHCR is not a signatory to the Arrangement, however it appreciates that both Governments have consulted with the Office.
UNHCR’s preference has always been an arrangement which would enable all asylum-seekers arriving by boat into Australian territory to be processed in Australia. This would be consistent with general practice.
The critical test of this Arrangement will now be in its implementation both in Australia and Malaysia, particularly the protection and vulnerability assessment procedures under which asylum-seekers will be assessed in Australia prior to any transfer taking place”
It is clear this is not a normal deal, this goes against what is the norm right around the globe. A norm that exists for countries who deal with refugees in the tens of thousands. Not in handfuls here and there as we do in Australia. If you believe we are being over run by boat people here in Australia you simply are not across the facts. And that is the problem. The Government is banking on the fact that the majority of Australian’s simply want less “boat people” and being ignorant of the facts will mean they will swallow any policy or deal to appease that wish.
It is not easy to say your own country is ignorant, a country you are proud of and a country you believe is indeed the country of a “Fair Go”. But that is exactly what I am saying, Australia is a country ignorant of the world wide refugee issue.
The deal will cost Australia an estimated $300million, that is a lot of zero’s simply to “rid” us of 800 people. It is an immoral deal, one that voids our nation of its ethical and legal obligations to those who seek asylum in Australia. In no way does this deal stack up, so the government will rely on pure ignorance of the issue to ensure its success. Educating people on the issue of refugees and the real facts is the only way to ensure an end to the practice of keeping the worlds most vulnerable people behind bars. And now even worse, sending them to a third world country where they have no rights.
Wake up Australia!
Take a bunch of kids and give them an opportunity and this music video shows what happens. The Bega Women’s Refuge got some funding from the Australian Government to bring in musicians Andrea Kirwin and Damon Davies to help a group of local youth create music. The result was a band called Critical Infinity and this original song ‘Courage Under Fire’. Andrea Kirwin said that the children all had natural ability and just needed mentoring. Dave Hibbert provided his recording studio, and ABC South East NSW came aboard to film and edit the video. The project has been so successful that its now being extended.
I was having a conversation with a relatively well informed political advisor when the topic of music came up. To my shock they hadn’t heard of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, which was odd given their position. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in text books, policy and our own little world and forget that even in the most serious of issues there are answers to be found in the arts and music.
Blind from birth, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is a powerhouse of musical creativity. Geoffrey, or Gudjuk as he is also called, is from the Gumatj nation, his mother from the Galpu nation both First Nations peoples from North East Arnhemland. A former member of Yothu Yindi, now with Saltwater Band, Gurrumul’s solo excursions highlight his amazing talent as a singer, songwriter and musician. His beautiful voice will never leave you as he sings the songs of his Gumatj country