Living overseas for many years before I migrated to Australia, I was always heartened to see on television the great display of Aussie mateship. I used to think, “What a wonderful nation that treats everyone as equal and gives people the opportunities to make the best of what they have for them and their families.”
Having lived in Australia for almost seven years now, I’m not so sure I still hold this belief. Coming to Australia as a skilled migrant, I was fortunate enough to be readily accepted. I was sponsored by my husband’s company, came through the official channels with visa approved and earned enough to provide for myself and my family. I was indeed one of the lucky ones. Yet every day poor, unfortunate men and women hand over their life savings and risk their lives on a treacherous sea crossing, in the hope of reaching Australia and providing a safe environment for their families to grow.
For the lucky few who survive the crossing and actually get to step foot on Australian shores, this is only the start of a long and difficult journey to acceptance. There is the perception that Australia takes every asylum seeker who lands on these shores, but in reality, it only accepts 0.5 per cent of the 1.18 million new asylum seekers world wide. Those who are accepted face the wrath of the wider population who believe we are being over run by those seeking refuge.
The hoax email which consistently does the rounds simply serves to feed people’s fears. It blatantly claims that Australia accepts terrorists, drug dealers and child traffickers on a daily basis. Those seeking asylum go through rigorous checks before they are even considered for protection. This is a time consuming process as evidenced by the number of refugees currently awaiting processing in detention centres. This email didn’t even originate in Australia, but in Canada. It has glaring inaccuracies in terms of the benefit amounts quoted and even in the terminology used, yet people are only too happy to accept the information given as gospel.
So, should such an email land in your inbox any time in the future, take five minutes to read the details and corroborate the facts before sending it on and perpetuating the myth surrounding asylum seekers.