Aired over the past three nights on SBS was Go Back to Where You Came From, a series about some strong minded mostly anti-refugee and anti-boat-people Australians being exposed first-hand to the experiences a lot of refugees live and go through.
I'd strongly encourage anyone who didn't see it to watch the 3-episode series, which you can view on the SBS website here. Some would say that it's a 'one-sided' or 'bleeding heart' view of the refugee issue, but I would counter that by saying the majority of what we're shown in the Australian media, and especially politically, is a one-sided arrogantly cold-hearted view of the issues, and this in some way tries to balance that out.
The whole thing reminds me of an essay I wrote in second-year uni for my first-year Political Science (Peace and Conflict Studies) major. It was in 2002 for a course entitled "Great Issues in International Relations", and the topic that I chose for the major essay was "What political and moral challenges are raised by the issue of refugees?". I picked it mainly because in the year following the Tampa affair and the 2001 election, that there was plenty to write and reference on, as it was largely the first time in recent history that 'boat-people' and refugees really became a politically-heated issue.
From then on, especially after reading the UN Conventions for Refugees of which Australia is a signatory to, I guess I have been largely sympathetic the refugee plight if only from a legal standpoint let alone a moral one. It makes me sick that Governments and Oppositions over the years from both sides of politics have used the refugees' plight as a political football in an attempt to score goals. Both the current repetitious stance of Tony Abbott's irritating broken-record of "stop the boats", to the Government's ridicoulous Malaysia deal currently being considered, I both find insulting.
If the recent series on SBS can serve to do a single thing, I hope it shows people that refugees should be considered firstly and foremostly as a humanitarian challenge, and a not merely a political issue.
I ended my essay with "Thus another moral challenge is remembering that refugees are people in need", and thus I strongly encourage people to donate what they can to organisations like the UNHCR and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).