Fitzroy Learning Network Annual Report - Page 4

Chairperson’s Introduction The Fitzroy Learning Network’s wonderful staff and volunteers continue to provide much needed support for refugees, asylum seekers and other new and recent arrivals to our community. It is with some disappointment though that the year has flown by and not much has changed in relation to asylum seeker and refugee policy. Indeed we seem to have gone backwards. It is time to speak out continuously in an effort to change the narrative around refugee arrivals and to dispel the myths and lies that are perpetually broadcast around this issue. People who come to Australia by boat seeking asylum are not behaving illegally. There is no queue for coming to Australia – anywhere in the world. No queue has ever existed. We must stop boats so people won’t drown. Nobody has to drown if we competently abide by laws of the sea. We need to break the ‘people smuggling business model’ as if this is a business creating a market instead of a business responding to a demand. These are just a few of the myths that are constantly aired as if they are fact. They greatly hinder any sensible debate around what best to do in the interests of both the refugees and asylum seekers and the country, and indeed the region. People movements are also greatly exaggerated. There are currently some 14 million refugees in the world of which 500,000 are seeking asylum in the West. This makes the relatively small number arriving by boat seeking asylum in Australia seem even smaller. In the 36 years from 1976-2012 some 45,000 people have 2 arrived by boat. That is a little over 1000 per year. This includes years of greater numbers – most recent – 5609 in 2009-10, 4940 in 2010-11, and a little over 13,000 in 2012. Despite the higher number of recent arrivals it is still a tiny proportion of the 500,000. Also not mentioned often are the asylum seekers who arrive by plane who are not subject to the same harsh treatment. During the next year the Fitzroy Learning Network will be seeking to campaign for a change in this approach, and a return to humane policies towards people who need our support – from wherever they come. As I have said before we know from experience that we do well in assisting others to settle here. We have done so for generations. The Network is only one of many organisations and groups of people who welcome refugees and recognise the contribution they make to our community regardless of how they may arrive. We need to make our voices heard; we need to let our politicians know that we can and do assist refugees to settle successfully into our communities; and we know that we are better for it economically, socially and culturally. Over the next year we will build on our successes and continue to work with other like-minded organisations in advocating for the development of ѥٔ)хɕɽѕѥɅݽɬȁմ)͕́ɕ՝̸QѡȁݔѼɔѡ)ݔɽɕ́ͥѥٕѽ݅ɑ́ݽɭյ)) ɔ]) ͽ()ɽ1ɹ9ݽɬՅIЀļ((0