What individuals can do
As an individual, there is plenty that you can do yourself. Inform yourself about what is going on. Sign up to the Refugee Council’s fortnightly bulletin. Just email us. It’s free. And there’s plenty of information on our website and other websites and social media. Look at what you can do to inform others. The best way to do this is through creating opportunities for people to hear directly from people who have been refugees.
The Australian Refugee Association here in Adelaide is one of a number of organisations which has refugee speakers available. Contact them and line up a speaker for a school or community group that you are associated with. Arguments about refugee policy rarely change people’s minds but hearing directly from real people with real experience does.
Become an active citizen. Tell your MP and Senators about your concerns and your ideas. You South Australians are much more influential than you realise. The fate of the current citizenship legislation will be decided by four South Australian Senators – Nick Xenophon and his two colleagues and the new Independent Senator Lucy Gichuhi. In fact, any legislation supported by the Government and opposed by Labor and the Greens in this Parliament will be decided by those four South Australians. As locals, you have greater access to them than I do. Use this influence.
You can get involved in volunteering. There’s plenty of information on the internet about organisations working with refugees. And use your money to support the organisations doing valuable work for refugees without government funding support. There are plenty around. I know from our experience at the Refugee Council that a small amount of money donated on a regular basis makes a big difference to a struggling organisation. Skip the occasional smashed avocado and look for a good cause to support.
And go to the Refugee Council website where there articles which give more detail about some of the ideas I’ve discussed are published.
My basic message is this: There are many reasons for despair about the way persecuted people are being treated. But don’t give up, because giving up means giving in.
Thank you for your attention.