8 January 2018

Action is the antidote to despair

Joan Baez said that.

She said lots of other things too but this one is resonating with all the people who've been in touch recently to ask what they can do PRACTICALLY to support refugees and asylum seekers since our own government is most politely described as 'pretty shit' when it comes to upholding the human rights of others.



1. TALK

The first, and sometimes the hardest, thing to do when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees is to talk. Talk to your racist uncle, the work colleague that repeats some bullshit they read in a Miranda Devine column, the person that thinks that Spudutton is right to demonise minority groups. Challenge the mother that is up in arms about the word halal going on a jar of vegemite, the friend that shares shit on their facebook page about 'sharia law'. Change the conversation. For everybody that talks about illegals, send them the links explaining how they are wrong.

When somebody says refugees and asylum seekers are nothing but societal parasites - mention Hieu Van Le - the South Australian governor, or Anh do - Comedian, Artist, TV personality, or Les Murray - Sports commentator, or Frank Lowy - the guy who built Westfield, or Majak Daw - the AFL chappie, or Dr Karl Kruszelnicki - Scientist and Radio DJ, or Deng Adut - Criminal Lawyer and NSW Australian of Year 2016, or even Dr Munjed Al Muderis, the pioneering surgeon who is giving amputees the chance to walk. Just for starters.  There are more examples. Everywhere.

And keep talking.  Even when your friends are sick of you talking about it. Tell them you'll stop talking about it when positive change has occurred. Change might be slow, but it does and will happen.

2. BE A GOOD NEIGHBOUR
http://goodneighbour.co/

This fantastic initiative is about connecting local people with refugees and asylum seekers, who are new to the area, have arrived without the support of their own friends and family, and who need to create a whole new life for themselves in our community.

For project volunteers, it’s about reaching out to others within your local community, building new friendships and doing unto others what we could only hope would be done to us, should we ever find ourselves in need of a good neighbour.

3. SUPPORT BUSINESSES THAT SUPPORT REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

There are heaps out there. Google is your friend on this occasion but a few to get you started are

  • https://refugeetalent.com/ -  is a digital platform to connect skilled refugees with companies offering short and long term job opportunities
  • http://www.noosawelcomesrefugees.org/aboutus - one of the artists involved in this project has been on Nauru since she was 15. They make amazing stuff. 
  • www.gardens4good.net -  By buddying up trainee asylum seekers/refugees with experienced gardeners we provide on site training and job support. Profits from G4G go back into wrap around services for our trainee gardeners- including driving lessons, English classes and workplace training. 
  • https://www.kilimanjarokrafts.com/ - 50% of profits go to social good initiatives including assisting refugee children to attend schools and also to provide tuition for cultural activities such as music and recreational activities such as sports
4. BUY THEM SOME PHONE CREDIT
www.facebook.com/pg/GFMAN2016

The donate button is at the top of the page. Phone credit provides vital support for mental and emotional health by allowing contact with family, as well as giving access to medical, legal, media and advocacy support in Australia. All things we can agree they desperately need.

5. DONATE TO SPECIALISED SUPPORT SERVICES AND PROJECTS

This might seem like a no-brainer but these services can not function on love alone. They need your time and your money - whichever is easiest for you to give.  There are different services in each state but check out these for starters

  • www.asrc.org.au - they provide food, shelter, legal advice, advocacy, education and employment programs, health services, general support, run campaigns, fundraise, you name it. There are equivalent organisations in each state but they are all working towards the same aim so you can't go wrong with hunting them out and giving them time and/or money. 
  • https://chuffed.org/project/seasonforjustice/ - this is a Mums4Refugees and Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children initiative which funds lawyers to help rape survivors needing urgent medical evacuation or women with breast lumps being denied assessment. Basically the kind of cases that Spudutton doesn't want you to hear about – but you have the power to help fight and win urgent help before it's too late.
  • https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/ - it might seem a little less practical, but this organisation works to change the policies and what not that shape our overall approach.  RCOA’s core purpose is to promote the development of humane, lawful and constructive policies towards refugees and asylum seekers. To inform our positions on policy matters, we undertake research into a wide variety of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers. 
  • http://www.julianburnside.com.au/whatsinside/uploads/2016/03/national_list.pdf - this is a list compiled by Julian Burnside which covers most of the rest.  

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