Myths and facts
But they're "illegal" , "they're a security threat" , "there's too many of them" , "why don't they just come the right way?"
These are not uncommon remarks posed to the ChilOut team. There is so much misinformation out there and almost no effort by our political leaders to add factual, rationale information to the public debate. So, here a few myths busted to help make sense of it all...
But there's a flood. It's more like a trickle. In 2010 Australia received around 1 percent of the world's asylum claims. In the first half of 2011 we received 4,955 asylum applications (by plane and sea), in the same period the USA received 36,370 applications, with France, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Belgium and Canada all receiving over 10,000 applications in the same 6 month period (some over 20,000). Furthermore, Australia has a quota and only accepts14,750 humanitarian entrants each year. UNHCR October 18, 2011 report.
They jumped the queue There simply is no queue. Less than 30% of the world's 15.4 million refugees live in refugee camps. The remainder are in urban settings, on the move, in informal camps, living precariously in countries near to their homelands etc... For people coming from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka or Burma there is no country between their homes and Australia who is a signatory to the Refugee Convention. This means there is nowhere for them to gain protection, safety and legal status. There is no orderly queue to go and stand in!
Safety first Rigorous Australian government security checks are applied before asylum seekers are granted refugee status. They are fleeing from security threats, not creating new ones. It's worth noting that if someone arrives by plane and seeks asylum (more common historically than arriving by boat) - they are usually not detained whilst awaiting refugee status determination or an ASIO check.
They're illegal Fleeing persecution is not a crime. In fact, seeking asylum is a human right. It is not illegal to seek asylum without a visa. Around 80 percent of asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat are found to be refugees. How can a person fleeing their own Government stop by the office of a bureaucrat and fill out a visa application form?
They just want a better life. People who apply for asylum have been forced to flee their homelands. They have faced persecution, imprisonment, possibly the threat of death or seen loved ones killed. Their governments can no longer protect them. Nearly half of all refuges are children (44 percent). Australia's refugee determination test is a rigorous one and to pass means a person faces a genuine threat of persecution not simply looking for a new country to live in cause the unemployment rate is lower.
What about my taxes When anyone is granted permanent residency, they have exactly the same rights and obligations as the rest of us - like obeying Australian laws and paying Australian taxes. Detention costs are an enormous burden to the Australian taxpayer not former refugees living in and contributing to our communities. There are no extra centrelink payments to refugees.
A long and proud history Refugee arrivals are nothing new. In Australia, we have a long and proud history of protecting those fleeing persecution. Since Federation, we have accepted more than 750 000; these have included people like scientist Dr Karl Kuszelnicki and Westfield founder and Socceroos head Frank Lowy.
Our cities are already splitting at the seams. We can't take any more... It sometimes seems that way, but this has nothing to do with people who apply for asylum. Every year, our population increases by around 300 000 - refugees settling here account for only 2 497 (that's less than one percent).
But don't we get to decide who comes in? We do. Almost everyone who comes here does so by the usual migration channels. Everyone who applies for asylum is individually assessed by the Australian Government. Remember, only people who can prove that they were fleeing from persecution get a visa.
But I just got an email saying these people get higher benefits than us
These are hoax emails, full of false information. These e-mails are blatantly inaccurate and intended to create resentment towards refugees and fuel disharmony. To find out the truth, click here .
Don't just take our word for it:
The Australian Parliamentary library publishes its own myths and facts
And if you'd like the info represented in graphics; Amnesty International Australia can provide that
If you're looking for a schools / education focused resource, SBS, Amnesty International and RCOA joined forces to create that for you