Frequently asked questions: how can I help?

 

What should Australia be doing? . . .

Through the Six Point Safety Plan the Victorian Women’s Trust is calling on the Government to work more actively with all countries in the region, and with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to develop and implement agreements that provide safer pathways for people seeking asylum so that they are not forced to take dangerous onward journeys. These agreements need to include the legal right of people seeking asylum to stay in a country, the right to work and study in that country and the provision of vital support services.

The Women's Trust is also calling on the Government to take responsibility for a fairer share of refugees in the region based on our national capacity and infrastructure. The Government needs to significantly increase the number of resettlement places in Australia. People waiting in countries like Indonesia (the last country of departure for most travelling to Australia by boat) for resettlement will be more prepared to wait if they are living in safety and have a realistic chance of finally settling in a country like Australia.

In the immediate to short term the Government must bring back to Australia all the people it has sent to Nauru and Manus Island. Community processing rather than mandatory detention needs to be the norm so that all people seeking asylum, including those sent to offshore sites such as Nauru and Maunus can live in the community while waiting for their claims to be procssed. Access to work, education rights and permanent protection must also be a key part of a more humane approach.

Why is it important to examine the moral premises that underpin current and potential policies? . . .

Much of the debate around people seeking asylum has been based on the moral premise that indefinite detention and other cruel practices are unfortunate but necessary. These moral premises are presented as fact, and any other viewpoint is painted as naïve. However, moral premises should be questioned and contested. If we shift the moral premises that underpin our thinking on this issue, we can create a robust, compassionate and credible alternative to the current approach. If our starting point is that all people deserve the right to seek asylum and should be treated humanely, the way we process their claims will be markedly different.

What can I do? . . .

One of the most powerful things you can do to change the way Australia treats people seeking asylum is to meet with your local Member of Parliament (MP). We need to shift the discussion so that it is based on moral premises that put the safety of women, men and children seeking asylum at the centre of our policies. By raising our voices we can change the agenda to create a more compassionate and sustainable approach. See Make Your Voice Heard for more action tips.

But what can my local MP really do? . . .

Local Federal Members of Parliament are very sensitive to the views of their constituents, particularly in the lead up to a federal election. Local members take a great deal of notice when citizens in their electorate contact them about an issue and are more likely to raise these issues with their colleagues and other ministers which in turn can influence their party’s policies. This is true even if they do not appear to be engaged on the issue. It is vitally important that we keep the pressure on Federal Members of Parliament through visits, letters and phone calls demanding a more humane and caring approach to the treatment of women, men and children seeking asylum.

How do I find out who my Local Member of Parliament is? . . .

Go to http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

My local MP is already supportive of a humane approach, what else can I do? . . .

Write to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition sharing your concern. Talk with your family and friends about the issue and encourage them to support the campaign. Share your support by engaging with our social media handles (@VicWomensTrust). Follow us on our Facebook page, share our campaign video, and sign up as subscriber. See Make Your Voice Heard for more action tips.

More questions? . . .

Further questions and answers can be found on the following website:
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Myths, Facts and Solutions