Go Back to Where You Came From?

By Morgan Pettersson.

The SBS series ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ recently aired across Australia at a time when the nation is again embroiled in the refugee crisis debate.

The series certainly was aired at the right time after news outlets across the country published controversial figures placing Australia as the 46th refugee intake country in the world behind Kenya and Iran, the day the series was due to air on June 21st.

This startling new research conducted by the United Nations shows that Australia has only 20,000 refugees and that other countries across the world such as Germany receive close to 100,000 applications yearly from those seeking asylum.

Yet the continued publication of information upon the subject through the media and politicians has in many ways scared many people and ensured that the ongoing attention has kept it a hot topic in many citizens minds.

The boat crisis continues to be a firm topic of conversation in Australia, ironically a country made up almost entirely of immigrants excepting the indigenous population.

The four part series followed a group of six Australians as they traverse the journey Asylum seekers and refugees undertake by boat and across continents to arrive in Australia, only they travel backwards.

The journey takes the participants from Australia by boat to refugee camps and slums and finally to Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all in 25 days.

For many watching the show it challenged ordinary Australians perceptions of the journey the boat people or ‘que jumpers’ undertake to arrive in the lucky land, and watching the transformed attitudes of the six participants also spured others to reasses their moral standing on the subject.

Whilst many Australians are immigrants themselves, the biggest backlash towards asylum seekers and refugees have been directed towards those who travel by boat and are seen to jump the que to get to Australia.

By international law once in Australian waters the government has the responsibility to look after those claiming asylum or refugee status who arrive by boat, and are subsequently placed into detention centres to await the processing of their applications, at the cost of tax payers which has caused a lot of the anger towards the refugees arriving by boat.

Many refugees and asylum seekers who flee the turmoil in their home countries often sit in refugee camps and slums for up to a decade awaiting approval into Australia, and often the condition of these camps can be worse than what they escaped from.

Unfortunately for those who do the right thing and enter Australia legally after waiting in refugee camps, they are still branded with a negative stereotype by some citizens who assume that they came via boat illegally.

This continued resentment towards those refugees currently coming from African nations and the Middle East is a reminder that some things dont change in society, as only 60 years ago those coming from war torn Europe, especially Italy, Greece and Germany were looked upon in the same way, as being very forgein, un Australian and unwelcome.

Many were segregated when they arrived and placed into camps or specific areas, verbally and even physically threatened for being ‘wogs’.

Today we cant imagine our lives without spaghetti and the Mediterranean passion and lifestyle has crept into the daily life of the nation, hopefully this time it will not take 60 years for the new influx of refugees to be integrated and accepted into society.

One Response to “Go Back to Where You Came From?”
  1. Brilliant, exactly my sentiments.

    I found it amazing how racist some of the people were immediately, reminded me of a few people I know. It’s an eye opener for people who think normal Australians aren’t racist.

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