Saturday was Human Rights Day, although I was enjoying the day among friends my thoughts did drift to those in this life who are really doing it tough. Tough because they are not choosing to be persecuted or discriminated against but that it is being imposed on them – the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, a LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous Peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) says ‘It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity’. I know and am part of such a group – Mums 4 Refugees – an awesome grass-roots social action cohort of mums.
Mums 4 Refugees mission statement is to ‘work towards an Australia that is fair, just and inclusive, and which treats asylum seekers and refugees with dignity and compassion’. How do they do this? They seek the involvement and support of mothers from all cultural, social and political spectrums who want to see change, compassion and inclusiveness towards people who arrive as asylum seekers and refugees.
Equipped with an army of mums the group not only focuses on political campaigns to change opinions and policies but provides practical help to asylum seekers through detention centre visits, donation drives to collect and distribute material aid and other engaging community-building activities. There are over 2000 working group members and over 12000 followers online all over Australia.
Back in September Malcom Turnbull and Peter Dutton attended the UN Refugee Summit in New York. Their agenda? Showcase Australia’s hard-line offshore detention approach as a success story.
Hang on…since when do Australia’s immigration policies sit on a pedal stool?
2015 European summer – more than 800,000 refugees arrived into Greece, I remember it vividly, I was there. Australia will never need to grapple with such numbers of arrivals but does that make the policy of on-shore/off-shore detention valid? And to be used as a model to the rest of the world?
Being half French, educated in France and having all my family still there, I can appreciate the sheer scale of the issue at hand in Europe and I certainly don’t know what the answer is, it’s probably a combination of different measures.
But what scares me is European countries may see Australian detention policies as best policy to manage the issue, particularly with the rise of more right-wing political parties. We’ll come back to this.
And so I want to leave you with a short film M4R made – ‘Our War on Woman’ – about the plight of women in offshore detention – it is emotionally beautiful, sad and poignant. It paints a stark picture of the impact of such policies.