The plight of refugees is a global problem, but it comes home to roost in our community.
As Shepparton Ethnic Council manager Chris Hazelman reminded us in today’s News, there are those in our community who have family and friends suffering as a direct result of our Federal Government’s tough stance on border policy.
The government’s ‘‘stop the boats’’ policy has been supported by both major parties and is undoubtedly also supported by many Australians — many of whom would be from our community.
The issue of refugee migration and access to the material benefits of stable western countries is a thorny problem.
Some countries are more welcoming than others and are prepared to widen the gates when it comes to letting people enter.
Others are not so welcoming and are narrowing the funnel for those who try to enter countries outside established channels.
According to refugee advocates such as barrister Julian Burnside, people fleeing violence have human rights which are being ignored by the politicians of many rich western countries, including those in Australia.
As a lawyer he believes successive Australian Governments have failed to meet their international obligations, breaching the Declaration of Human Rights, the International Rights of the Child and the Refugee Convention.
As a human being he says our politicians lack compassion and prey on xenophobic fears.
Nevertheless, there are many people who believe that successive Australian Governments have protected our sovereign rights by excluding those who attempt to come here outside the rules.
Further, many Australians believe that because the boats have stopped coming, many lives have been saved.
So, the issue is complicated both morally and politically.
The News does not pretend to have the answers to this difficult situation — other than to say Shepparton has become a guiding light when it comes to refugee re-settlement.
We have welcomed refugees and we have strived to make their lives easier — without judgement.
However, the thorny issue of refugee intake remains as a subterranean discussion.
We would urge people to attend Mr Burnside’s appearance in Shepparton next week to further discuss these national issues, which are highly applicable to our growing city and its migrant population.