As a writer and researcher I remain concerned about the lack of empathy toward refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the simplistic narratives told by mainstream media. Refugees are vulnerable people who are fleeing war, violence and persecution in their home countries, and don’t deserve to be met with such overwhelming ignorance and fear.
Many of my friends tell me – “no-one chooses to become a refugee”.
As people who have faced persecution because of who they are (their race, nationality or membership of a persecuted group) or what they believe (their religion or political opinion), refugees need courage:
- The courage not to deny identity or beliefs in the face of persecution.
- The courage to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace.
- The courage to keep going in the face of devastating loss, difficulty and despair.
- The courage to begin again, to work hard and to maintain hope in an unfamiliar land.
The Australian Red Cross has listed five things to make a difference for refugees in your community, that we could all think about doing in 2017. I love the fact that the first tip is to get informed and understand the facts.
Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society – this year it will be held from 18 to 24 June. Celebrated since 1986, Refugee Week coincides with World Refugee Day on 20 June.
In Australia, the theme for Refugee Week is “With courage let us all combine”. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. You can find out more about Refugee Week from the Refugee Council of Australia website.