Australia much like the UK in the face of global refugee crisis

CASSANDRA PALMER-FIELD

It was another day of informative discussion at the Integrity 20 Summit with Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Professor Penelope Matthew, Professor Robert Manne and Race Discrimination Commisioner Tim Soutphommasane analyzing the current refugee crisis.

It was described as one of the most salient features of the 21st century with around sixty million people displaced across the globe.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti drew on the current immigration situation in the UK and saw similarities to it here in Australia, in which the themes of “control” and “island nation” are prevalent.

Baroness Chakrabarti highlights the dilemma in trying to change the Refugee Convention in a toxic political climate.

The panel also discussed the conditions on Naru and how refugees are treated entering Australia.

Shami Chakrabarti was one of the panelists to point our the hypocritical nature of our stance on refugees, getting involved in conflict in Afghanistan but then denying those fleeing the war-torn country refuge in Australia.

All of the panelists raised the issue of the media and consequently pubic opinion, dehumanising refugees and the traumatic experiences they face both prior to and upon arrival in Australia.

It is the attitudes expressed that need to change to afford refugees human rights.

Professor Penelope Matthew perhaps summed it best finishing the discussion with a  powerful quote declaring, “We have done things on our border that are unforgivable.”

Unforgivable, yet capable of change.

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