AKA Why I started sorryasylumseekers.com…
There is a serious debate to be had in Australia about asylum seeker policy.
Millions of people flee persecution every year, and their passage from danger to safety needs to be regulated. Most people agree with this, even if their views on exactly how then to manage the issue differ.
Hence the debate that’s currently raging across our nation’s homes, pubs and halls of power.
Valid questions are being asked in this debate.
How many asylum seekers can Australia sustainably accommodate? How should we, as a nation, deter/manage/encourage asylum seekers? Is ‘stopping the boats’ Australia’s only policy objective? Is mandatory detention a useful policy measure? Etc etc
These are complex issues worthy of detailed examination.
However, my website sorryasylumseekers.com wasn’t established for that purpose.
Instead, sorryasylumseekers.com is based on a philosophy that Australia’s asylum seeker policy debate — while worthy and necessary — should take place on a bedrock of humanity.
Whatever your views on the Pacific, Malaysia or PNG solutions, surely we can all agree that basic human decency is a worthy objective?
However you assess Australia’s obligations under international law, surely we can all agree that as a rich country we should treat those in our care with respect?
The website is about saying sorry for harsh or inhumane treatment, which is entirely avoidable.
I want compassion for those fleeing persecution as an agreed starting point, something considered sacrosanct by all Australians. Only then can we have a mature and fruitful debate about real-world policy solutions.
Australia’s asylum seeker policy debate — while worthy and necessary — should take place on a bedrock of humanity.
The public response to sorryasylumseekers.com has been overwhelming. We have contributions from every state and territory, as well as Australians living overseas. Dogs, cats and babies have also featured in people’s posts.
But let’s be frank here — a few feel-good pictures aren’t going to change the world.
However, at the very least, I want asylum seekers to know that not all Australians are lacking in compassion.
There are people with big hearts all across the country (and of all political persuasions).
sorryasylumseekers.com may not achieve anything.
It may raise some awareness, it may eventually raise some money, or it may make just one person fleeing persecution feel more welcome in Australia.
But it’s better than doing nothing.