Thoughtful Thursday

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This photo really angers me. Not because it is stating that refugees get more money then pensioners, but because it is completely false! This snapshot has been floating around the internet for a few years and every few months it pops up on my facebook page and it just makes me so mad! most of the time I bite my tongue when it is posted so not to offend anyone but sometimes I just have to say something because some people do not do their research and will believe pretty much anything that they see on the internet. So I have decided to blog today about this email and then the next time some one post something like this I will send them here so they can read the cold hard facts and then more people might stop spreading lies.

So I thought I would start by defining what a refugee actually is. The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees has used this definition of a refugee since 1951

“[A]ny person who: owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”

So a refugee is someone who for fear of death flees their country to seek for themselves safety. Which according to Maslow is one of the most basic human needs. (For those who don’t know about Maslow here is a link in which you can read more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ). Also to state refugees are not illegal immigrants. In Australia it has never been illegal to come here seeking asylum and in fact the UN has made it a part of the rights of refugees which Australia helped to write. Pretty crazy right. We say that these boat people are doing the wrong thing but in fact we are going back on a piece of human rights legislation that we helped make by saying this.

So secondly many people believe that as soon as refugees arrive in Australia they get benefits straight away. This is simple not true. They are placed in Immigration detention centres while their claims get processed. This can take upwards of 6 months ore more and these places aren’t pretty.

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The majority of detention centres are in the middle of nowhere where it is hot and dry. They are also like a prison with guards, and high cyclone fences. If a refugee is lucky they can be placed on in community detention. This means that they are able to live in the community like a normal person however they are not allowed to work while on community detention. So while when they first arrive in Australia they can not receive financial assistance and this can put them under sever financial hardship. This is where the Red Cross come in and are able to help them. There is help to those who arrive in Australia and face financial hardship. The Red Cross are able to help refugees to receive a small sum of money (89 percent of centrelink special benefits) however to receive this they need to meet the criteria of financial hardship and have to have been waiting for their protection visa to be processed for at least 6 months. More information on this can be found here  and here.

So once a refugee is found to be a genuine asylum seeker then they are given permanent residency. But again this is a long process that on average the government claims to take 3 months but there have been cases of it taking more then two years. Permanent residency mean that they are now able to recive all the benifits that a normal Australia get. No more and no less. So lets compare the differences between a single male refugee and a single male pensioner.

Single Male refugee Single Male pensioner
Base Income $492.60 $712
Health care/ Pension Card Only after being in the country for 2 years Yes
Rent Assistance $121 $121
Telephone Allowance $25.60 a quarter Included in the Pension supplement
Pharmaceutical Allowance No Included in the Pension supplement
Pension Supplement No $60.60
Total Yearly Income $16,056 $23,423,

This is information based on the Centrelink website but as you can see pensioners get a whopping $7367 more a year then a male refugee! Nothing like what is shown in the photo up the top is it.

So now comes the question of how many illegal immigrants are there in Australia and how do they get here. Most people focus on the ‘boat people’. These are in fact probably some of the most genuine refugees but they get the most flax. In 2011 there were 4565 refugees who arrived by boat. Not that many really if you think about it and let me say it would have to take a lot and the stress the family must be under for them to use all their money to get in a leaky boat and travel to a land where they don’t even speak the language. This though is the only way for them to leave their country. Passports aren’t cheap or easy to get as there is a lot of paperwork and if all your belonging have been destroyed then it is near impossible. Not to mention that you then also need to get a visa to go to the country you attend to seek asylum from and be able to afford plane tickets. Sometimes this is the only avenue that these people have. So if in 2011 there where only 4565 people arriving by boats and there are estimated to be around 58,000 illegal immigrants in Australia where are they coming from?

631650-immigrants-map

As you can see in 2011 the top 4 countries in which Illegal immigrants are in order China (8070), United States (5080), Malaysia (4200) and the United Kingdom (3610). Not exactly fleeing from war torn countries now. So how do they become illegal? 3 in 4 of these illegal immigrants are visa over stayer who arrive on a holiday visa, 1 in 7 are students and 1 in 15 disappear after being granted a temporary resident visa. The scary thing is though is that more then half of these illegal immigrants have been here for more then 2 years and around 20,000 of these have been here for more then 10 years. Kinda puts the number of boat people who arrive here into perspective doesn’t it!

So the next time that you see this top picture in your email or on facebook please tell the poster that they need to read their facts before posting things and not to believe everything they see on the internet without doing some research first. Even send them a post to this link of you like. And in all honesty can you really say that your not a boat person and have come here illegally. Just remember who was here first. So unless you are of Indigenous stock then technically you are a boat person!

Link to where I got my Information From

Adelaide Now

Parliament of Australia

Refugee Council of Australia

“The Kochie Blog”

Centrelink

Red Cross Australia

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