What type of life are the 600 men living on Manus Island experiencing? From all the news I hear, not a good life, but a life of fear and deprivation. They may be living a simple life, when they get the basics to live, but it is not the type of “simple life” or the definition we, who live in a prosperous nation, such as Australia, have come to understand. A simple life for many of us means a move to the country, decluttering, down-sizing and/or being more self-sufficient. The men on manus may be living a simple life, but not the type of simple life most of us would want or desire.
The very reason we have the refugee problem on Manus Island is because these men, living in less than ideal conditions, risked their lives to find a better place to live. However, for many, like those on Manus Island the journey to a better life, a simple life, is still somewhere in the future. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in Australia, like my ancestors, came here on a boat. Many of our ancestors came to Australia as immigrants. This is the reason the Federal Parliament is having the citizenship debacle. Many politicians have links back to another country. Therefore, alongside solving the citizenship saga, wouldn’t it be great if the politicians could also solve the refugee debacle. If only, those who lead our great country, could find in their heart the compassion and enthusiasm to resolve this refugee problem and solve it quickly. Afterall, is it not the politicians mandate to promote human welfare, not inhumane treatment for those seeking asylum or refugee status?
Those refugees on Manus Island, like many others, would celebrate living a simple life. A life where they not only had shelter, food and water but are given the opportunity for self-actualisation. An opportunity to work, to earn money, to find a life partner and plan a life and family together. It sounds simple enough but it is one of the most complex problems facing the Australian Government. The PNG Court has ruled against restoring services to the Manus Island Detention Centre and now the refugees are on their way to other accommodation. Government policy will not allow the refugees to resettle in Australia. But how long does it take for the Government with all the resources at hand to find another way, another home for these refugees? A home where they can have a future with hope? Then the Federal Government refuses the offer from New Zealand to take 150 refugees. What is the rationale behind that?
There are over 21 million refugees in the world. In 2015 of the 2.45 million who had their status recognised or resettled only 11,776 were assisted by Australia. However, in 2015-16 the Department of Immigration stated that the Australian Government granted 17,555 refugee and humanitarian visas. In 2016, of the 2.5 million refugees who had their status recognised or were resettled just 1.43% were assisted by Australia (34, 193 people). Once again, Australia falls short of doing our fair share for refugees. Most of us are getting a “fair go”, can we then give others a “fair go?
How lucky are we, living the simple but good life in Australia! A past-time for politicians is to talk tough about refugees but it is past time for politicians to step up and take care of this humanitarian crisis and STOP treating refugees, people just like you and I, so inhumanly.