Mohammad shares experience of seeking safety in Australia as a child and the hope to have a more compassionate and inclusive society in the future.
What is our fault? What have we done wrong? We are children. We are young asylum seekers and refugees.
We are part of Australia’s future. We are the children who, in the blink of an eye, had their lives completely changed. Do you seriously think we had a choice? A choice to say no? No, I want to stay with my grandparents. No, I want to stay and protect my sister. No, I did not have a choice. I was just a child.
I was just a child riding my bike, roaming the streets and trying to enjoy a childhood, then it was taken from me. It is a burden that I have to carry for the rest of my life. The worry that I lived most of my childhood in fear and worry and that I still have no choice to choose.
All of the asylum seekers in Australia suffer under the current inhumane policies. So trust me when I tell you, it is not easy for us children to blend into this culture, this country, to be accepted.
I can promise you that every single child seeking asylum has been affected. We have experienced, and are still experiencing, the psychological difficulties, trauma and anxiety of being left out, from not being able to envisage a future like the rest of the children of this nation. Because there is always a barrier right in front of us, written clearly in large words that seem to say, YOU ARE DIFFERENT.
If we have TPV or SHEV temporary status, we are told we are different. It tells us that we have no real, firm permanent livelihood. It is hard to be denied the right to study because you have temporary status. That was not my choice.
We have told ourselves that this will change, for nearly a decade now, but it hasn’t. We are still suffering from mental depression and are right at the bottom of a hierarchical society, just because our parents decided to save our lives.
I’m not asking to take anyone’s place.
I’m not asking people to feel sorry for me and the thousands of other migrant children who came to this nation without a say.
All I ask for is for equal treatment. I ask for fair humanitarian policies that would allow families to reunite.
I ask the government to act on their words, the words that got them there in the first place, that they signatory to. To respect, act ethically and allow people with fair reasoning to seek permanent asylum in this nation.
I had no choice during my childhood, but at least let me choose my future.
Mohammad Daghagheleh is a young emerging community leader from Melbourne who is currently finishing year 12, wins accolades in public speaking and is enrolled in our Community Leadership Program. Arriving in Australia at age ten, Mohammad sought safety from Iran conflict and continues to advocate for the rights of young asylum seekers in our community.