By Alyas Taqawi
I remember arriving in Australia after a nine-day boat journey, through a monstrous ocean filled with dangerous storms and rain.
I remember the faces of the people who greeted me and asked me if I was okay. They showed me empathy, care and kindness.
The policy of the government at the time was human and human-loving. This was the Australia that people had come to love. That is how people around the world viewed the country, but not now.
Our current government is taking pride in their inhumane policies. People seeking asylum and refugees have been the most persecuted in Australia. The government persecutes people who have fled persecution. This costs the Australian people billions of their tax dollars and breaches the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
People live on Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV) for many many years. They live in limbo under very limiting conditions.
Many have been separated from their partners, families and children for almost a decade now. These visa conditions have not only cost people their emotional wellbeing but their sense of safety, financial stability and hope of ever seeing their families again.
Under TPVs and SHEVs, people are unable to get the jobs they want. They can’t have a secure and permanent job because their visas end every three to five years.
People who have arrived in Australia as refugees by boat and who have permanent protection visas are intentionally denied citizenship by the government. Due to the family reunion policies, they are also not able to reunite with their families. They are discriminated against in the workforce and are unable to work in state and government jobs.
People who have been taken to offshore detention centres, as part of a bipartisan decision to never settle them in Australia, have been in those detention centres for over seven years. They have lived under extreme conditions, always at risk of being physically and emotionally harmed.
The Australian people have been misguided and misinformed about the people who have come to Australia seeking protection, a basic human right.
Australians are a wonderful human-loving nation and must practise their fair-go for people who have risked their lives to seek safety. These are people who have asked for our help.
We never let down people in need in our community. We have proven through our culture that we always help the person who knocks at our door in the middle of the night asking for help.
We have a great culture of mateship for our fellow citizens regardless of their skin colour, background, religion, beliefs, gender and sexuality. How do I know? I work with everyday hardworking people of this country. I have talked to them and have listened to them.
Please act civil and empathise my fellow Australians. Help change the inhumane refugee policies of this country. Especially the policies that have targeted people who have arrived here by boat.