I just posted this on my Facebook, but thought I'd share it here too, why not?
So I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past week, after seeing friends 'liking' and agreeing with completely uneducated posts/comments about "boat people" and how we should help our own people first.
I'll start by saying that people seeking refuge ARE NOT illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are people who have come to Australia on a visa, and purposely outstayed their visa. These people are MOSTLY made up of people from the USA, Britain and China. There are MORE illegal immigrants than there are refugees. It is NOT illegal to seek refuge in Australia.
Secondly, Australia does help the homeless, there are a number of organizations and charities who help. The thing is that a lot of homeless people are there for reasons they can control, if they were willing to help themselves. I've often been approached by people asking for money, and I've declined but instead offered to either buy them food, or find a place for them to stay and start to get their feet on the ground. Majority of those people reject my practical help, presumably because they don't want to help themselves.
Now let's think of it this way. Refugees come to Australia because the country they were unfortunate enough to be born into is at war, and it's a matter of life and death, and they are scared. They don't have the time and the means to come to Australia the "right" way so their only option is to risk their lives (on a boat) or jump on a plane (if they are lucky enough) and seek refuge. They are doing what they can to provide a better life for themselves and their families. Wouldn't you do the same for your families welfare?
Let's liken that to a mother and her children, where the mother had to flee from her abusive partner. Most likely she will end up in a women's refuge if she has no money and nowhere to go. She is doing what she can to provide a better life for her and her children. Wouldn't you do the same for your family?
Or let's think about the homeless person sleeping on the streets. They ask for money for "food" but when someone offers to buy them food and find them somewhere safe to sleep, they decline because all they want is money, so they can fuel their drug/alcohol/gambling addiction. How can you help this type of person if they can't help themselves (by accepting the offer of help)?
I know who I would rather help, and I know who I would rather Australia help. The people who WANT help and are ready to accept the help available to them.