They may not know the intricacies of Australia’s immigration policy, but these kids show wisdom and compassion beyond their years when it comes to asylum seekers.
Eighteen children aged six to 11 feature in the Kids Talk Refugees video series, talking about where boat people come from, why they leave their homes and whether they should be held in detention. All the children come from Sydney, and two were themselves refugees.
Their insights are as enlightening as they are fascinating. Even to those who don’t really know what an asylum seeker is, the idea of detaining refugees seems baffling.
“Why should I be scared of somebody who’s our species?” asks eight-year-old Galileo, when asked if he worries about asylum seekers coming to Australia. “They are not doing anything wrong, they are just trying to go to another country because there are wars,” adds a girl. Karmel, 6, who came to Australia as a refugee, explains that asylum seekers are “people who run away from evil”.
The videos, created by a group of journalists, were inspired by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into children in detention. On its website, the project team writes: “It really came home to us that children shouldn’t have to know about immigration policy, least of all the inside of our detention centres.”
The Federal Government’s policy on asylum seekers is that boats are turned around or refugees are moved to offshore detention camps on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea or Nauru. Recently, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his ministers have refused to deny that people smugglers have been paid up to $5000 to turn back boats. Its policies have been criticised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as asylum seeker advocacy groups.
The video project was funded by a grant from the GetUp! Shipping News project.