How do Australian children feel about asylum seekers?

Australian kids talk about refugees
Allegations that the Australian government paid people smugglers to turn away boats carrying asylum seekers have dominated news headlines this week. While many humanitarian groups despair at the negative public discourse regarding asylum seekers, it is heartwarming to know the next generation of voters do not all share in the bipartisan hardline stance on refugees.

A video project asking Australian children how they feel about asylum seekers has revealed a different perspective from this country’s political leaders.

The How Do Australian Kids Feel About Refugees’ project asked primary school children questions such as “what is an asylum seeker?” and “should we let them come?”

The children gave insightful and creative answers, with one suggesting asylum seekers come from the South Pole.

Others had a more sophisticated understanding of asylum seekers, saying they journey from Myanmar, Indonesia and war-torn countries.

One child said they are “people who run away from evil.”

Many of the children empathised with the plight of asylum seekers and expressed their concerns for children living in detention.

“If I was in a detention centre, I would feel scared and worried”, seven-year-old Liam, said.

While the Australian government remains fixated on ‘securing our borders’, the children seemed puzzled about why some Australians are afraid of asylum seekers in the first place.

“Why would I be scared of someone who’s our species?” asked eight-year-old Galileo.

Two of the children interviewed were refugees. Karmel, a six-year-old boy from Syria, talked about his family’s long and difficult journey to Australia.

“When we wake up in the morning, we have to wear our clothes and then go,” he said.

“It wasn’t easy.”

Approximately 231 children are currently in detention. Uniting Justice, alongside a coalition of church, non-government and secular organisations, are calling on the Australian government to release all children from immigration detention. Visit the End Child Detention Australia page to find our more.

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