Australians Think Govt Should Help Asylum Seekers Less
15 June 2015 at 3:49 pm
Most Australians are misinformed about refugees and asylum seekers, thinking it is a crime to come by boat without a visa seeking protection, a new survey by a major Not for Profit has found.
Almost two thirds of Australians also think that the Government is doing enough or should do less to help refugees and asylum seekers, according to the survey.
The Australian Red Cross surveyed 1000 people over the age of 18 on their views around asylum seekers, with most respondents saying they thought there was an official queue refugees and asylum seekers could join to be resettled.
Red Cross said the survey found found the public does not really know the scale of the issue nor the realities refugees and asylum seekers face. Further, women were more likely than men to get the facts wrong.
The quiz-style survey questions included facts based on the most recent data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner said it was important that Australians know facts about asylum seekers.
“It’s not a crime to come to Australia by boat without a visa and ask for protection – yet almost seven out of 10 people think it is,” Tickner said.
“Everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries, and it’s not illegal to cross boundaries without documents or passports to do so. People have been fleeing persecution for centuries; think the fall of the Roman Empire, World War 1, the Vietnam War.
“Red Cross is concerned there’s so much misunderstanding. We think if some of the myths are dispelled we will have a more compassionate and stronger community.
“People impacted by migration need our help. They are some of the most vulnerable in Australia today; they often face much hardship, limited choices and have few support networks.”
There are 17.9 million refugees and asylum seekers in the world today but the survey found close to one-third of people think there are more than four times (about 80 million) as many as there actually are, and almost a quarter think there are half as many (about 9 million).
Red Cross released the results of the survey to coincide with Refugee Week – 14 to 20 June 2015.
The organisation is running a Fact v Fiction campaign challenging public misconceptions about refugees and seeking asylum.
“Added to this lack of knowledge of basic facts, our survey also found some two-thirds of people think Australia is doing enough or should do less to help refugees and asylum seekers. Younger people (18 to 34 year olds) are the age group most likely to think we should do more, while people over 55 are more likely to think Australia does enough,” Tickner said.
“Red Cross works with people based on need regardless of how they arrived in Australia or their visa status because we believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.Red Cross operates on the principle of neutrality and our work leaves us well placed to discuss the realities faced by asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.”