Refugees – ‘What would you do in their shoes?’ – 9 August 2010

Students lined up on GPO steps at end of event

That was the question put by students from Kilbreda College, Mentone, today in an action organised by the Refugee Action Network on the steps of the old GPO in Bourke Street. They mimed the arrival of a boatload of asylum seekers, followed by their reception, processing and eventual fate. At the same time, volunteers from the ASRC and others handed out fact sheets to passers-by, and Pamela Curr went on to recount some recent case histories and set out some facts to counter the current widespread misinformation in the community. The action attracted a good deal of attention from the midday crowds, not to mention at least three TV crews …

Placards and shoes lined up on steps of GPO

Students miming the arrival of a boat with asylum seekers

The arrival of a boat ...

Reception - 'We're full'. 'Terrorists' ...

They meet a hostile reception

Some are welcomed, others marked for return

Some are welcomed, others marked for return

Some get visas while others are held in detention

Some get visas while others are held in detention

Placard with statisics

Some of the facts on display

Signpost with keywords - visa, detention, family, safety etc

Some of the keywords

Here is the media release:

The People of Melbourne are invited to join with Year 8 students, refugee advocates, church groups, workers and community group in an installation

on the steps of the Old GPO in Bourke Street, Melbourne, at 12 midday today Monday 9 August 2010.

The Students will show us in a visual presentation how hard it is to find refuge from persecution for asylum seekers. Stories from behind the bars and wires of Australian detention centres will be read out so that Australians can hear the truth about the lives of asylum seekers and the reasons why they come seeking our protection.

Hundreds of shoes will be laid during this demonstration as a reminder of what it is to walk in the shoes of others. This action has been organized by the REFUGEE ACTION NETWORK at a time when the politicians are engaged in the politics of fear.

We will be reminding people of the facts-

that our nation of migrants has been built on and strengthened by the successive waves of people who have come to our shores to settle both by choice and out of need.

that Australia takes less than 1% of the worlds asylum seekers.

that since 1976 when the first Vietnamese boat arrived that an average of 677 people per year have arrived by boat- that this never was nor is a “flood”.

“Most Australians are lucky enough to have never known persecution and fear- we ask them to consider ‘what would you do in their shoes’ and to remember that the history of Australia is of people arriving and settling from all over the world to enrich our country.” says Pamela Curr, a member of the Refugee Action Network.

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