Yesterday the 54th boat this year, carrying asylum seekers, was intercepted as it made its way into Australian waters.
Last month almost 1200 asylum seekers arrived by boat, the highest number for a single month since August 2001.
It's adding more pressure on the Australian Government to find a solution, and in the meantime the home soil home stay option is being embraced by thousands of Australians.More stories from Today Tonight
Whatever Mohammed does, it's not far from the caring gaze of Hilary McVey. Whether it's cooking or just chatting, she sits in the shadows.
Mohammed isn't his real name, and he's not the usual house guest. He's a Pakistani refugee who survived the sea, to come to Australia by boat.
“Australia is good country,” Mohammed said.
Five of his friends died on that boat and one woman gave birth. After years in detention he's been granted a visa and is now learning about our ways by living in McVey’s Melbourne home.
“We've had three refugees to date and it's been very positive. We don't see it as generous, we see it as being able to unite West with East and help these people who have lived through hell,” McVey said.
Feeling the increasing squeeze in detention centres the Federal Government has joined forces with the Australian Homestay Network, and already 3000 people have registered to take refugees into their homes.
AHN's David Bycroft says only genuine offers are considered.
“There is a fee, but if you are applying to the program to pay off your mortgage, or if you're in it for the money, don't apply,” Bycroft said.
“It’s $140 per week per asylum seeker, with a maximum of two per household, but really the host has to spend quite a lot of time helping out the asylum seeker,” Bycroft explained.
In the past year more than 5,277 refugees have arrived by boat. The majority have come from Afghanistan - 2,203; followed by almost 1500 from Iran. About 300 have travelled from Iraq, and the same from Sri Lanka.
“Had they stayed in their own country they would have been killed,” McVey said.
The suburban home placement is a six week tenure where asylum seekers learn how to catch public transport, fill in Medicare forms and how to apply for a job.
By trade Mohammed is a mechanic.
“We've only placed 70 people so far, but we will place 800 by Christmas,” Bycroft said of the program.
“They do their own shopping, own cleaning up, they have a shelf in the fridge, pantry and they do their own cooking - and they don't outstay their welcome,” McVey said of her guests.
The asylum seekers then go on to find homes of their own.
We know Dr Karl Kruszelnicki as the TV personality who makes science accessible. Most of us don't know he came to Australia when he was two, arriving with his Polish parents, and initially calling a refugee camp near Albury home.
“It was tough in the sense that it was very cold. We didn't have a lot of food, but there was no one trying to kill us,” Dr Kruszelnicki recalled.
He's made the most of Australia's opportunities, and is now a prominent scientist and medical doctor, holding degrees in physics, maths, biomedical engineering, medicine and surgery, and has been awarded an Order of Australia.
His family was lucky. After time in the refugee camp, a local doctor welcomed them into his home and showed them how to make their way in a new country.
“Back in the 1950s there was nothing like that for us. We happened to stumble across something like that accidentally. It would be terrific if people had this organised at an official level,” Dr Kruszelnicki said.
Now they do.
“You think Australians are going to be angry about this but they're not. We're just getting overwhelmed with applications, so I'm proud to be Australian, and I'm really proud of the fact that people who are a bit cautious and a bit nervous are still saying we'd like to give it a go,” Bycroft concluded.Is this a good solution for the growing number of asylum seekers being granted visas?
- Australian Homestay Network - www.homestaynetwork.org
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