'A little help from my friends' introduces us to a small community of Asylum Seekers seeking to make a new life for themselves in Australia. Liam, a young University student, after regularly visiting detention centres for several years, became aware of the nightmare facing asylum seekers once they were released into the community. With no work rights and virtually no other supports they were left to fend for themselves.
With the help of other young volunteers Liam set up a drop in centre and food bank but more importantly – a space of welcome, acceptance and hope.
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A Little Help from my Friends: Liam's Response TipsShort term: Locate the Australian movie 'A Well-founded fear, view it and discuss it with a group of friends.
Medium term: Look up the Edmund Rice Centre Homebush [in Sydney] and print out their Ten Facts about Asylum Seekers. Check out what they say from your own research. Share what you find out with a friend.
Longer term: Find out ten key facts about refugees and asylum seekers and make a computer screen saver for each fact. Have that screen saver change regularly and automatically during the day or each month make one of the key facts the signature line on your emails.Short term: Make an effort to say 'hello' to and build a relationship with anyone at your workplace, study class, sporting club etc that is obviously a new arrival in Australia.
Medium term: Find out the email address for your Member of Parliament and the key Members in both Government and Opposition linked with Immigration and email them your concerns about our need to honour our obligations under the UN treaty for Refugees.
Longer term: Identify organisations that support refugees and asylum seekers; finding accommodation, tutoring in English, assisting in filling out forms, mentoring, and building friendships and volunteer your services. Share about your experience with a friend.Short term: Attend a Refugee / Asylum Seeker rally during Refugee Week – normally held in the middle of June. Chat to a refugee about their story, their life experience and reason for coming to Australia. Tell a friend about your conversation.
Medium term: Make contact with organisations like Amnesty International, the Edmund Rice Centre Homebush, The Refugee Council of Australia – find out the name / names of people suffering mandatory detention and write them a letter of support.
Longer term: Look for the events calendar for refugee week in your area and regularly attend film festivals or public talks linked with issues to do with refugee and asylum seekers; your presence lets others know they do not walk alone.Short term: Get on the mailing list for an organisation that is working with or supporting refugee and or asylum seekers or sign an on-line petition to the Government in support of the rights of refugee and asylum seekers. You could also find out when the annual refugee and asylum seeker march is and get involved.
Medium term: Research where there are refugee or asylum seeker support programs and services in your area. Volunteer as a tutor or provider of crises accommodation or invite people you have got to know to join you and your friends and family for a meal or coffee.
Longer term: Reflect on your areas of influence [at work, in sporting clubs, in institutions] – and actively invite the presence of refugees and their participation and contribution to the life of that group.