Today in class each group was given a different myth, which we all discussed. The one that was given to my group was, ‘Australia hosts more refugees than any other countries’. I felt very ignorant because I wasn’t aware of the actual statistics and facts about asylum seekers. This has to do with media influence. I wasn’t aware that over 90% of asylum seekers come by plane rather than by boat. I also wasn’t aware that Australia hosts less asylum seekers than other countries.
I think that the media, especially the popular media has really influenced the way I think about wider issues such as asylum seekers. This has forced me to rethink and to question what is said in the paper, on TV and on the radio. The course facilitator, Sue, gave me information that SBS and the ABC actually reference their media stories unlike channels 7,9 and 10 who don’t need the validation as to where they get their information. This made me feel like watching the more popular TV stations was like reading a woman’s day magazine or a gossip magazine, which I never do.
This made me think about the statistics that were meshed out in class as well. I learnt that Pakistan hosted 1.78 million refugees, Iran, Jordon, Chad all hosted many times over the amount of refugees that Australia hosts. This got me thinking as to why these countries host more when they are developing countries and economies themselves and are ill-equipped to take adequate care of the refugees that they host. Take for example Pakistan, the reason I think they host so many refugees is that they share a porous border that is easily breached with Afghanistan, Jordon hosts many millions of Palestinians now some of these I learnt in my own study are second or third generation refugees. Chad shares a border with war torn Sudan. Australia on the other hand is fortunate enough to not have war or massive civil unrest.
In the end I took the exercise from class with a grain of salt. Yes Australia is outperformed by many developing countries but then again our geography and our neighbors have helped us keep asylum seekers down to a low amount. This probably has left me feeling more confused than before because everything isn’t black and white, there are definite shades of grey where you have to look at the motive behind everything and every topic.
Another myth that challenged me was ‘refugees get all sorts of handouts from the government.’ I thought that this was true. I’ve always heard that refugees get more money than people on the aged or disability pension. Again this myth made me question the integrity of the wider media. I always thought that they get upwards of 70 000 dollars per person. This seems to me like a massive case of the Chinese whispers as I learnt that they essentially have the same rights and entitlements as permanent residents but don’t have to wait for handouts. They also get 510 hours of free English classes and some get access to post-arrival assistance, depending on their particular needs.
To sum this class up as I mentioned before its never black and white, there are definite shades of grey. This knowledge has impacted my way of thinking, as I now know, I can’t just believe everything I hear or read like I have previously. Check the source and the motive of the person telling that story to better understand the true meaning and to see through the popular myths. I think that I have definitely learnt this concept in this class, which I will carry outside these four walls.
Journal Entry 2- Babakiueria 13/03/12
Today in class we watched Babakueria. This mockumentary used role reversal to critique Australia’s treatment of its Indigenous people. Aboriginal actors play the colonisers and white actors play the Indigenous. I found that it was reported in a very sarcastic and condescending tone, which I must say, was very clever of the producers. I found that the mockumentary