Mythbuster quiz: Refugees and Asylum Seekers

By Efrosini Costa

Mythbuster quiz: Refugees and Asylum Seekers
We expose some of the common myths and misconceptions surrounding refugees and asylum seekers, this World Refugee Day - June 20.

“Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are illegals.”

FACT: It is NOT ILLEGAL to seek asylum in Australia, even if arriving by boat (1958 Migration Act)

“Australia is being swamped by asylum seekers.”

FACT: According to Amnesty International, in Australia, there is 1.1 refugees for every thousand people. In fact, in 2010, 5,500 asylum seekers arrived in Australia – that’s only 5.5 per cent of the seats in the MCG.

“Asylum seekers take places away from refugees who are waiting patiently for resettlement overseas.”

FACT: The Refugee Council of Australia says: ” The practice of deducting a place from Australia’s resettlement program each time a visa is granted to a person who arrived as an asylum seeker is simply a policy choice and could easily be changed”. No other country manages its resettlement program in this way and Australia did not do this prior to 1996.

“Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are a security threat. They could be criminals or terrorists.”

FACT: None of the refugees who have arrived by boat to Australia have been found to be terrorists, Amnesty International maintains. Also, the majority of asylum seekers who have reached Australia by boat have been found to be ‘genuine’ refugees and undergo rigorous assessment.

“Australia takes more than its fair share of refugees.”

FACT: The  UNHCR Global Trends Report 2010 shows that Australia took one refugee per 1, 000 population and ranked 69th in the world for per capita refugee intake and 49th for overall refugee intake. The report found the top 5 countries for refugee intake at that time were Pakistan, Iran, Germany, Kenya and Syria.

“Refugees and asylum seekers receive higher social security payments than Australians”

FACT: Refugees who are granted permanent residency in Australia, receive exactly the same social security benefits as any other eligible permanent resident or citizen. Asylum seekers receive no benefits.

“Refugees don’t contribute to Australian society in any meaningful way.”

FACT: “Research has shown that refugees, once they have the opportunity to establish themselves, make important economic, civil and social contributions to Australian society. Australia’s refugees and humanitarian entrants have found success in every field of endeavour, including the arts, sports, media, science, research, business and civic and community life,” argues the Refugee Council of Australia.

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