by IMOGEN BAILEY
When I was asked to be a part of the SBS documentary series Go Back to Where You Came From, I jumped at the chance to be involved.
Let’s face it, it is one thing to be sympathetic but if you don’t have the knowledge to back up your passion (not to mention the fact that to many you may be remembered from your days as a ‘bikini model’) well, you best sit down because your input could do more harm than good.
I plead guilty – guilty to always wanting to take the next step, but not doing it. I also plead guilty to switching off.
The political nightmare that surrounds this issue is dark and murky and for me a disgusting reflection of what politics is all about today. It is political opportunism of the worst kind.
So I signed on the dotted line to be a part of this documentary and felt good about the fact that I was about to embark on not only a journey of education, but also one of the best kinds – firsthand experience.
In retrospect, did I really know what I was getting myself into? No, absolutely not. I knew this trip would be confronting and I knew it would be scary. What I couldn’t prepare for was the emotional rollercoaster I was to experience (during and after the trip).
From men with guns, to tiny helpless babies who could be held in the palm of a man’s hand, I was confronted and shocked at all points of my refugee journey. I couldn’t help but wonder if Tony Abbott would feel differently about these issues if he was on the ground in Somalia and held a starving child in the palm of his hand? Figuratively speaking, he already does, as does Julia Gillard.
So, it makes you wonder how they would feel holding that baby, looking into the eyes of his mother while a translator explained that this tiny helpless child, smaller than what we would call premature, is actually 18 months old, his size due to severe malnutrition.
How would Julia feel when told that if that baby doesn’t improve by a certain point his nutrition supplements will have to be cut off, simply because there isn’t enough aid to go around?
And what about the rest of us?
I believe Australians are compassionate human beings. I believe that if they knew more about the true plight of people like those I met in Somalia, Ethiopia and Indonesia, more would stand up and say ‘hey, Julia, you are doing us a disservice.
We don’t want to be the racist country on the parody map that circulates on Facebook anymore. We want to be humanitarian leaders. It’s time we did more’.
And while we have your attention Julia ‘why do we never hear you say asylum seekers are not criminals, or that it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia? And what about the fact that we only take 2 per cent of the refugees in the world?’