The infamous photo that inspired Missy Higgins' impassioned plea on Q&A last night.

Do you think Australia should be granting a safe haven to more refugees?

That was the question posed to the panel on ABC’s Q&A on Monday night. And it sparked a moving plea for compassion from singer Missy Higgins.

Higgins told of how she was “devastated” by the 2015 photo of Aylan Kurdi – the little Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach after his family’s boat capsized during one leg of their journey to a hopefully safe home in Canada.

The 34-year-old was inspired to write her song Oh Canada, explaining how deeply the story affected her.

Missy Higgins said the story of Aylan Kurdi hit her hard. Post continues.

Video via ABC

“Like most people that saw that photo of this three-year-old boy washed up on a beach in Turkey, I was absolutely devastated.

“Because it put a human face to the crisis, and I think a lot of the time so many of us are so removed from it, especially with this rhetoric that comes out of the Government, calling these people criminals, calling them — even the word asylum seekers has a stigma now.”

The songwriter continued, saying that the way Australia treats refugees is “appalling”.

The Out Loud team explain what is happening in Syria right now. Post continues.


“So they come to our shores or they try to reach our shores and if they get anywhere close we lock them up in these detention centres that are like prisons, in fact probably worse than prisons because these people are indefinitely kept in a place where they’re suffering. They’ve had hugely traumatic experiences and have PTSD beyond belief.”

Higgins said her father volunteers as Melbourne’s Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre and “tells me the most devastating things” including of men who have scars around their ankles from being hung and tortured.

“To think we can allow these people – who are only seeking a safe place to live, that’s all they want, that’s all anybody wants is a safe place to live, to think we treat them like criminals, that’s appalling.”

Higgins’ response was met with applause from the audience, with many on Twitter praising her impassioned speech.

Others, meanwhile, disagreed that Australia should be taking in more refugees than the country already does.

Panel member Human Rights Watch international director Ken Roth, who was first to answer the question, also thought that Australia should be doing more to help the crisis in Syria.

“The irony here is that it’s much easier to bomb Syria in response to Assad’s atrocities than it is to welcome in the refugees who are fleeing those atrocities,” he said.

“We should do the hard thing. We should really open all of our doors. And I say this not just about Australia, but every wealthy government that has the means should be bringing in far more refugees.”

Image: Q&A.

Roth pointed out that the countries in the region, such as Lebanon and Turkey, were taking in a far greater proportion of refugees than their wealthier Western counterparts.

"They're carrying an enormous burden. The least we can do when we're fortunate enough to live in more advanced countries is to take in more refugees."

He added that the person's religion should not be taken into account.

Do you think Australia should be taking in more refugees? Let us know in the comments below.