Barriers to acceptance

If you were forced to leave your homeland suddenly, what five things would you take with you?

On Sunday June 23rd I was part of the unique event with 150 audience – The Five Things Project organised by CMY Centre for Multicultural Youth held at the M.A.D.E Museum in Ballarat. For two hours we had a chance to put ourselves in refugee shoes. Most of us struggled with strong emotions hearing very personal survival stories.

Barriers to acceptance australian democracy Padlocks on a fence of Sydney Harbour Bridge Australia
Barriers to acceptance Photo © Aldona Kmiec 2011

Ever since migrating to Australia, I have been asking myself a question what can we do to broaden the acceptance and shed more light on issues surrounding the multiculturalism in Australia. There is so much condensation in the media that people quickly become disinterested and disengaged. What is  the difference between the illegal and legal immigrants, refugee and asylum seekers? Here is some helpful info on Human Rights Website:

I really dislike the saying ‘the boat people’. It’s derogatory.

Some people ask questions why asylum seekers choose Australia and not other closer countries to go to; some people think that is it illegal to come to Australia by boat but Australia has obligations to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in this country, regardless of how or where they arrive and whether they arrive with or without a visa.

Some people believe that refugees have a choice when to leave and ‘have time’ to organise their unplanned journey. Most people who don’t know what it is like to be in refugee’s shoes will remain bystanders not wanting to know or not knowing how to lend a helpful hand. Most people who have been in one way or another touched by the refugees stories, will try to take some form of action. So congratulations to CMY for organising this special event.

Culture Diversity Australia Iconic Sydney Opera House
Newcomers, Sydney Opera House Photo © Aldona Kmiec 2011


It seems that more and more people are prepared to speak up, take action and share their views openly promoting culture diversity, indigenous community, multiculturalism, understand more about refugees and asylum seekers. We’re moving from a safe bystander position to a more informed one. It feels better, we are becoming a more engaged society.

How else can people understand these if they are not getting involved and informed? Perhaps talking to a person from a different culture and learning about their experience is the easiest way to understand another human being without labelling. Or visualising yourself in someone else’s shoes. Do you know who your neighbours are?

Yet things like here in this article about ‘illegal immigrants’ below still pop up. Is this what the general public think or believe? I would like to think that not. Read this debate and make up your own mind based on facts and experience not prejudice.

The facts on refugees and asylum seekers by Amnesty International here:

Barriers to acceptance