Aussies’ cushy lifestyles may make them tougher on refugees – sociologist

Australians’ comfortable lifestyle may make them less sympathetic to refugees, a refugees advocate said yesterday.

Sociologist and mental health nurse Jane Hasler said many people were driven by the “I’m all right Jack” philosophy.

There was a prevailing attitude of “don’t come and play in my back yard”.

Dr Hasler spoke to Newsbytes before the World Refugee Day rally in Brisbane.

“We are not taking appropriate action to support and ease the suffering that these legal refugees who have endured so much,” she said.

“Instead we are creating significant additional horror in their lives by our attitudes and the current system of scrutinising people for an undetermined time via the current detention mandates.”

Through her work at a hospital in Brisbane Dr Hasler said she had heard refugees’ stories first hand and witnessed the panic attacks and despair of detainees caught in limbo land.

They didn’t know whether they could become citizens of Australia, while simultaneously trying to deal with the emotions from the abject stories of their country.

Dr Hasler said she wondered whether Australia’s soft, cushioned society had disconnected from the tragedies of these people and had become inhumane, neglecting levels of responsibility to care. She believed Australia had a very selective multi-cultural society and people were suspicious about legal refugees instead of opening their arms.

Dr Hasler told the rally the message had to be turned around to “they are us and we are them”.

CEO of Essential Media Communications Chris Perkins said many Australians wrongly believed their country was being “swamped” by refugees.

He said a survey showed more than half those polled thought the level of refugee entry was 50 times greater than it actually was.

Media images of “boat people” had inflamed people’s views, Mr Perkins said.

He called on media to do more research and provide more empathetic information.

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