A focus on advocacy, building awareness and combating disinformation are on the agenda for Griffith refugee activists for 2021.
The Griffith branch of Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) met Thursday to discuss their plans for how to bounce back from a challenging year in 2020.
The group of passionate members discussed as a focus for the year how to open up better channels of communication between the group and the Griffith community in order to help address the spread of disinformation surrounding refugees.
"I think there is a misunderstanding in the community about what refugees receive in regards to help from the government. There is a lot of misinformation out there," RAR member Mike Rohan said.
"I think there are too many politicians that have entrenched views of the characteristics of the people who try to arrive to this country. I think it flows on from the White Australia Policy," Ray Mead, one of the founding members said.
Even though Griffith is not a designated resettlement location like Wagga for example, people do choose to come here because they may have family or friends living here or because, most significantly, there is a lot of work available.
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Despite the pandemic putting a stop to large group gatherings for much of the year in 2020, the Griffith RAR still managed to hold a rally to bring about awareness of people held in indefinite detention.
"I think in general the response was very positive from members of the community we talked with on the day," Phil Clarke said.
"Being a part of this group gives us the opportunity to share information and open eyes in the community. For me it comes down to wanting to make the world more humanitarian," Liz Humphreys said.
The Griffith RAR was formed in 2018 when Will and Ray Mead felt they could no longer tolerate Australian policies and ideologies that they felt were inhumane.
"The way refugees and asylum seekers are treated is something that has really bothered and upset me for a long time," Will Mead said.
The treatment of people in off-shore detention is what angered Mrs Mead particularly and the fact that in 2013 the federal government's onshore protection program excluded people who arrived in Australia by boat from ever entering the country.
"I think there are too many politicians that have entrenched views of the characteristics of the people who try to arrive to this country. I think it flows on from the White Australia Policy," Ray Mead said.