Good morning/afternoon fellow students, teachers and guests on World Refugee Day 2013. Today I am here to talk to you about a topic which I am sure you all have heard about as a hot topic on the news and it is Refugees in Detention Centers in Australia. The theme of my speech will be about ‘Social justice is equal and fair distribution of social values, such as freedom, income and wealth and the opportunity to take part in society’. I will outline and describe the different situations and settings that fellow human beings must encounter due to the way our government see it today.
Australia’s immigration policy states that any person that enters our country without a valid visa (refugee) must be placed in mandatory detention centers around the country. Fellow refugees come from all around the world; including countries like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. These people ? ee there war torn and broken down countries for a better life in Australia but are placed into these so called ‘mandatory detention centers’. Currently in Australia today we have close to 7000 refugees spread out in isolated areas.
They are locked away in hidden centers coated with barbed wire, made for only about one third of the amount in there. For example, the detention center on Christmas Island has nearly 1’200 refugees crammed into a center made for only 400. These detention centers turn out to be much worse or close to the poor conditions that they suffer back home, from where they are trying to escape. So let me give you an image of what the conditions are like, imagine coming from your country and ? nally arriving on Australian shores believing you will be able to start afresh but are soon placed into these detention centers.
These drab centers are now prone to overcrowding and nothing is being done. Does this sound right to you? This issue of Refugee’s in Australia is seen as a Social Justice concern because we are treating these refugees as prisoners. Earlier in my speech I used the quote ‘ Social justice is about the equal and fair distribution of social values, such as freedom, income and wealth, and the opportunity to take part of society’, but with these detention centers refugees aren’t being given the chance to do any of them.
They are unable to walk around freely because of the overcrowding in the centers, they are unable to make a living and provide for their families in Australia or back home and they are most certainly unable to be a part of our society due to the fact they are locked away in the detention centers. This also reminds me of something a wise man by the name of Jesus once said written in Matthew 5:3, and it was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” This quote means that the poor are no less than us and are blessed at spirit, so why are we treating them any different.
They are just the same as us. If they are cut do they not bleed, if they feel pain do they not cry. This proves that they are the same as us and should not be shunned as ‘others’. As you all should know, and I’m sure I may have mentioned it, but how are these refugees meant to live their lives and/or start fresh if they are hidden from society and community. They are being put away in the detention centers and are segregated from their families and children. Does this seem right, an encyclical written by Pope Benedict XVI, God is Love: Deus Caritas Est, in 2006 will beg to differ. Within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for digni? ed life. ” To me this reading means that the less fortunate should not be denied of a happy life and the feel of society because some people feel different about it in the community. Recently in class we have been studying social justice throughout Australia and there is one term that has stuck with me on what the distinction between charity and social justice are, and it was that charity is a ‘band-aid’ solution. Meaning that it is only there as a short term key for this ongoing problem.
Where social justice is the long term solution which will evade the main issues by going to the roots and getting rid of it. For example, the charitable action towards the refugee situation would be to visit the refugees, donate toys and clothes. Whereas the social justice action would be to build larger centers to avoid overcrowding and upgrade the centers. Also ? ght to give the refugees there own rights and help them get assimulated into surrounding communities. So to sum up the difference between social justice and charity. Social justice is a long term solution ? ing the problem and charity is a short term ‘band aid’ ? xture, which doesn’t and is only temporary. Before I mentioned Caritas Australia, they are an organisation created to help countries and people in need, (refugees). Caritas Australia is just like the Australian Refugee Foundation. Caritas began in Australia as a Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development. The role of the Australian Refugee Foundation is to support the work of the Refugee Council of Australia, ensuring that Australia continues to have an independent voice on issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers.
Actions taken by Caritas Australia are promoting an integrated approach to community development through our long-term development programs in refugee situations. And after hearing this I believe that if they can help the refugees, so can we. So to everyone here today,I hope I have been able to persuade you that we all need to take responsibility and help those in need. Now I will leave you with this quote; “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. ” – Mother Teresa (1’005 words)