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How to survive Christmas

20 December 20172 comments

The conversation around the Christmas lunch table can get problematic. For some, politics and religion are no-go zones.

Many well-intentioned people sometimes don’t know all the facts about an issue.

So if conversation this Christmas turns to the global refugee crisis and the refugees who come here to Australia, here are some talking points to help you combat myths and misinformation about refugees.

We hope these examples help you find ways to spread some knowledge as you pass the prawns this Christmas.

Awkward moment No 1

Uncle Bob: “How do we know who these people are? They have no documentation, and we don’t know what they are planning?”

You: “Australia does very thorough background checks on all refugees. The process can take year or more with ASIO screenings, in-person interviews and investigations.

Awkward moment No 2

Uncle Bill: “But the possibility of letting one ISIS terrorist into our country as a refugee is too dangerous. Why would we ever want to take that risk?”

You: “Less than one percent of refugees ever make it to a country like Australia. Only the most vulnerable refugees are selected – most are women and children who are fleeing violence and terror themselves. They can’t choose which country they get resettled to.

So, it’s very unlikely that a terrorist in disguise could scheme their way into Australia. And they wouldn’t make it through the security screenings anyway!”

Awkward moment No 3

Cousin Bernie “Anyway, these refugees will never become real Australians and integrate into our culture.”

You: “The vast majority of refugees become Australian citizens, and they are more likely to start a business that Australians. They also are just as likely to own homes as other Australians. Refugees give back so much to our culture – many famous Australians like Gus Nossal and Anh Do were refugees themselves.

Awkward moment No 4

Auntie Phyllis: “I feel bad for refugees, but we also spend too much money helping other people when we need to help Australians first. People here are hurting, too.”

You: “There are studies that show that refugees contribute a lot to our economy and have even helped revitalise struggling communities. Anyway, Australia is a wealthy country, we can afford to help refugees as well as our own people.”

Awkward moment No 5

Cousin Brian: “Why don’t we just give more money to these countries so they can help more people?  Especially when so much of our tax dollars go toward helping other countries.”

You: “How much of the budget do you think goes to international programs to help with things like the refugee crisis? Australia currently spends $4.05 billion dollars on foreign aid – that’s 0.23 per cent of our gross national income, or 23 cents in every $100. That’s roughly the same amount Australians spend on chocolate at Easter. And this is the lowest ever level of Australian foreign aid in our nation’s history.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist