Surviving Christmas this year
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 migration, multiculturalism or refugees who come here to Australia, here are some talking points to help you combat myths and misinformation about refugees and migrants.
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: “Australia is full. The roads are clogged up and the schools are full. We shouldn’t take any more migrants or refugees.”
You: “Maybe that is about successive government not planning or investing in infrastructure in our cities. There is a lot of evidence that migration has actually driven economic growth in this country. And, in any case, there are so many regional areas that are crying out from more migrants and refugees to settle there.”
Awkward moment No 2
Uncle Bill: “Multiculturalism is a failure. We see migrant gangs on the streets committing crimes and people who come here don’t integrate.”
You: “Native-born Australians are about 45 times more likely to commit a crime than a migrant. And, the latest Scanlon Foundation research shows Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of multiculturalism and migration. 85 per cent of Australians say it has been good for the country.”
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 than 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 are we accepting refugees when we give so much money to these countries in foreign aid? Shouldn’t our tax dollars mean that people stay in their own 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 and about half the proportion that most European countries give. And, it’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.”