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Asylum seekers want safety for their kids

12 May 20140 comments

IMG_5184-resizedAustralia is witnessing a small asylum seeker baby boom as couples who have fled danger or persecution in their homelands feel safe enough to start or extend their families.

Settlement agency AMES has reported more than 150 babies born to asylum seeker families in the past year and 24 more due to give birth in the next two months.

Other agencies report a similar boost in births.

“What we are seeing is women saying that for the first time in years they feel safe enough to start families or have more children,” said AMES Case Manager Dearbhaile O’Hagan.

“Many of these women have gone through terrible times and, in the circumstances they found themselves in, having children was just not an option,” she said.

“Despite the challenges and difficulties they face, they are all really grateful to be safe and, more importantly, to have a level of safety and security for their children,” Ms O’Hagan said.

Asylum seeker mum Arezoo,  her husband and eldest child fled their home in Iran last year because of religious persecution.

She said having a child in Australia has been a “wonderful experience”.

“We were treated so well. I was pregnant so I was taken from Christmas Island to hospital in Brisbane,” Arezoo said.

“The nurses were very kind and helpful and the hospital provided a baby sitter and playroom for my older son while I was giving birth – everyone was very kind. We had no family here and we knew no one,” she said.

“My husband was able to be present at the birth to give me comfort and peace of mind – this would not have been allowed in Iran. The surgery (caesarean) was much easier than back home and the surgeons, doctors and nurses were very kind and friendly and the medical facilities were much better than they are at home.”

Arezoo told of her flight from her home and extended family. “We had some problems in Iran; were in danger because of our religion and it wasn’t safe for us. I was stopped and questioned by the religious police on my way to work,” she said.

“We decided to leave so went to Indonesia and came by boat to Australia. We arrived last year.

“We came to Australia because we wanted our children to grow up in a safe place without any fear. Here we can live as a family without being afraid all of the time.

“My sons are the same as any other children – they have the same right to a safe and happy life. My oldest son is going to school and mixing with Australian children and he is happy now despite the difficult things he has been through,” Arezoo said.

Despite feeling safe in Australia, the family still faces challenges. They have no work rights and they were refused eight houses before they secured rental accommodation in Broadmeadows.

Their bridging visas have expired and when the lease runs out in September they face the possibility of losing their home. There may also be issues about their children’s schooling.

Having a child born in Australia does not alter Arezoo or her family’s immigration status. “It is difficult for us not being able to work – we have so many expenses and not much money,” Arezoo said.

“We want to work and to pay tax and contribute economically – we don’t want to take the government’s money. “But we are managing and at least my children are safe – that is the most important thing. “The safety of my children is everything to me,” Arezoo said.