Ironic juxtaposition? ‘What Makes a Real Aussie?” poster showing 1916 ID photo of Monga Khan from Afghanistan. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.
I saw this poster a few times around Melbourne, and learned that it is part of a campaign called What Makes a Real Aussie?
The aim is not only to highlight modern Australia’s ethnic diversity, but to remind people of a previous immigration policy (finally ended in the 1970s) which sought to exclude non-white Europeans from migrating to Australia.
It follows on from an earlier campaign around the issue of refugees, called Real Australians Say Welcome. Both were created by artist Peter Drew.
It seemed an appropriate image for the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week. Not only does it ask us to consider the faces that make up our nation(s), but is also a reminder that those of us secure in our homes, countries and citizenship need to face up to the terrible worldwide crisis brought about by others being denied these things.
According to UNHCR figures, nearly 60 million people world-wide are currently displaced from their homes, including almost 20 million refugees. Just over half of refugees are under 18. Instead of living as children — playing, learning, growing within the bonds of home and family — these young people are passing their formative years in conditions of extreme uncertainty, dislocation, poverty and danger.
Many countries are grappling with the enormous and complex issues created by displaced populations. Government policies are often divisive. In New Zealand, our government continues to accept a pitifully small number of refugees — all the while talking about the “cost”of resettlement and ignoring the economic and social good brought by accepting skilled, motivated and grateful refugees. This is also the same government that earlier this year spent at least $26 million on a referendum about changing our national flag (in which the majority voted for no change); and $36 million supporting our America’s Cup Challenge. Here’s an interesting piece about this from The Timaru Herald.
Meanwhile, many ordinary New Zealanders — like our cousins across the ditch — want to say “Welcome.”
Today’s NZ Music Month choice is Welcome Home, by Kiwi music legend Dave Dobbyn. Although it was written in 2005, before the current refugee crisis, the lyrics speak even more clearly now.
Tonight I am feeling for you
Under the state of a strange land
You have sacrificed much to be here
‘there but for grace…’ as I offer my hand
Welcome home, I bid you welcome, I bid you welcome
Welcome home from the bottom of my heart