For a nation which is a signatory to the vast majority of UN human rights conventions and which played such an important part in the foundation of the United Nations, Australia has lost its way on the basic commitments expected of a multicultural, democratic nation.
The Northern Territory Intervention, which effectively strips vulnerable communities of their capacity for self-determination and reinforces their marginalisation, and the continued detention of asylum seekers are a source of shame and anger for many Australians of all political persuasions.
This year marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of Gerry Hand’s introduction of immigration detention under the Keating government. This is a good time for the demise of this policy, which has wasted more than $100 billion dollars of public funds and seen the incarceration of more than 20,000 men, women and children.
Please read here for some recent speeches I’ve given on this issue.
I’m a proud and active member of Australia’s rapidly growing and diverse Indian community.
Because of my background in social work, I’ve often been called on to assist people within the community, most often with migration related issues, but around ten years ago, at the beginning of 2007, I realised that something disturbing was occurring. I was being rung at all times of the day and night by desperate young people, who needed urgent help for themselves or for friends who had been violently assaulted.
My take on this situation is that our federal and state governments in Australia were driven to capitalise on a burgeoning international education market in India, but failed in their duty to think ahead and plan for the needs of these students and for the social impacts resulting from the arrival of 100,000 young people in Australia’s cities.
In 2009, after spending a lot of time helping different community organisations design programs and access funds to implement them, I was approached to work on the first research study ever conducted in Australia into the community safety of international students. This study was commissioned by Victoria University and headed by Australian social researcher Professor Hurriyet Babacan.
The Indian community in Australia, which comprises up to 350,000 people, making it the second largest non-Anglo community in Australia after Chinese-born Australians, urgently needs a coordinated approach to its meet its social and legal advocacy needs, and this is one of my key priorities.