Last year, as part of the 125th anniversary celebrations for St Raphael's Parish, many people from Cowra and surrounding areas attended a thought provoking public lecture by prominent refugee advocate Phil Glendenning on the topic of asylum seekers.
Phil’s personal experiences with asylum seekers and refugees left many people astounded that such atrocities could be happening to fellow human beings, in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq as well as in Australian-run detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.
If you are interested in learning more about the asylum seeker and refugee debate, put Tuesday October 25 into your diary as Phil Glendenning is coming back to Cowra.
Phil is President of the Refugee Council of Australia and has been Director of the Edmund Rice Centre since its inception in 1996. He is widely sought after for media comment and consultancy in Australia and overseas.
In his work for the rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Phil led the Edmund Rice Centre's research team for the Deported to Danger series which monitored the safety of rejected asylum seekers in 22 countries, and resulted in an internationally screened documentary, "A Well Founded Fear", in 2008. He was also a consultant on the landmark 2012 TV series "Go Back to Where You Came From."
With a background in education, law, political science, and overseas aid and development, today Phil is primarily involved in human rights advocacy and education, peace and reconciliation work (including indigenous Australian reconciliation). Phil has also been working to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on marginalised peoples (particularly in various Pacific islands).
Phil will be bringing a 21-year-old Afghan Hazara man named Zaki with him. Zaki will speak first-hand about his experiences as a refugee from the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Zaki’s brother was killed by the Taliban and his father kidnapped, never to be seen again. He will also discuss his treatment by the Australian government, who are trying to force him and other Hazara refugees back to Afghanistan. Hazara people are Muslims but are persecuted by the Taliban as they are Asiatic Afghans. This Hazara persecution was compellingly portrayed in the Khaled Hosseini novel “The Kite Runner” (which was also made into a movie).
In response to the civil war in Syria and the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the Australian government announced last year that it would make an extra 12,000 humanitarian refugee places available. While this might be seen as a generous response, the reality is that only a fraction of that number (approximately 2,000) has actually been resettled in Australia.
When we compare that number to the more than 30,000 Syrian refugees who have been resettled in Canada over the same period, it could be argued that Australia is dragging its feet in relation to its refugee resettlement commitments.
The aim of the lecture is to give the general public the truth behind the refugee and asylum seeker debate (rather than the myths). Hopefully then people will be inspired to put pressure on our political leaders to change the way Australia deals with the humanitarian crises happening in so many countries around the world.
The lecture will be held on Tuesday October 25 at 7.30pm in the Mother Scholastica Learning Centre at St Raphael's School. Entry is by gold coin donation with a light supper included. Everyone is most welcome to attend what should be a very interesting, informative and topical presentation.
St Raphael's Parish