Reporting Australia Refugees
By Xiyue Cao
Xiyue cao, UC third year Sports Media student.
According to Peter Mares (2002), reporting Australia’s asylum seekers came across basis issues and personal understanding. As media leads to the attitudes of people towards refugees and asylum seekers, it is very important to know the crisis in reporting Australia’s asylum seekers. When talking about refugees, contexts always include terrorist activities, diseases. The stories always invoke both sympathy and fear. Even political leaders will misunderstand terminology about refugee or asylum seekers, let alone some bad titles for them such as “queue jumpers” or “illegal refugees” and so forth.
Department of Parliamentary Services of Australia government provides the definition of “asylum seekers and refugees” according to the UNHCR and Convention. As Australia has a long history of accepting refugees for “resettlement and over 700000 refugees and displaced persons, including thousands during and immediately after World War II, has settled in Australia since 1945”. To solve confusion and misinformation in the public debate is the big deal to help Australia citizen understand more about them and to help them. In terms of the things people worried, such as disease and so on, government published the document to explain the fact. Other parties, such as The Greens, also try to seek approach to asylum seeker and refugees in Australia. This year, ACT Greens are committed to a long-term, practical and humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees that rejects the failed policies of detention of children, indefinite detention and off-shore processing.
Jessie Taylor in her article Behind Australia Door (2009) reveals the harsh living conditions for the asylum seekers can “range from acceptable to appalling”. Their living conditions are generally unsanitary, unsafe, isolated and utterly inappropriate for children.
In terms of the approach of reporting refugees’ stories, the ability of doing research plays an important role. According to the observation by Marcel Machill and Markus Beiler (2009), seach engines, in particular Google, dominate the source-determination process and thereby have a decisive influence on the entire course of journalists’ research. And the internet gains in significance which helps to fulfil more efficiently.
Prior to commencing the project of reporting refugees, I don’t have much contact with asylum seekers and refugees. The only way to know them is through watching TV or listening to the radio programs. Another way is through some charity activities, there are many groups or organizations hold charity activities in Canberra. I talked to one volunteer who used to be a refugee and after he got his citizenship and his work, he now working for the UNHCR in Sydney.
Prior to commencing work on reporting refugee this semester, my attitude to refugee and asylum seekers is quite complex. Firstly, I felt them always illegal to come or “queue jumpers”, which offends the notion of fair play. (Mares, 2002). “After the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington, Australia domestic context was an atmosphere of panic about the unauthorised arrival of mostly Middle Eastern(Mares, 2002).” So, before I did this project, I was influenced by media or context and worried terrorist activities when I thinking about refugees. What’s more, I related them to some disease, such as hepatitis B and C, because they lived in refugee camps for so long, with very bad medical care. They also might have bad cleaning habits, so I thought even they moved to a safety place, they still won’t change their habits. As a result, my attitudes to refugee and asylum seekers at previous time are both involved in sympathy and fear.
On Assignment For #Reporting Refugees
The first thing I learnt about is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee. According to 1951 Convention, asylum seeker is “someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined”, so in contrast, a refugee is “someone who owing to well-founded of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”
Secondly, I learnt that many refugees before they arrived to a safety place, they suffered a lot not only physical, but also mental. The talent I interviewed who is a Brumes, she and her family has to live outside in a farm and sleeping on the grass, their kids has to sleep on the top of them. Their life at that time is hard. But impressively, after she got scholarship in Canberra, she would like to go back and to help more refugee and asylum seekers.
And there are many refugee students; they living depend on the scholarship which is provided by universities or government. When they are studying, they would like to join UNHCR or Red Cross to help other people, they would like to do some volunteer jobs to help.
Thirdly, during the interview I found that some of the refugees they have already got their certificate in some field, such as pharmacy in their own country. But after they came to Australia, they have to rebuild their certificate which is very harsh for them. They have to spend more years to learn what they’ve might learnt for three or four years and the worse thing is learning in another language.
As a result, after I did couple of interviews with the president of CRS and some refugees, I found they are very good. In my point of view, they should very proud of themselves. Pyu Pyu Mon, the Burmese refugee said “we don’t say thank you from our mouth, we say thank you from our heart”. She now learning health care, she wants to go back home to help others. Normally, we will think that if someone just escaped from a terrible place or war zone, they might never want to go back. But she also wants her children to go back to have a look there are still many people living in a very harsh situation. Like Jessie Taylor in her article Behind Australia Door (2009) revealed, except the living condition, they also under the bad situation from detainees. “Detainees are often denied schooling, appropriate food, medical care and clean water. Detainees suffer malnutrition, depression, anxiety, skin diseases, vomiting and diarrhea, and have been subject to violent beatings”.
Through the research, I found The Greens has a new approach to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. They have long-term policies, which include community based approach, asylum seeker support fund. They also have practical policies, which aim to play a leading role in our region, to increase Australia’s intake of refugees. They also have humane policies, which includes there will be no children in detention and judicial review.
Policies about refugees always the most important topic in Australia and Australia has a long history of accepting refugees for resettlement and over 700000 refugees and displaced persons have settled in Australia since 1945. I also know actually there is no orderly queue for asylum seekers to join. After I interviewed the refugee, I found that not all refugees relating to terrorist activities.
Lessons From The Field
Reporting refugees is not a simply issue like our daily bulletin news. First of all, refugees are very care about their privacy, because they need to protect their families. Some of their family members still living in the border line or refugee camps, so reporting their stories should be very careful. And some refugees are required not allow to do video stories.
What’s more, we need to be very patient to communicate with refugees. Refugees always think more because they need to make sure their family members are under safety situation. So when they reply email or arrange interview times, they always take long time.
We also need a good communication skill when we are trying to contact organization and groups. Because many organizations are doing volunteer jobs, the staffs are busying doing their own job. Moreover, they will freak out if we just said we are going to publish some stories. They haven’t got a chance or experience to be interviewed, so the first responds they would like to choose is just escape. So, like what happened this semester. We couldn’t push them to accept interviews; what’s more, we need to let them understand our project and the meaning of reporting refugee stories. Maybe we could find other way to let them know and to let them accept the ideas.
As a result, if I faced the same thing, I will try to find other group who would like to be interview and talked about their organizations. If I really want to interview this group such as MARSS, I will try some other ways, such as talked to someone they know, and let them to talk to MARSS.
This semester, I came across a lot of difficulties especially on contact talents. However, we finally finished the story. The lesson I learnt is never give up, and tried to find more sources in a time in and do a good research which I think is the most important thing. We have topic and news angle at the beginning, but we have to change them according to our interview situation. I will never just waiting email responds all the time; I will do some things positively.
Reporting refugee is not just a project to practice journalism students’ skill, but to understand how to communicate and to care. Because of the hard interview difficulties, we’ve learned how to get in touch with refugees and also changed our attitude and understanding to them. We practiced research skills because of the difficulties we met for contact interviewees. We’ve learnt to hold on and be patience to interview talents and the organizations. Doing this project in field, we are no longer journalism students; we are the real journalists who reporting issues and current affairs.
Beiler. M & Machill. M (2009) The important of the internet for journalistic research Journalism Studies, Vol. 10, No.2, pp.178-203
Mares. P. (2002) Reporting Australia’s Asylum Seeker “Crisis”, Media Asia, Vol. 29, No. 2 Retrieved from http://apo.org.au/commentary/reporting-australia-asylum-seeker-crisis
Meijer. I. (2001) The public quality of popular journalism: developing a normative framework, Journalism Studies, Vol.2, No.2, pp.189-205
Phillips. J. (2011) Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?
Retrieved from http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/sp/AsylumFacts.pdf
Taylor. J (2009) Behind Australian Door Report
The Greens, (2011) A new approach to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Retrieved from http://greensmps.org.au