I have been informed that in August of this year, this is what people were getting ‘thrown’ at them at the Hal-Far, so-called, ‘Open’ Center (Hangar). [A small side note: This hangar does not provide electricity for the number of tents that occupy this massive hanger. There is very little light, no fans, no heaters (in the winter) because some years back the place caught fire and the people who are responsible are afraid to re-install electricity. There is just one 'electricity point' at one end of the hanger where people can charge their mobiles].
This flier is representative of a society that has not come to terms with the great divide that there is between the ‘us’ and the ‘them’ – and the worst thing about all of this is that nothing is really being done to bridge this cultural and social gap.
As long as we do not have an invasion of boats, than we seem to be OK with our token charitable events and give-a-ways. That is not enough, important definitely, but not enough.
What we need is a process of engagement.
We need communities to come together. None of us need to change. What we need to have is a community that gives the space for all and respects differences. The challenge is in learning how to live together. The challenge is in constructing a platform where ideas can converge, once again not to have a melting pot effect, but to have an opportunity for ‘dialogue’.
But how will this happen?
Some ideas come to mind:
- Improved media coverage;
- Better social and public policy;
- More financial and human resources funneled to AWAS and Detention Centers;
- Regularized employment opportunities;
- Active involvement of Local Councils and civil society;
- An improved detention policy;
- An NGO sector that is willing to work with the State and vice-versa;
- More cultural mediation with children in schools.
Is this too much to ask for? It sure doesn’t sound like rocket science to me!
I think irregular immigration (which is a reality we will keep facing ’till death do us part’) can either be seen simply as a social and economic burden or else try to capitalise on this tough experience and find the economic opportunities and the positives in the cross-fertilization of cultures.