On Tuesday 17 May, several senior students from Santa Maria and Parade College participated in a workshop regarding Asylum Seekers in Australia. From the beginning of the workshop it was clear that the room was filled with passionate young people who are appalled by the current treatment of asylum seekers. Throughout the workshop we were invited to develop and further our opinions with the guidance of Sam Dariole, from Jesuit Social Services.
We were able to gain a real insight on the matter by hearing from an asylum seeker named Reza, who is currently fleeing persecution. Whilst listening to Reza’s story we were able to reflect on how fortunate we are to be born in Australia, where we have access to education and feel safe. In acknowledging how fortunate we are, we understand that we must make use of our opportunities by helping others.

The issues asylum seekers face is an issue which should concern us all. Human rights are being violated, and therefore there must be change.

A variety of opinions and ideas on the matter were raised as this gathering, and with careful thought, consideration and compromise the group was able to create an action plan for the future. The action plan is a means by which we hope to initiate change.

As young advocates it can be difficult to be heard by those in an authoritative position. So in the near future, senior students of both Santa Maria and Parade College will continue to meet and to question and challenge politicians. At our next meeting we will have the opportunity to engage in conversation with Mr David Feeney, a local labour candidate. Our hope is to uncover any fallacies surrounding party policy. By engaging in dialogue with politicians our hope is to give a voice to the voiceless – the people who truly need representation.
Alanah Griffiths, 11 Red and Jacinta Lidoni, 11 Green

On Tuesday 17 May, a group of Santa Maria and Parade College students were invited to attend an ‘Asylum Seeker Workshop’ facilitated by the Jesuit Social Services.

We firstly had a discussion that focused on what we already know and what we wanted to find out about the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. This also included an activity where some controversial questions were put forward and we had the opportunity to debate. Something that we could all agree on was that asylum seekers’ basic human rights are being violated and as passionate young people, we want to change this.

A guest speaker, Reza, who is himself a refugee, then spoke to us and gave his eye-opening, personal story. Reza fled his country, Afghanistan, only a few years ago on his own, seeking asylum in Australia. After his difficult journey to get here, he found out that as an ‘illegal immigrant’ he wasn’t allowed to settle here permanently, has no financial support from the federal government and, even though he has been found to be a refugee, is in constant fear that he could be deported at any time.

Hearing his story of hardship and resilience was informative and moving and it definitely put things in perspective for a lot of us.

We then moved on to preparing for our meeting with David Feeney who is the Labor member for the seat of Batman.  In this meeting, which will take place on June 1, we hope to challenge some of the Labor Party’s policies on the treatment of those who come to our country seeking protection.   We will ask Mr. Feeney for his personal opinion on this issue and put forward some of our own opinions and ideas.  We trust that the advocacy of young people on behalf of those seeking asylum will be heard and respected.

The workshop was a wonderful experience and we are all glad we took the opportunity to participate. With this new knowledge, we now feel like we can make a difference in our community and encourage others to do so as well.

We also look forward to a similar meeting with the Greens candidate for Batman, Alex Bhathal, which will take place later in June.
Montanna Gerber-Corn, Year 11