9 October 2007


The recent comments of the Federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews that Australia’s intake of African refugees will be cut because they were failing to integrate seems at best ill-informed and at worst a racist slur intended to win votes in the lead-up to the forthcoming election.

The Minister’s comments were widely condemned by church leaders and groups working with refugees such as the Refugee Council of Australia and the Edmund Rice Centre

Police statistics reveal that in fact a smaller percentage of Sudanese have been in trouble with the law compared to the general population. This is despite the fact that most have endured persecution, war, trauma, family breakdown and a disrupted education. The Minister’s comments detract from the efforts and achievements of many Sudanese who against the odds are working, studying and making a valuable contribution to Australia.

Perhaps rather than make an unfair generalization about a whole group of people the Minister could look at improving the level of government support provided to assist refugees integrate into the Australian community.

Perhaps too the he might consider paying a visit to one of the homework tuition sessions such as those conducted by Edmund Rice Refugee Services where he would see a group of people working harmoniously together across all barriers of age, race, culture and religion in a way that is a cause for celebration and hope, and in sharp contrast to the impression given by the Minister’s unfortunate remarks.

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