Could the migrants of yesterday help the refugees of today? 505



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With the United Nations calling on Australia to immediately increase humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, it’s worth considering what more we as citizens can do.

As Australians, our people power is immense. The “Light the Dark” candlelight vigils around the country are testament to our support for Syrian asylum seekers in what is the most urgent and most socially unjust cause of recent times.

The power of one became an ocean of candles, lighting the dark. And it shouldn’t stop there. After all, we’ve done it before…

An interesting article from March 1949 re-published in the Sydney Morning Herald, stated that the Department of Immigration’s statistical analysis reported Australia to be receiving more displaced migrants than any other country. Our response was unprecedented, with more than 100,000 displaced migrants from all over Europe moving to Australia over the course of 18 months.

As well as accommodation centres operated by the Department of Immigration, former Air Force and Army camps were converted to house the influx of refugees. At these centres, migrants would spend their first month learning English and were allocated jobs throughout the country.

While economic issues fall at the centre of the government’s argument, perhaps it is an argument they cannot win if we consider the power of one. We as citizens have the opportunity to raise our hands to help.

Many of us are now in retirement, most of us have experienced the ‘empty nest’, and our newly-found lifestyles may also have a few gaps beyond our hobbies and social lives. There is an opportunity here to help through short-term accommodation, through volunteering to teach English, to help migrants find work, to introduce them to our culture. To make them feel welcome.

People power is at the heart of change and our collective voice can alter the course of history.

What 1949’s influx of migrants created was the vibrant, multicultural society we all call ‘home’ today. Take a stroll down any urban street and see a melting pot of faces, the air filled with the smells of cuisines from around the globe. Welcoming people to our shores is not only the right thing to do, it makes life better for all of us.

Do you believe we have the power to make the government reconsider its stance on turning back refugees? And would you consider volunteering your time and energy to welcome Syrian refugees to Australia?

Guest Contributor

  1. I see a mix of both sexes here, however on the media clips I saw mainly men !!!

    4 REPLY
    • If you are referring to recent media clips of Syrian refugees, you saw mostly men because the women and children drowned.

    • Their belief is men are dominate and women are just breeders. One woman ond child every 12 months where as men can sire 1000,s. One way to dominate the world with islem’

  2. Consider the difference between a migrant and a refugee. One has an element of choice, albeit not much of one. The other is fleeing.

  3. In New Zealand migrants came and were working within days. 66% of Syrians who came to NZ in 2006 are apparently still living on benefits in state housing multipy that x 750. I am also concerned about the masses of fit young men claiming to be refugees.

    24 REPLY
    • I am also concerned about that too Ruth, most of these people have no identification and this really scares me.Where are we going to house twenty thousand plus people, in public housing?or private housing which taxpayers will pay for.

    • Sue how would you feel if you found yourself in a war torn country with no identification? And then found that because of this people were scared of and distrustful of you? Yes taxpayers will have to help pay – we can do that! It’s called helping others that can’t help. They are not just refugees – they are PEOPLE!

    • Stupid statement! Google Syria and see what is left of the place. They would love to be able to work for a living in a secure safe place – just like you. Educate yourself! !

    • I must admit I felt tge same about the fit young men who did not look to under nourished. Their wives and young children are another matter. Maybe these women would love a bresk away from their husbands

    • I noticed they had time to put their niki’s on and get their smokes. Why not get their idenification papers as in Syria they have to carry them with them at all times. This does not ad up.

    • hey Anne Churchill buckner…where are you while you are writing these hateful statements about something you obviously have not idea??? sitting on your comfy lounge?? bombs exploding in your front yard, are they??? are your neighbors being murdered in front of your children??? oh yeah, did you have a cup of coffee today??? or a shower??? try to put yourself in their shoes for 1 second & have a bit of compassion for your fellow human being

    • Isis has already answered this question Ruth Sullivan. They claim 10000 of the so called refugees are ISIS infiltrators.

    • New Zealanders have been trying to get welfare payments here for years, so what’s the difference, they didn’t receive it because they didn’t qualify.

    • Alana Heuston Fowler YOU educate yourself silly woman – This child who made the front page of newspapers was SAFE in Turkey until his IDIOT father wanted to get on the bandwagon and get into another country without too much hassle – now his kids are dead and WHO is responsible HE IS – NO ONE ELSE so stop putting shit on anyone who does not agree with you. Wake up to yourself WE cannot save the bloody world. Personally I DON”T want these so called refugees in our country. If they assimilated into the community I would be happy for them to come as migrants have in the past but they don’t. We don’t want their so called bloody religion here – they just cause too much trouble because they want OUR country to have all the beliefs of their abandoned country.

    • Alana Heuston Fowler how many refugees have you taken into your warm fuzzy home you want them how many will you accept

    • Alana Heuston Fowler so you have taken up my challenge a offered some refugee family some rooms in your home

    • Shelley Ruth Michelle Burden so I take it you have opened up your home to a family of refugees

    • Patrizia Andrews thats what I’ve been saying for years now we should bring in a 747 full of the real refugees the ones stuck behind barbed wire without proper food shelter & medical aid not the young fit men who should be fighting for their country not leaving their woman and kids to be raped and butchered

  4. In the 40’s & 50’s all of the people who came here to settle assimilated into our country, learned English, worked beside us, went to school with us, became our friends, the difference here is these people from the Arab nations are mostly muslim, they don’t speak English, probably never will unless it suits them, they expect everything handed to them, they will probably never work, will have 10 children per family, the men will have at least 4 wives, never assimilate, will not accept our way of life but try to change ours to theirs. They follow islam, they hate us infidels & will find a way to hurt us & everyone we love, because we don’t believe in their beliefs. Is this what you want for your children & grandchildren & future generations of this country. I know I don’t. So in saying that, if the people that come here are as Julie Bishop said are persecuted minority religions, i.e. Christians, then I would welcome them with open arms, but if they are muslim, no. Let them go to other Muslim countries, then when the conflict is over they can return to their own country.

    25 REPLY
    • Yep you put it in a nutshell. I remember going to my apprenticeship training in Brisbane and the wog workers got on from the cannery. It was like sitting in a cage of parrots but they are all aussies now, LOL.

    • When I worked in a bank I remember serving a woman from Syria she had been in Australia for 55 years and she didn’t speak English her son came in with her to translate. This is what will happen with most of them these refugees.

    • It’s not just Muslims that haven’t learnt English….a friends mum, from Greece during ww2, still doesn’t speak English after nearly 70 years here….but she is undyingly grateful to Australia for taking her in after the atrocities she had to cope with.

    • Thanks Dee. I lived in Sydney and there are suburbs of Greeks and Italians, Chinese, Vietnamese with the older ones who’ve been here for decades and don’t speak English. My kids have married into those families so its first hand knowledge. Lovely people,, but be honest, when the Italians first came, they were referred to as spics and dagos. They brought the mafia, organised crime. To this day the mafia controls areas of Australia and its politics. The vast majority have integrated well, despite living in strongly Italian suburbs. Just like the Greek suburbs. The Chinese suburbs. Portuguese Vietnamese suburbs etc etc. but the fear has died down over the years and they have added to our society.

    • Robyn, they are the ones being persecuted in their own country. So what do you think they want to do out here??

    • Christine, they will bring their prejudices and bigotry with them. Muslims are not recognized as a people who integrate, at least not until generations later, if then. Then we get the, don’t have Christmas Pageants in kindies and schools, don’t fly the Australian flag in schools because it offends them. Then it’s likely no bathing suits at the beach, no uncovered female heads! Its insidious. If you can see this, you have your head in the sand.

    • Cheryl I couldn’t disagree with you more and I am the first born Australian in my family. I grew up in Adelaide and anyone coud do the walk of our streets. In Elizabeth lived all the English migrants who stuck together and winged a great deal about Australia, in the south of Adelaide I had a friend who’s parents came from Italy at the ages of 13 and 14 and I meet my friend when I was 13 years old. Her mother could say a dozen words in English after living here for 2 decades. Please do not tell me that the Muslims don’t fit in and learn English. My doctor is a Muslim and she speaks better English than most Australian’s speak. Every new group of new people arriving in Australia get treated badly until the next lot arrive. We still can walk our streets and say this is where the Italian’s live, this is where the Asian’s and so on. You Cheryl are a nasty bigot person, who came to Australia by boat, or your parents did.

    • Not true Cheryl. We excluded & ostracised the Greeks, Italians & Vietnamese exactly as we are doing with current refugees. We called them Dagoes, Wogs, Slopes , said they would not integrate that they would form ghettos, steal Aussie jobs,Intoduce their weird food & culture & breed so fast that they would take over the country. The Vietnamese would bring Vietcong with them & terrorise us. Sound familiar.? Now we have forgotten our appalling behaviour & their descendants are like all other Australians.Nothing has changed except the target.

    • Deanna Dunham I worked in a factory with a real united nations of people from all over the world. An Italian guy is still a friend of mine 40 years later. His nephew is still my best friend. I was the only white man at my friend Victor from New Guinea’s engagement party in 1979. We had Polish, Russian, Yugoslav, German, Greek, Spanish and Italian guys working not only there but in other places I worked and we all got along.

    • I can’t ever remember hearing that Italians and Greeks would breed so fast they would take over the country! We had Italians living in our street in Brunswick, a hard working family and yes, the mother had some difficulty with English, but always managed to make herself understood. We rented our house from a Greek family and made friends with them. At least they didn’t want to change our culture, they were not offended by our flag, they didn’t want to change our way of life. I can’t understand why you can’t see the difference. Perhaps you are right and in generations to come we will all be one big happy country! But, what if you’re wrong? Too late then. I won’t be around to see it, but my great grand children will be.

    • Couldn’t have said it better. Coming from UK and knowing what has happened there and other European countries I don’t want Australia going down that path I have grandchildren. People must assimilate and learn to the live the Australian way not force their ways on us. These refugees are even refusing the food being handed out for their children because so called infidel’s are handing it out.

    • Spot on Cheryl , I was a child migrant in the 50’s lived in a camp for 3 yrs before my Father got a job, we arrived with one suit case between the 4 of us, my parents were happy to be in a safe Country. We assimilated very quickly, I remember my Mother saying that she wanted to go to the senior citizens club to mix with people so she can learn the English language quickly. I thank my parents for making the long journey on the ship to this beautiful country. They both died loving their adopted country.

    • Deanna Dunham. You are absolutely correct. Well expressed and spot on. It’s a wise person who learns from history and improves on it each time the wheel turns.

    • Arthur Black “This new batch’ are already working. Your doctor, your banker, you nuses aide in hospital, your cleaner, your local shop owner, your restuarant worker, the teacher in your kids school, all of ‘them’ muslims, many of them have been here for a long while, second and third generations even. They calmly and quietly provide you with health care and services, biting their lips as you malign, spread your fear of what you don’t understand, of what you’ve not noticed while you focus on your fear.

    • My local doctor is Muslim…my kids went to schools with lots of them…as it was an International School. So glad that they did and had the opportunity to learn acceptance of all races and creeds. More Aussies need to do the same.

  5. Cheryl u hit the nail on the head. the migrant’s who came here in the early years wanted to be part of Australia and did it there new country’s way. Not like the muslim’s.. They just want to turn Australia into another total muslim country and piss us of. If we go to there country we would probably end up with our throat cut.. So sorry, DON’T WANT THEM HERE. If all those piss weak men stayed and fought for there country it probably be a good country, Our brave men go and fight for them in there country. What should happen is our Government put them into the army when they get here and send them back to fight to gain there country back, SO THEY CAN STAY THERE. Don’t want my tax money spent on them. We all should go on the DOLL then there will be no Tax money for the Government to give to them.

    25 REPLY
    • Neither do I , they do not want to integrate in our society, the Migrants of yesterday worked hard.

    • Elvis, how do you know all this? it is amazing that some of us know exactly what the refugees think and what they are going to do – I call this attitude xenophobia – shame on you

    • What a stupid statement just think about what would happen to this country if every one went on the role. No tax payers would mean no dole. Then what? Think about your statement a bit more.

    • Dell Lovett Yes. The migrants of the post war years worked hard, because so many jobs were available. Some worked 2, 3 jobs. The government is going to have to build infrastructure like e.g. the Snowy River Scheme to provide work for all these people. Some good could come out of it.

    • Some people here seem to have inside knowledge that is not available to ordinary citizens – funny – sound like a Liberal information

    • Totally agree with everything you say. These Muslim cowards just run and dont stay and fight for their country, but they expect others to do it. look at all these pretend refugees that came here illegally by boat. according to the convention they are supposed to settle in the first country they land in!!

    • Just for interest most of the people fleeing Syria, most likely had jobs, most likely were well educated. They will want to work. Why does everyone think that they won’t. Where are you getting that information from? My local doctor is Muslim. And at present there are only 2.9% Muslims in Australia. A few thousand will make hardly any diff, will take it up to maybe 3.% And most of them will want to go home after this conflict is over.

    • oh Elvis, go bury your head deeper yet as you have no clue….and need a big dose of reality & education….your comment is promoting hate & represents everything bad in a human being….by the way which you are i think

    • Are the opportunities the same now for these people as they were then for those? I suspect not. Why do conservatives always measure things they don’t like with a bent measuring stick?

    • Kathy, because they have been brain-washed by the media and by other commenters on FB. You read it enough you will eventually believe it. They are steeple.

    • John Schuurman -John that is only a very small percentage of the population, the same fools who want the country to become a Republic.

    • Anneli Sinkko still got the blinkers on have you? You haven’t heard of the calls by Muslims to change our law to Sharia law, you haven’t heard of the refusal by Muslim women to comply with our laws, refusing to remove headwear when going into a bank etc, driving with their vision impaired. The reason some of us have information is because we take notice of what is happening around us.

    • Glenda Draper You mean like the Muslims that came to Australia seeking asylum because they were supposedly at risk of being killed in their home country? Those same Muslims who after a couple of years here petitioned the government to pay return airfares for them to visit family in the old country? The only sheeple on here are the likes of you who choose not to believe the facts placed in front of them. Guess we just can’t fix stupid.

    • Glenda Draper really ? do they have the same benefeits as what we do , do they have the same law and order ? if we wish to drive somewhere we are not questioned by the authorities

    • Frederick, what are you talking about? Who has what benefits? Why are you questioned if you drive somewhere? Make sense please.

    • Graham, I have compassion and have done quite a bit of research. I know that not all of them are perfect. Are you? We need compassion, this is a humanitarian crisis. I will help as much as I can. I will donate money to help. You can sit on your little throne and lord it over the rest of the world, because you are all right living in your safe little world.

  6. The migrants of yesterday worked hard without handouts and built this nation….today they want and expect handouts….this is wrong….my parents are turning in their graves.

  7. I was born here and if you think white Australia wanted any of these immagrants here, your wrong. But we accepted you , so why can’t you accept others?

    4 REPLY
    • Yep, they were spicks, wogs, goat eaters, slopies, all sorts of nasty names. The difference is the governments of the time weren’t adding to the racism

    • No it is not Mary Lacey , at that time Australia was isolated from the rest of the world, we had no internet , most homes didn’t even have a phone. The white Australia policy ended because so many of our boys died in WW2 and Aussie did not want these foreigners here, we had no choice

  8. Our Migrants who came to Australia in the early days were much happier and peacefull people who wanted to know all about our country and was gratefull for every thing…………BUT todays Migrants its all about hand outs and what they can get for nothing, they dont want to understand our country……………. but their more concern turning taking and not blending in and turning our country into their rotton home land that in fact could not wait to leave.

    25 REPLY
    • Well I have a bite?? Anneli just maybe you need to open up your eyes and look back in our early days when our migrants came to Australia and we all got on (never about taking) ……….But todays migrants all about what they can get for nothing……They put up in hostles cloth feed Medical Dentist etc……and if they dont get what they want ………you see on the news were their smashing furniture until their heard……are they gratefull?

    • It makes me angry that you and yours were able to be given an opportunity but you want to deny others…dont generalise. .i bet your family the older members still speak in their own language i am a first nation Australian you are an interloper stop with the you are any better than any other human being

    • opportunity to work and add to the country and assimilate, no problems, but that is not always the case, check out what’s happening in UK, talk about entitlement demands without ever trying to get work and paying tax to help others,

    • Maria Poland – that has not been my experience. I am also a migrant and our family paid for the trip to this lucky country – we saw it advertized in our local papers: come to Australia – the lucky country. We were enticed and so we arrived – but there was no special treatment – I have no idea where you get your information from?

    • You seem very well informed Maria Poland,I can only assume you have had personal dealings with refugees!! Judging from you’re spelling and you’re use of the English language it seems that Australia isn’t too hot on education!!

    • Maria Poland. Were you here in Australia in the 40’s? We all got on? You must be joking. As someone whose family has been here since the early 1800’s, I look back on that time, and feel we could have done so much more and treated the newcomers so much better. However, some here had lost sons and husbands in the war, and there were still hard feelings against some from particular countries. But we did learn to forgive and forget, some of my good friends married some “new Australians”, who are now as Aussie as every one else.

    • I think she is a fool…..i have yet to meet a refugee from the late 40s 50s who were lucky enough to arrive here after the war when yes there was work enmasse who do not still speak their own language when among there own and they also had enclaves suburbs where they built and congreagated after leaving the hostels ..Lets call a spade a spade it isnt anything to so with integration or work it is to do with Islmaphobia and that is wrong the vast majority of muslims are good people..ISIS is not of Islam they are a mob of crazies same as the ones who leave here to join them look at their histories mental issues instability..Be honest people at least…

    • Nonsense Maria. They were no different to today’s refugees & we treated them just as badly. They were Dago Mafia, Wogs, Slopes, Vietcong.They were excluded & ostrcised but now we pretend that it was all cosy , that we welcomed them & they were eternally grateful.I am so tired of reading these fantasies which are no more than an attempt to justify our bigotry & fear.

    • I can tell you most “white” Australians, hated the “dagos” that’s what we called them or “w o g s” (bloody fb doesn’t like that word). They did work hard, but they didn’t assimilate that well. Took a couple of generations to do that. The same will happen with people from other countries, because that is what they are PEOPLE first. I know of quite a few old Italian and Greek families, and they stuck together in their own groups, many of the older generation never learnt to speak English very well. So stop making judgement calls that you have no idea about.

    • Maria Poland…….have you had first hand involvement with modern day refugees mrs to have such warped totally fabricated views. Am I right in thinking the aborigines are the true blue Australians. Did they refuse your for fathers. I think not. Broaden your horizons.

    • Anneli Sinkko Wooo mate your not reading my comment back in the early days accepting new migrants into our country was so exciting for us all as they wanted to be part of my country and learning about all about their country and ours………..BUT today their such a different attitude FULL STOP…remember we are all entitle to our opinions cheers

    • Deborah Davers you can have your opinion but let others have their say as well (did I spell ok that time for you)

    • check your history Aboriginies were the 1st invaders on Australian soil I grew up in the 50’s 60’s yes I followed suit called them eyeties dagos chocolate drops wogs dont remember dago mafia where’d that come from, slopes flatface yeah guilty but moslimes will never intergrate as the other above did & that is what scares the shit out of most Australian’s now can any of you dogooder “ladies” feel safe to walk down Canterbury Rd Lakembla by yourself in a short skirt without your uncle, father,husband, brother, son or other male chaporone at night now that I’d like to see

    • Maria. You are definitely entitled to your opinion, but your thoughts then were definitely different to most that I knew. I admire you; think you would have been in the minority though, unfortunately.

    • Yvonne Jackson First I am a dinki di Aussie nmate…………Dont get me started on the war mate as my Grandfathers faught to give a safe place to live in our brothers fought in Vietnam……..they be turning over in their graves to see what Australians become……….

    • Yvonne I am not a racist mate but their is a time when we need to stop the intake of migrants………when so many of own country are struggling ………….no roof over their heads and even some living in cars doing it damm tough………..and yet these migrants will get more given to them than own ………stop being a bleeding heart

    • Deanna Dunham just maybe your the one carring around an issue not me with all those names………tottally uncall for.

    • Maria. I am not a “bleeding heart”, and I certainly do not want to see this country overrun to the detriment of our own people, but as a part of the world, I feel we must help some – we cannot leave it to others to shoulder all the burden.And we cannot let “fear” colour our thinking with regard to who we take. Just my opinion. Everyone has a different perception

    • Yvonne we have give so much to migrants all the boat people who came in our back door now I am standing up to have a say……and our Politicians should start thinking about our own people for a change as their are lots of elderly and the young need assistance urgently.

    • Maria Poland Vietnam was a war for US multi national to make millions and they did, read your history, how did it start???

    • Maria I am a migrant and have never received any hand outs from the governments of this country, so please don’t generalise without getting your facts right. Indeed, migrants have to put up a Bond prior to migrating to prove they can support themselves for 12 months. The rules may have changed a little, but migrants still have to put up a Bond, unless they are being sponsored by a company who is then financially responsible for that person.

    • Maria, there are migrants, refugees, and illegal immigrants who try and come through the “back door” (as you put it) or who come here on a visa and try and stay. The number of “illegal immigrants” are primarily made up of English and Irish, despite what people may think to the contrary.

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