Some Days I Just Get Really Cranky ...
Uh oh, its one of those .......
After the success of our sculpture show opening last week (SMALL-large-big-LITTLE @ Gallery Red, as part of Sydney Fringe Festival investigating the 'human condition'), and the continued good vibes coming from the show, quite frankly today I have hit a wall.
Supposedly, I was to be out at Villawood Detention this arvo, but circumstances destroyed that opportunity - and instead, I found a reply from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre (ASRC) waiting for me in my email.... and so I get to write about something completely different to what I thought I would 12 hours ago in today's 'little' blog.
I say 'little' with a touch of sarcasm, as it is actually longer than normal. I have copied and pasted 2 emails I have received over recent days. They will speak for themselves. The first is from someone who I love dearly, but I take an extreme dislike to the type of hate this sort of content continues to generate within the community. Of course, the names are deleted, as I do not want to drop anyone in it if it was an unintentional forward - but be aware: this rubbish continues to be circulated.
Fw: Australian Federal Police - Some of the truth about the illegal boat people
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ILLEGAL BOAT PEOPLE I FOUND NO. 5 VERY DISTURBING.
(From An Inspector at the Australian Federal Police)
We have all had discussions about the illegal boat people at some time or another.
Most of us can't understand why the Australian Labor government continues to pay for these illegals, while hard working Australians continue to suffer the brunt of taxes, levies and tolls to help pay for this Labor governments' misspending.
Well the time has come for the truth, I am asking everyone who receives this email to spread this information as far as you can, in the belief that it will end up with someone who will do something about it.
According to this Australian Federal Police Officer, who obviously can never be named, here are some of the facts he believes you should be aware of.
 Currently the Federal Police are not producing as many drug busts due to the millions
of dollars of their budget being put into intercepting illegal boat people.
 When the boat sank last year off Christmas Island, the Australian authorities were throwing life jackets to the children and the adults were swimming to where the life jackets were, then pushing the children under the water and taking the life jackets to save themselves.
 When the boat people arrive here, they have already printed out from the internet their rights and have a list of welfare benefits that they demand from the Australian Government.
 Whilst in detention they tell the guards that they are here to serve them and the Federal Police have already investigated a number of assaults on detention staff resulting from them "not respecting" the detainees. In other words when a guard doesn't respect or serve these illegal boat people to "their" satisfaction, they believe it's fine to backhand them to gain a little more respect.
 After spending around 6-9 months in detention, the illegal boat people have approximately $10 000 saved in "welfare payments" from the Australian Government. They then send the money home and arrange for the next family member to come here on a boat. This means we are actually paying for the continuous flood of illegal boat people via the welfare payments provided to them.
 The boat people are all "given" mobile phones and allowed to phone whomever and where ever in the world they please. The reported cost of the combined telephone bills for the first quarter of this year was around $5,000,000.Yes, you read correctly, five million dollars all provided by the Australian taxpayer.
 Residents and the Federal Police on Christmas Island only have dial-up internet which we all know is impracticable in today's internet age. Yet all the detainees have broadband internet care of the taxpayer.
These are all facts that simply cannot be spoken about by those who know.
Well the time has come Australia to say enough is enough.
Please ensure that you spread this as wide as you possibly can.
As I didn't know the exact answers to refute this I asked the ASRC for help. Here is they're most enlightening reply:
Thank you for sending this email through, it has been forwarded to me. We usually have set responses to email spreading misinformation, but we do not have one ready for this email so i hope these links and further information can help you.
I believe this media release from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship was prepared in response to this email. It disproves some points stating that; asylum seekers do not receive mobile phones for personal use, asylum seekers are not abusing staff at any detention centre, they have limited internet access and that they do not receive any welfare payments.
Further on welfare payments, The Parliamentary Library has recently released this fact sheet and previously published this background note (http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/AustGovAssistRefugees#_Toc336609245), which they update regarding welfare payments to asylum seekers and refugees. These publications will tell you that; an asylum seeker receives no Centrelink payments while in detention or living in the community and waiting for the application to be processed. Some (not all) asylum seekers living in the community do have access to a payment called the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme, which comes to 89% of the Newstart Allowance. Once an asylum seeker is approved for a protection visa they can access the same Centrelink payments as an Australian citizen. This makes point 5 completely false.
As for points 2 and 3, I could not find any links claiming that this has happened in any boat tragedy and I would believe them to be completely made up, however I could also not find any links to disprove this either.
Finally for point 1, it is not asylum seekers fault if drug busts are down because of funds being diverted. But this article published last month suggests that Australian Federal Police are still seizing illegal drugs that are coming into Australia.
Further i am attaching these links; one to a Media Watch Report disproving a story from Today Tonight about refugee and asylum seeker payments and this Weekend Sunrise segment busting the same myths which have been useful to others in the past.
I hope this information has helped you out and if you feel comfortable please send it on to whomever sent you that horrible email. If you need anything clarified further or have any other questions please do not hesitate to send them to this email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will do our best to answer them.
ASRC Campaigns Team
I must thank Silas and the team working to not just help these people, but fight the hate campaigns as well.