A Federal Government telemovie aimed at deterring boat people is unlikely to stop desperate asylum seekers reaching our shores, says social activism group GetUp!
GetUp! asylum seeker campaign worker Alycia Gawthorne told the Newsroom the $4 million being spent on the movie would be better used on foreign aid.
“The fact that the government thinks a telemovie will deter asylum seekers shows a lack of understanding of the reasons why people seek asylum in the first place,” Ms Gawthorne said.
“I highly doubt people who are trying to protect their family from the Taliban will change their mind based on a telemovie.”
The Federal Government last night announced the film, commissioned by the Customs and Border Security Agency, would be broadcast in countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which accounts for a high percentage of asylum seekers.
It will contain strong messages from the Australian Government about its asylum seeker policy, and will help outline the dangers of travelling to Australia by boat and dealing with people smugglers.
An Immigration Department spokesperson made the announcement on ABC’s Lateline and refused to say if the film was being marketed to audiences as a government-funded project but that “each broadcast will be accompanied by a major awareness campaign across television and social media”.
Ms Gawthorne said the government could better use the money spent on the campaign to assist foreign aid investments, and help asylum seekers process applications in a faster and more correct way.
“The Government could provide more support to the UNHCR (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) which would allow them to process applications faster, and help reduce the need for people to get on boats,” she said.
“Australia is falling behind in our commitment to foreign aid, which is currently at record lows.
“The $4.1 million spent on producing a telemovie could make a huge difference to the lives of people in developing countries.
“The government spends billions of dollars trying to deter people from reaching Australia, but completely overlooks the need to address the reasons why people are forced to flee their home countries.”
The Federal Government will broadcast the film to foreign countries later this year. – Ben Potter
Top photo from DIBP Images.