It was hard to focus and justify this, my first post.
I wrote it several times, editing each version several times more. I had it all ready to send and be published… and then something else happened in our world to bring up anger and hurt: the use of children as political bargaining tools in our immigration system, the Sydney Siege, the en masse killing of Peshawar school children, Paris, Boko Haram, 31 missing Hazaras, Islamophobia,… the list goes on and on.
I listened intently to the conversations online that ensued. What particularly upset me were the comments filled with racism, discrimination, defamation, trolling, Islamophobia, religiophobia. (Yes, it is a word despite spell check telling me it isn’t!)
Take for instance Manus Island, baseless tweets and posts insulted locals from PNG running the Offshore Processing Centre where Australia has sent asylum seekers. Buzz about another mass riot that had previously taken the life of an asylum seeker put terror in them and their friends and families.
During a group discussion, I asked if the fear and anxiety of the asylum seekers, the staff working there, and their loved ones was worth more than the scoop of breaking news. I was told bluntly, “Every day, on Facebook and Twitter, unconfirmed rumours are spread. Social media is not the mainstream media where journalist standards apply.”
And then I realized why a news outlet such as 3rd Watch News is needed. I truly believe that social media and the mainstream media, both have an ethical and moral responsibility to do good and encourage good. We need to support more viewpoints, more good news, more every day acts of kindness into the Australian media landscape.
So here I am writing a blog for a movement powered by good to showcase the good around me that I see is hidden. I was approached to write through my role as Founder and President of The Welcome Group, a little incorporated not for profit I am proud to be a part of. Our goals are twofold: (1) Support refugees and (2) Humanise the refugee debate.
Most Australians do not know that refugees move into empty homes with no right to work. The average family of four has around $30 a week left for food and transportation. For almost two years, The Welcome Group has had an amazing team who deliver material aid to over 2,000 refugee homes. We have supplied everything you can think of: blankets, clothes, toys, cutlery, crockery, beds, couches, tables, fridges, and washing machines. Despite having NO funding and being ALL volunteers.
It is satisfying to see how The Welcome Group is dedicated to helping others and runs on passion.
You ask how we do this? Well, like 3rd Watch News, we’re also powered by GOOD. Melbourne has reached out and followed my old high school motto of “facta non verba” – “deeds, not words” and run around rain, hail, and shine to show our newly arrived neighbours that #wearesorry and that we #welcomerefugees.
Mainstream media: Myths, Lies & Hysteria. 3rd Watch News: A Light on All the Good Australia has to Offer.
I writing this blog having seen how a hate campaign bullied a guest speaker at a recent walk for refugees to cancel. But he continues online to walk the walk and talk the talk. I also recently received news that a young man released into the community after nearly two years on Christmas Island unaccompanied has been elected at his school as school captain. But I neither saw nor heard a word about it in the mainstream media.
There is plenty more to say; but right now, I will leave you with this bit of good news. Recently, our refugee friends hit the Asian Cup Iran vs. Bahrain football match thanks to several donated tickets. Some kids were so excited they didn’t sleep when they heard they got tickets. For the females, it was their first time at a game, since women attending sporting events is banded in Iran.
This strength, achievement, and excitement I spoke of are all small acts and remind me how we as Australians can sometimes take for granted the simple things in life. I hope you follow my blog and learn about people within our communities who haven’t and see, that by doing good, we can share the #welcome and bring happiness to not only others and but ourselves.