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And I will walk 500 miles … and I will walk 500 more!

By Jane Salmon

Nope. Sod that.

Today I heard of two Tamil women living with immigration uncertainty who were ringing around their community at dawn asking what sort of walking boots to get.

Does a Fair Go in Immigration require 10000 refugees or visaless minorities already struggling in uncertainty to don fluoro, backpacks and walk 1000km each for permanency? No.

Does it require a refugee being passed like a parcel from well-meaning ally to ally in a relay of 70 towns? No.

That is way too extreme.

Many asylum seekers have bravely walked before: to mixed effect. It is however possible for refugees to campaign for a better visa from their precarious Aussie homes (such as they are).

Recent precedents offer hope to some Tamils who left Sri Lanka 12-16 years ago. The in-country conditions of the time are now mapped out for Tamils applying to Immigration.

If you are not Tamil, you can still assemble the evidence of conditions in your country at the time you were forced to leave and submit it with your application.

Refugees cannot all access mainstream multi-media campaigns. Refugee sector resources are not there. Moreover, your privacy is precious.

Right now, it seems that “getting a go” does require each refugee to put in an application for Ministerial Intervention through their lawyers … even if things have not gone well in the courts or by negotiation with Immigration before.

Will you buy new hiking boots plus podiatry … or a lawyer? It’ll cost at least $250 for either. I promise you, you’ll need a reputable lawyer, so start there.

Hard-pressed refugees don’t need to abandon their responsibilities at home to obtain a future. Keeping families safe is vital.

Skip the boots. Get someone to help write up your story and assemble home country data.

Perhaps you feel up to engaging with your local community (in the same way some high-profile families have) to become better known.

Bona fides & connection or trust do help speak to your character.

As we all know, volunteering is a great way to build up language skills, recover mental health and learn the written and unwritten rules of a place. But also protect your own interests; give of yourself only when you can.

Beware the patronisation of Anglo allies. We all have egos and agendas. We are all scrambling to show off what we think we can do. Being pulled in many different directions may not be what you need. Try to define your situation yourself.

But have courage. There are signs that greater fairness is possible.

We see you. Tell activists what you need. We are here to be educated and to help.

Let’s give uncertainty “the boot”. Get those applications and petitions in. We need a register of applications made.

Otherwise, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and there will be a fluoro-clad, backpack-laden throng of all ages and stages bootscooting outside APH until everyone has permanency. Those optics could be pretty overwhelming for any government.


Graphic by Aja Bon


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  1. New England Cocky

    Time for the Albanese LABOR government to return to the WWII strategy for accepting and assimilating immigrants and legal refugees into Australian society. The present inhumane policy must end immediately!!

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