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Perception is reality: How do we form our perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers?

Settlement Services International

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm (AEST)

Perception is reality: How do we form our perceptions...

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Event Details

Perception is reality: How do we form our perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers? 

The Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion research program has published the findings of its 2013 annual national survey of public opinion on immigration and the impact of cultural diversity. The report shows that the majority of Australians support a humanitarian settlement program which assesses refugees overseas but are negative towards asylum seekers arriving by boat. The predominant view is that asylum seekers are illegal economic migrants. Claims of persecution are often ignored as a push factor. These views have increased since 2011. Recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres described as “very strange” Australia’s obsession with deterring asylum seekers who arrive by boat. “The problem is when we discuss boats and there, of course, we enter into a very, very, very dramatic thing. I think it is a kind of collective sociological and psychological question. They receive, I think, 180,000 migrants in a year. If you come to Australia in a different way, it’s fine but if they come in a boat it is like something strange happens to their minds.”

The topic of asylum seekers and the way in which they arrive in this country divides the community. The blame is often levelled at the media but we know that in reality public opinion and personal perceptions are influenced by a number of factors.

The next SSI Speakers’ Series gives us the opportunity to explore the following questions:

  • What is the influence of our social and cultural institutions, the political environment, and our legal entities to the public discourse and community views on asylum seekers?  
  • What could be the “collective sociological and psychological question” that Antonio Guterres speaks of?
  • What is the role that media plays in maintaining and/or reinforcing the polarised views that exist in Australia?
  • How has community perception come so far from the days of the Vietnamese boatpeople to today’s rejection of asylum seekers who arrive by boat?   
  • How do we foster understanding, respect, communication and social cohesion across the whole Australian population?
  • Is the real question about how we challenge racism in Australia?

Following an opening presentation by Professor Andrew Markus, author of the Mapping Social Cohesion report, the event will feature a panel discussion with an eclectic group of speakers also featuring Christine Rau, author and journalist, and Superintendent Mark Wright, Commander of Management and Leadership Development for the New South Wales Police Force, former Commander of Blacktown LA. 


We look forward to seeing you there!
Have questions about Perception is reality: How do we form our perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers?? Contact Settlement Services International

When & Where

Auditorium, SSI Head Office
Level 2
158 Liverpool Road
Ashfield , NSW 2131

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm (AEST)

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Settlement Services International

Settlement Services International (SSI) is a not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, asylum seeker assistance, accommodation, foster care, disability support and employment services in NSW. Our vision is to achieve a society that values the diversity of its people and actively provides support to ensure meaningful social and economic participation and to assist individuals and families reach their potential.

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