Culture

This Ad Campaign Will Show People The True Faces Of Refugees Who Come By Boat

It's a lot harder to dismiss "boat people" when they have names and faces.

One of the most difficult aspects of the refugee debate is how entrenched people’s perceptions about so-called “boat people” are. Polls consistently show that Australians favour harsh deterrence measures against asylum seekers who come by boat, and an almost-total media blackout on Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island severely undermines the ability of refugees to counter popular misconceptions –that they are potential terrorists, welfare cheats, “queue jumpers” and opportunists — routinely peddled by politicians and much of the press.

Denied regular media access to detention centres, asylum seekers and their advocates are getting creative in their efforts to change people’s idea of what a “boat person” looks like. A new campaign is hoping to overturn some of those prejudices by showcasing some real-life examples of Australians who came by boat. Faces of the campaign include world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Munjed al Muderis, Vietnamese-born dentist and yoga teacher Fern White, and non-profit worker Najeeba Wazefadost — all of whom came to Australia by boat.

The campaign’s aiming to raise upwards of $55,000 to install posters on bus stops and in prominent public places across the country. Coordinator Blanka Dudas is herself a former refugee from Yugoslavia, and is encouraging other Australians who came by boat to get in touch if they’d like to be involved.

Check out the campaign here.