Mapping the Participants
<Asylum Seekers & Refugees Map 1>
The first map identifies the participants and stakeholders of the Australian refugee situation, organising the involved members into groups to clarify their intentions and agenda. In doing so, this naturally led to the discussion of their shared values and political motives amongst the divided groups, in order to understand how the ideals of these major parties and conflicted sides came to be.
Through this mapping exercise visually clarifying the stakeholders interconnected system of values and the subsequent political acts, I found that the growing and changing specifics (especially in the political landscape) could also make the (personally) organised system seem rather limited and confined, reinforcing that this is an issue that should be constantly monitored to understand its logistics properly.
<Political Proximity Map 2>
<Shared Values Map 3>
Constructing an Image Archive
1. What Refugees Carry with Them – 2015
The image above is a collection of miscellaneous items belonging to a 20 year old refugee mother. This was all she had brought from her homeland Syria:
1. Hat for the baby
2. An assortment of medication, a bottle of sterile water, and a jar of baby food
3. A small supply of napkins for diaper changes
4. A hat and a pair of socks for the baby
5. Assortment of pain relievers, sunscreen and sunburn ointment, toothpaste
6. Personal documents (including the baby’s vaccination history)
7. Wallet (with photo ID and money)
8. Cell phone charger
9. Yellow headband
Travelling with her 10 month old daughter, she had only brought along necessities for her daughter during her trip from Turkey to Europe via the dangerous waters. The above image is a prime example of how asylum seekers in desperate situations will remain undeterred by most obstacles, regardless of how unprepared they are in physical context.
2. #Bring Them Here – 2016
Taken from a recent rally, the above image portrays a demonstration of refugee supporters standing against the continuation of offshore detention centres. Through the use of #Bring Them Here, it can be seen that social network services are playing a critical role in the rallies by bringing people together to form a stronger and more uniform voice against the seemingly unresponsive government officials. It is interesting to note how the technicality of the microblogging service continues to invite audiences to access forums on a variety of SNS platforms.
3. Reclaim Australia – 2015
In contrast however there have also been the anti-refugee rallies, their arguments acting as a foundation for further fearmongering, painting the refugees as potential terrorists. The image above showcases two individuals from the Reclaim Australia protest movement in a mock niqab. The blatant anti islamic behaviour shown through their symbolic tirade captures the overall xenophobic essence of the movement, nullifying the movement’s logistics in their crude expression of racism.
4. No Visa Campaign – 2013
The irony in this campaign is that the Federal government has included a condition that serves both as a warning and as a medium of hope, coined through the term ‘If.’ The statement places forward a condition towards the people desperate to survive that in order to ‘legally’ come to Australia they must obtain a ‘visa,’ which they cannot obtain if they are currently on the run. These refugees, the people face perilous circumstances on a daily basis that to go through a procedure which would require them to remain offshore for an uncertain amount of time would only serve to expose them to more danger.
Furthermore the heavy emphasis on the phrase ‘YOU WON’T BE SETTLED IN AUSTRALIA,’ in bold capital letters poorly veils the government’s overall indifference in blocking passage for the refugees travelling via boat.
5. Alyan Kurdi – 2015
When the photos of three year old Alyan Kurdi surfaced, people were shocked to face the crude truth they had been ignoring consciously. The above image flashlights the habitually ignored fact that thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who try to make their way through the sea lose their lives. In the image, the official carrying the body of Alyan Kurdi also serves to provide a symbolic reference that it may also be too late when Australia and the rest of the world arrive at the scene.
6. Children in Nauru – 2016
Perpetuating neglect in regards to the cruel predicaments of refugees suffering from the crude conditions of the offshore detention centres has once again been brought to attention through children. When 54 kids returned to Australia from Nauru as part of the Let Them Stay campaign, it had been found that over half of them were diagnosed with a mental illness. The image of the children protesting their confinement with signs hiding their faces further emphasises their desire to deliver their message in their own words, reminding the Australia public that the refugees are ordinary people just like themselves.
7. Nauru Camp Conditions – 2015
Following the implementation of the Border Force Act, the security and surveillance on both Nauru and Manus detention camps have become severely heavy to restrict media access. The above image shows rows of tents occupied by the detainees, which at first glance offers the barest minimum function as a shelter.
8. Nauru Riot – 2013
Recorded as one of the biggest riot at Nauru, the incident involved some of the asylum seekers burning several blocks of building down, costing up to 60 million dollars in damage. The 545 refugee detainees were then moved to be housed in tents and other newly furnished accommodation. The cause of the riot had been the prolonged period of processing, and together with the possibility of being transferred over to PNG, this incident provides a clear evident in how the paranoia and the mental stress is placing an immense pressure on these refugees to the point where they are reduced to destroying their temporary home of fellow refugees and asylum seekers.
9. Manus Island Asylum Seeker Sews Lips in Protest – 2015
The above image portrays one of the refugee men who has sewn his mouth shut in protest of the prolonged detention processes and the crude treatment of the detainees. A total of 15 men had sewn their lips shut and 400 has gone on a hunger strike in fear of being resettled in the Papua New Guinea, where the detainees possess a deeply rooted fear of the locals turning against them once again. The unnerving graphic image goes on to reflect the deteriorating mental health of the trapped detainees as they are forced to resort to body mutilation in order to be heard, provoking the Australian public to raise vocal concerns more actively.
10. Stopping Boats Does Not Solve Problems
The above image shows a group refugees making it to Greece after travelling through the rough seas, their actions evidently portraying the individuals embracing their new found freedom. The sight of refugees making an effort to travel to a safe nation has been a common sight in these recent years, despite the ban and the government’s refusal to administer people who arrive through boat, prompting the speculation that turning the boats away will not leave Australia exempt from the refugee crisis. It had been found in a study that refugees will not be deterred by whatever policy the government instills because it is simply not within their interest as their first thought is to survive.
Tyler Jump 2015, ‘What’s in My Bag? What Refugees Bring When They Run for Their Lives – A Mother,’ photographed by Tyler Jump, Carryology, viewed 29 August 2016, <http://www.carryology.com/bags/whats-in-my-bag-what-refugees-bring-when-they-run-for-their-lives/>
AAP (Australian Associated Press) 2016, ‘Refugee Supporters Rally Across Australia,’ photograph, SBS news article, viewed 29 August 2016, <https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/08/27/refugee-supporters-rally-across-australia>
Cassandra Bedwell 2015, ‘Hundreds of anti-Islam demonstrators rallied in Martin Place as part of a national day of protests,’ photographed by Cassandra Bedwell, ABC News, viewed 29 August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-22/reclaim-australia-protesters-rally-at-martin-place/6962000>
Australian Government 2013, ‘No Visa,’ photograph, Mumbrella News, viewed 29 August 2016, <https://mumbrella.com.au/government-no-visa-168352>
Reuters 2015, ‘A Turkish police officer carries a young boy who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos,’ photograph, The Guardian, viewed 30 August 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/02/shocking-image-of-drowned-syrian-boy-shows-tragic-plight-of-refugees>
The Guardian 2016, ‘Protesting Detainee Children on Nauru,’ phtograph, The Guardian, viewed 30 August 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/21/almost-half-of-children-returned-from-nauru-have-mental-illness-senate-told#img-1>
Department of Immigration and Border Protection 2012, ‘Living Arrangements on Nauru,’ photograph, RT News, viewed 30 August 2016, <https://www.rt.com/news/312494-nauru-riot-wilson-australia/>
News.com 2013,’Dozens Charged After Nauru Detention Riot,’ photograph, News.com.au, viewed 30 August 2016, <http://www.news.com.au/national/dozens-charged-after-nauru-detention-riot/story-fncynjr2-1226682456715>
ABC News 2015, ‘Asylum Seeker Sews Lips Shut in Protest,’ photograph, ABC News, viewed 30 August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-14/manus-island-asylum-seekers-protest-png/6016126>
Camara 2016, ‘Refugees arrive safely to the shores of Greece after taking a dangerous passage,’ photographed by Sergei Camara, Jesus Refugee Service Australia, viewed 30 August 2016, <http://www.jrs.org.au/stopping-boats-not-solve-problem-part-1/>