Giving people dignity, whoever they are

| July 23, 2015

Australia is successful at migration integration, but at the same time it is cruel towards asylum seekers. Fi Bendall’s vision for Australia is for it to be a land of plenty for peoples of all races, which will need a significant attitude change.

I have a great admiration for the country that adopted me. Australia makes multicultural integration work better than any country I know on earth.

Of course we have issues, but they are minor compared to the festering resentment in my own birth country. Just ask a London cabbie. The old country hasn’t done any of this well, from immigration to migration. I believe Australia has succeeded to be one of the most successful countries at migration integration, but at the same time it is a vicious country towards asylumseekers. I do realise that there is a fundamental dichotomy within my reasoning.

Recently at TEDx Sydney, I heard Dr Al Muderis speak, the inventor of the intuitive robotic limb. After a horrendous journey to freedom – one that makes you wonder how many other men or women could have endured – his treatment on Christmas Island should put any Australian to shame, especially in light of what he has subsequently achieved and contributed to this country. Despite this, he was determined not to listen to, or be affected by, Australian prejudice and racial abuse, and he is now part of, not only Australia’s medical elite, but the world’s medical elite.

Australia is now proud of Al Muderis, but how many others of such skill and offerings are really assessed beyond a check box and a loss of identity and dignity? Too many, I believe.

I am appalled at the UK’s mad and over the top human right laws towards immigration policy. They result in poor migration settlement and huge issues for all involved. Yet I am also equally astounded and appalled at the cruelty and lack of consideration for basic human rights Australia demonstrates towards both economic and plainly desperate asylum seekers.

My first vision for Australia is not based on any formal academic experience on asylum but purely based on my experience as a member of the public as a concerned citizen and caring member of our world. This is an issue that lives amongst us and concerns me more than that of war –  I am more concerned about the consequence of war upon the innocent. It is the bloodletting, money manifesting war of our politicians that brings these desperate people to us. Many have a lot to offer; like Al Muderis. He could have been dead by now.

My vision is simple and probably idealistic. Can we meet this issue halfway, in a pragmatic approach between a weak Europe and a too strong, cruel Australia?

Without a lot of political mumbo jumbo, without human right bills used against us, but rather by utilizing basic human nature and appealing to the good side of us – is there a way to give people dignity, whoever they are?

Let’s make all people a consideration as a person, not a number stamped into Christmas Island. As Al Muderis said, escaping from the dogs of Iraq was one thing, but being stripped of his identity for many years by the Australians was a punishment beyond all.

I feel I ought to apologise at this juncture to a set of peoples, who are still waiting to be included fully: our founding aboriginal elders. Of course, being brought up overseas I didn’t learn or hear of the stolen generation. It was only when I came to this land of plenty, did I truly understand the horror of racism. It was to the same degree as what I have witnessed in the deep south of America.

I had a view of Australia as a white female married to an Aussie when in the UK; it was all beaches and thongs. Wrong.

I brought my children here and I had a child here in Australia. From a personal reflection and vision, I want Australia to be a land of plenty for plenty of peoples of all races. When Australians do multiculture, they do it so well, world class. It’s just the horrendous asylum processing, the gaps with our Aboriginal fathers and families and our overall asylum seeker policy that needs changing, well beyond the boats. It needs a significant attitude change. While I believe we will see this with the millennium generation, I feel it is sad it will miss my generation.

My personal vision is the term “Fair Dinkum”. But instead of it being a crude, old-fashioned matey word of the past that is worthless… let’s be “uber Dinkum” and fair to all.

Fi Bendall
Fi Bendall is an expert and pioneer in digital strategy and one of Australia’s most respected leaders in the digital space. She is the Managing Director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers. Her business leads some of Australia’s most successful business strategies. With over 20 years experience in the digital sector over three continents, Fi has a depth of understanding unique to Australia. After beginning her career in the consumer electronics industry, Fi moved into developing key digital strategies in London and New York for large companies such as BBC and Virgin. Fi was strategic lead on bbc.co.uk as well as launching the BBC's first ISP, Freebeeb. During this time she built from concept to inception an international B2B gaming portal. Fi regularly authors articles on digital strategy which are published in many digital trade publications as well as providing comments to journalists on a range of digital related topics. She is a recognised and well-regarded speaker having spoken at a wide range of conferences. Fi has added Genrossity to her philanthropic portfolio as a way to innovate and bring real social impact to Australia, as well as India and the UK. Fi is also a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Australia Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Fi's expertise also lends itself to judging both the AIMIA Awards and the Smart Company awards for the last two years. See more at: http://www.bendalls.com.au/about/the-board/

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