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Seeking Asylum (2002)

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clip Asylum seekers at work education content clip 1, 3

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Afghan asylum seekers are good employees in the rural Victorian town of Loxton. The then Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock, argues that they are not necessarily entitled to permanent status.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows footage of asylum seekers working on a farm in Loxton, Victoria. The images are intercut by interviews with a local business manager, a fruit grower and former Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, who all discuss their views on immigrant labour and asylum seekers.

Educational value points

  • The clip presents an argument for regional employment of asylum seekers. Noel Sims, at the time of filming the managing director of Simarloo, a large fruit-production company, has said that the most logical approach to dealing with the shortage of labour on the land is not to import labour from Pacific Island nations but to utilise the labour of willing refugees. However, the current Australian Government policy excludes this option.
  • In extracts from an interview, Phillip Ruddock, former Immigration Minister in the Howard government, outlines the Australian Government’s view on employing refugees to fill gaps in the labour market. Ruddock presents a view that asylum seekers, particularly illegal asylum seekers, should not compete for jobs that could go to Australian workers.
  • According to the UNHCR, the number of people entering industrialised countries to seek asylum has fallen by 49 per cent in the five years since 2001, and it suggests that 'industrialised countries should be asking themselves whether by imposing ever tighter restrictions on asylum seekers they are not closing their doors to men, women and children fleeing persecution’ (www.unhcr.org, 2006). The number of applications by asylum seekers to Australia and New Zealand has fallen by 75 per cent since 2001. France is now the leading destination country for asylum seekers, followed by the USA and Britain.
  • The clip is from a documentary directed by Mike Piper, the founder and managing director of Piper Films and one of Australia’s most successful documentary filmmakers. In his 25-year career, Piper has developed a large body of work and has been the recipient of numerous awards. His directing credits include Paul Davies: The Big Questions and Paul Davies: More Big Questions (1995), Suburban Stripper (1998), Home of the Blizzard (1998), Heather Rose Goes to Cannes (1998), Red Crabs Crazy Ants (2000), Outback Stripper (2000), Year of the Locust (2002) and Opal Fever (2004).
  • The documentary is narrated by Jack Thompson, whose successful career in the Australian film industry has spanned more than 35 years. He has appeared in more than 70 films and was the recipient of a Special Achievement Film Critics Circle of Australia Award (1998) for his body of work and contribution to Australian cinema. In 2005, Thompson received the Living Legend Award.

This clip shows footage of asylum seekers working on a farm in Loxton, Victoria. The images are intercut by interviews with a local business manager, a fruit grower and former Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, who all discuss their views on immigrant labour and asylum seekers.

Narrator For Husseini and his countrymen, the door that has opened may be only temporary, despite their contribution to Australia’s economy.

Noel Sims, local business manager We’ve seen Chinese and we’ve seen the Cambodians and the Vietnamese, and now, of course, this is a new wave of immigrant labour that has come into the area, and I guess it’s only since they were released from the detention centres that a group of them gravitate in to Loxton and they’ve integrated into the company and into the district I think, very well, and we see that as the new wave of opportunity of rural labour who are prepared to stay in the bush and work through rural crops, as against the backpackers that have been transient through here for years but are tending to get a bit less.

Phillip Ruddock, former Minister for Immigration The fact is that people who come with low levels of skill, little in the way of English language capacity, and all they’re able to do is pick fruit, work on a farm, they’re competing for jobs in which, in the Australian community, there are lots of people with low levels of skill where people would say maybe they should get the jobs first.

Noel Sims They’re diligent guys, hard-working, and they’re basically multiskilled. When you get to know the guys individually and what they’ve been doing in Afghanistan previously, there’s a range of talent there that can be tapped into.

Phillip Ruddock The fact that in a competitive market you’ve got some people around the world who are prepared to work harder than perhaps even Australians are prepared to work, doesn’t necessarily mean that we ought to be accommodating those people, again, who had the money to pay smugglers and came without authority.

Bill Shand, fruit grower Not easy to get someone that likes the work and willing to learn, as Jawad is. Got the Afghan boys nearly two years ago now. We were getting Australians, mostly Australians, sometimes backpackers. Our experience was that they only wanted to stay around two, three, four weeks. But then you just get 'em trained up and they like to move on. A bit concerned that the government plans on sending them back to Afghanistan when their visas expire after three years. We’re not very happy about that at all. Get good workers like that, they should be allowed to stay in Australia. Very hard to get, you know, reliable pickers in this sort of industry.

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