by Caris Horton
Most of us have now seen the images of the Syrian refugees trying to cross the Hungarian border as they plead for freedom and help.
I’m also sure that most of us have seen the articles documenting the numerous refugee boats that have capsized off our shores including the infamous and heart-breaking photo of a young refugee washed up on a Turkish beach.
Often we see these images and stories online, on TV and in print but we may feel that we are powerless to help or to make any real changes.
Fortunately, there are some practical ways we can all help with the current refugee crisis, regardless of budget or time, so here are some of the most obvious but perhaps best ways to do so.
Donating is an easy way to give money quickly in times of emergency as a lot of charities have monthly and one-off donation models so you can give according to your finances at the time.
Charity donations over $2 are always tax deductible too for those who haven’t got around to putting their taxes in yet.
Often people worry how much of their donation will actually go towards the cause, which is a fair concern, so I’ve compiled a handy chart here so you can tell just what percentage of your money is going directly to the cause. The remaining percentage of donations usually goes to further fundraising efforts and towards administration costs, according to the charities’ websites.
Here are just a few fantastic charities working to help refugees in Syria and all over the world.
This charity works within Syria and in countries that host Syrian refugees, like Jordan and Egypt, to provide support to children and their families.
Save the Children also work to help children who are faced with poverty and families that are badly affected by natural disasters.
The UN Refugee Agency’s branch in Australia currently have appeals going the emergency refugee situations in Syria and elsewhere where money donated will go towards things like medicine, clothing, shelter and education for parents and children to give them new start and help with the emergency assistance they need.
This organisation works to send out medical assistance to many third world countries, like Jordan, Cambodia and Afghanistan.
They are currently working in Syria to start up health facilities in refugee transit camps and run mobile clinics across the Syrian border.
This centre, based in Footscray, offers multiple services for newly arrived refugees including help with accessing legal aid and health services.
You can donate to keep the centre running or you can buy much needed groceries online and get it delivered to them which goes towards the Foodbank that the centre provides for refugees who have just arrived and need a helping hand.
If you have more time on your hands but your budget is tight then volunteering is still a great option.
Volunteering can also be great thing to put on your resume if you don’t have any work experience in your field.
You can also tailor the volunteering role you choose to your expertise. For example, the Red Cross is currently looking for an English Tutor Volunteer to teach english to newly arrived migrants which can be a very rewarding experience if you are studying to become a teacher.
Other organisations like The Humanitarian Group work on giving legal aid and getting visa protection for refugees as well as working to reunite families, which is perfect for the aspiring human rights lawyer.
3. SIGN PETITIONS
A lot of people may think signing a petition won’t amount to anything but, if enough people can get together, it can produce real change. Signing a petition only takes a few seconds too.
From getting domestic violence education into NSW schools to saving an autistic boy from being deported, petitions can at least help influence government decisions.
Various petitions for refugee issues exist including Oxfam’s petition to get our intake of refugees up from 12,000 to 30,000 as well as a call to increase peace agreements efforts to end the Syrian conflict.
GetUp’s plea to shut down the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres is another petition that may stir our government to make changes to our current asylum seeker policies.
Websites like GetUp and Change.org always have great petitions for every type of social issue and, in the case of refugee issues, they can hopefully make politicians sit up and pay attention if enough people sign.
4. TAKE ACTION LOCALLY
For something closer to home, there are plenty of groups in Perth that are dedicated to improving the lives of refugees and fighting for policy changes.
The Refugee Rights Action Network WA is a group dedicated to bringing attention to the issues with mandatory detention. From organising bus trips to detention centers to sending multi-lingual dictionaries to incarcerated aslyum seekers, this group is a great option if you really want to get involved and create change. The group meets every Monday at 6:30pm at the Activist Center in the CBD so swing by if you are interested.
There is also an Amnesty International Group on campus too if you would like to join in with like-minded students to discuss social justice issues and campaign for change. Amnesty International also urge our federal government to change their increasingly negative social issue policies with rallying, letter-writing campaigns, and petitions.
If you want to stay informed, the Refugee Council of Australia also has great fact sheets on refugee issues as well as research papers on asylum seeker policies and federal budget summaries focusing on refugee-related spending.
No matter what you decide to do, any action will help.