James Ruse students bust refugee myths

Human interest: James Ruse Agricultural High School students Chris Song, 16, Jessica Li, 15, and Jin Yoo, 16, with dolls from their Project REFuGe installation. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Human interest: James Ruse Agricultural High School students Chris Song, 16, Jessica Li, 15, and Jin Yoo, 16, with dolls from their Project REFuGe installation. Picture: Gene Ramirez

James Ruse Agricultural High School students hope to bust the myths about asylum seekers and refugees that come of being sheltered from their reality with Project REFuGe.

Jessica Li, Chris Song and Jin Yoo were among 30 year 10 students at the Carlingford school who created the community campaign for youth leadership program High Resolves — with a dedicated Facebook site, Twitter feed and an installation of dolls caged in soccer nets to represent the children held in detention across Australia.

‘‘There are a lot of myths about asylum seekers and refugees and we just thought we could help bust those myths as part of our project,’’ said Jessica, who was part of the project’s marketing stream.

‘‘Other than people  mixing up asylum seekers and refugees, people also mix up terrorism and asylum seekers and think that people who are coming in are coming to steal jobs and get the best out of our economy, but it’s not the case. Zero per cent are terrorists.

‘‘It has also become such a political issue when it’s really not, it’s a humanitarian issue.’’

Chris, 16, contacted an African pastor in Redfern to hear about refugee’s experiences and other points of contact that 

would be useful for the project. 

‘‘He gave us the insight of how to approach refugees, what people had been through, and he gave us networks and  organisations to go to if we needed more,’’ he said.

‘‘Most people don’t have direct contact with or have never met a refugee. Because there’s not a lot of communication there’s a lot of misunderstanding.

‘‘All the information we get is from the media which can sometimes be misleading. I personally found a lot of myths I’d been believing in. For example there are less than one per cent of refugees in the whole world are coming to Australia but because it is such a large place we tend to think that a lot of people choose to come here.

‘‘It is actually a very, very bare percentage.’’

Jin said Tree House Theatre, which puts on an annual production with refugee children and asylum seekers as actors, and Chilout, which aims to end the detention of children, were the most helpful organisations she encountered.

The group modelled their event on an action plan provided by Chilout, and students showed support for their cause by signing forms to be given to local MPs.

‘‘We aimed to make it an eye-catching installation which would make it easier for younger generations to understand what it actually feels like to be detained by inviting them to physically go into the nets to free a doll,’’ Jin said.

The group will hold an event for the wider community in Carlingford or Parramatta in October.

Details: facebook.com/project.refuge.highresolves.

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