Andrew Hewett, CEO of Oxfam Australia: Asylum Seekers and Refugees.   Australia’s responsibilities and global instability”   Wednesday 5 September2012

Chair, Linda Briskman
Andrew Hewett gave an incisive address about the failings of public policy towards asylum seekers in Australia. Attached is the formal text, but the audio in which he added extra and the audience added more is well worth the time.  The key point he made that rather than looking at the important question of how to protect asylum seekers, the policy seemed to be to keep them away from us.  While the text is below, the live event is well worth listening to.
Andrew wrote last year “When you ask the wrong questions, you get the wrong answers and unfortunately politicians on both sides have persisted along this path. Now is the time to grapple with the complex causes of refugee flight and how these could be tackled. This requires us to ask the right question: How can we help refugees women, men and kids who face such grave risk of harm to be safe?”
In his speech to AJDS he added, “And if one was crafting an Australian approach to asylum seeker and refugee flows, it’s patently the  case that one wouldn’t start from here”.”
But as well, questions and comments from the audience were very incisive about not only public policy failings in Australia, but a regrettable streak of racism in the Jewish community, perhaps due to a lack of healing and resolution over holocaust trauma and displacement of anxiety over the situation between Israelis and Palestinians.
Thanks very much to Andrew for his valuable comments and time. There are two mp3s.  Play directly or right click and save.   MP3- 1    MP3-2
PDF of his talk
has been active in supporting the revived “Jews for Refugees” group.  If you are interested in joining or staying up to date with their activities, see the FB page at  or email jewsforrefugees AT gmail.com to subscribe to their list.
Also Supported by the Jewish Labor Bund.
and Wild Dingo Press.