Published On: Mon, Jun 11th, 2012

Rain can’t dampen a love for freedom for asylum seekers in Australia

by Gemma Jones | The Daily Telegraph | June 12, 2012

Source: The Daily Telegraph

AFTER arriving in Australia on a leaky boat, these two asylum seekers were given good food and accommodation at a Queensland detention centre – but nothing compares to the taste of freedom.

That was their opinion yesterday after enjoying their first week in a western Sydney family’s house as part of the government’s homestay plan.

The 22-year-old and 26-year-old Hazara men from Afghanistan are among the first to be housed by Australian families enlisted by the government as it grapples with its asylum seeker crisis.

Yesterday the men were taken on a driving tour of Sydney landmarks with their host family, including Michelle and her three foster children, who arrived as unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan.

Over the weekend they celebrated one of the foster boy’s 18th birthday with a party at the family’s Western Sydney home.

One of the asylum seekers, who cannot be identified, said he had suffered depression due to experiences in his home country and had struggled with life inside a detention centre in far north Queensland.

“It is good because we were in detention and we have experienced freedom so it is very exciting,” the 22-year-old said.

“In detention we had good accommodation, good food but (no) freedom. In detention we had mental and health problems. We were very depressed.”

Two Afghani asylum seekers seeing the sights of Sydney. They are on temporary bridging visas / Pic: Craig Greenhill Source: The Daily Telegraph

Both men arrived on the same boat six months ago and claimed they were unable to carry their own documentation out of Afghanistan because they are Hazaras and were never issued with birth certificates.

Under a Coalition government they would have to prove they had not destroyed their documentation or face a presumption against refugee status.

The asylum seekers released into homes through the Australian Homestay Network have advanced in claims for protection and the asylum seeker said he looked forward to staying in Australia.

“We are looking for a safe place. We are looking for a place where we can live freely (and) can express our religion and our ethnicity,” he said.

Michelle said she enjoyed having the asylum seekers. She receives $280 a week to house them but said she was not doing it for money.

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