Education and Arts

Welcoming Karen refugees to the "new world"

The Faculty was delighted to host a special lecture on refugee resettlement on 8 May in North Sydney.
Professor Susan McGrath, ACU Vice-Chancellor's Visiting Professorial Fellow and the immediate past Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Toronto and Mr Duncan MacLaren, Coordinator, ACU Refugee Program on the Thai-Burma Border, presented findings from a recent research project which examines the experience of Karen refugees who have resettled in Canada and Australia.
Professor McGrath and Mr MacLaren discussed what policies and practices best suit the settlement of Karen refugees and offered suggestions for policymakers on how to ensure the refugees have a real welcome to the "new world".
In addition to this, Mr MacLaren discussed how recent political reforms in Burma are affecting camp-based refugees and gave an update on the ACU Refugee Program on the Thai-Burma border, a program which offers free tertiary education to Burmese who have fled persecution in their homeland.
Speaking at the lecture, Professor McGrath said: "It is a challenging time for refugees globally and the Karen refugees in Australia and Canada have given us important insights into the refugee resettlement experience and the policy and practice changes that could improve that experience."
Mr MacLaren said: "While Western governments go hell for leather in trying to put in their business people to make money out of the 'new' Burma, we found that neither the refugees still in the camps nor the resettled refugees trusted the Burmese government and military. It is perhaps time for Western governments to listen to what those who have suffered under the military junta are saying."
Faculty staff were joined at the lecture by colleagues from Caritas Australia, the Jesuit Refugee Service and members of the Australian Karen Association.
Professor McGrath and Mr MacLaren were also interviewed about their research for John Cleary's Sunday Nights program on ABC Radio.