A Better Life: Refugees, asylum seekers and our response
Published: Monday 28th July 2014
A new photography exhibition at ACU’s Strathfield campus will showcase the University’s work with refugees on the Thai-Burma border.
ACU photographer Tristan Velasco spent several weeks in the refugee camps on the Thai Burma border, documenting the lives of inhabitants and students in the program. The situation of refugees, forced migrants and internally displaced people is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges facing humankind. Burma's authoritarian state has produced the world's longest running civil war, and Burmese fleeing the regime have been sectioned into nine camps scattered along the border with Thailand.
In the ACU Thai-Burma Program, the University partners with universities from the USA and Canada to provide tertiary education to young refugees in the camps. The program offers a course taught through a combination of online and face-to-face lessons. Graduates of the program resettled in Australia, Canada or the USA have been accepted into university courses on the basis of their ACU qualification.
For the students, the program has not just meant jobs or a pathway to degree courses, but transformation. Through the critical thinking that academic work demands, they have found a belief in peaceful, political negotiation to end the violence in their homeland.
The exhibition also features an installation by the Australian Coalition to End the Immigration Detention of Children, titled 'Free the Children'. The installation is interactive, allowing viewers to bring a symbol of a child detainee out of confinement, and send a message to our representatives.
2014 celebrates the 100th Anniversary of statements from the Vatican about migration as well as the National Launch of the Australian Catholic Bishops kit on migration and refugees. Both of these important milestones will be recognized at the exhibition’s opening.