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Nine out of 10 young Australians want to do more to help refugees

Australian students believe more can be done to help refugees Source: SBS

At least nine out of ten young Australians believe more can be done to help refugees, and one in five believe they themselves could one day be displaced.

This year, World Vision Australia is focusing on the plight of refugees for its 40 hour famine and asking participants to walk in the shoes of the 68 million displaced persons across the globe.

In 1980s East Timor, Alden Vong says his parents and their families were living a life of oppression.

"My parents, they came to Australia as refugees when Indonesia invaded East Timor. My mum always told me of how – she was pretty young, less than 10 years old – and she had to help her parents do all the cooking, look after her siblings and also do business with the Indonesian soldiers when they came through the village," said Alden.

At 17, Alden is about the same age his parents were when they arrived in Australia and thrived.

He wants to do what he can to help the newest generation of refugees.

"When you have that thing to remind you of why you’re living life the way you are, then it kind of acts as motivation,” said Alden.

World Vision Australia has surveyed more than a thousand 11-to-19 year-old Australians to gauge their views on refugees.

They posed questions such as whether they could ever become displaced.

One in five said it’s a possibility.

Coming from what's sometimes called the ‘selfie’ generation, World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello says the results surprise him.

"We’re always told the millennials are the 'me' generation, and they’re in a bubble and they only think about themselves. Well, this survey says, actually, they are taking in the refugee crisis," Tim said.

Alden’s friend, Nathaniel Diong saw this an opportunity to broaden his knowledge.

"Instead of counting down the seconds to recess, I’m sort of counting how many people were suffering in the world. So I guess I’ve always had a call to action and always been passionate about making a change,” Nathaniel said.

17 year old David Chen agrees that sometimes the community can become de-sensitised to the plight of refugees.

“We hear so many of those stories, that sometimes we forget that really, behind those stories is a people, a dream, and someone who really wants to succeed, just like all of us here in a more privileged background,” said David.

As the students prepare for their combined 60 kilometres, Alden Vong hopes others will also walk a day in the shoes of a refugee.

“[There are] 68.5 million refugees around the world just under half of them are under 18 years old. And it’s shocking so many people have to go through a lot of horrors of civil war and be displaced from their homes, and somehow they still have to cling on to that bit of hope."




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