Australians apologise to asylum seekers on new website


A Melbourne man has created a website featuring messages of apology to asylum seekers.

A Melbourne man has developed a website featuring individual messages of apology from Australians angry at the government's treatment of asylum seekers.

Ryan Sheales, a media strategist, told SBS he launched the website last Friday and had received nearly 300 submissions since then.

The website features photographs of people holding messages of apology to asylum seekers, many of which end in the hashtag #notinmyname.

Mr Sheales said he had created the website to "take the heat out" of the asylum debate and redirect focus to the people and families involved.

"I wanted the site to be a place where people can come and - from a personal standpoint - say 'sorry' to people for the way they are being treated," he said.

Mr Sheales said he has received submissions from people in a number of countries outside Australia and had identified many common themes in their messages.

"There are a number of submissions from people saying either they, or someone in family, are refugees or migrants, and making a comparison between how they were treated and how people are being treated now," he said.

Mr Sheales said the site was about "humanity and compassion" and was not politically motivated.

"It's not about arguing against one political party's policy or any particular politician. It's not about legal definitions or grandstanding.

"It's where everyday Australians embarrassed about how asylum seekers are treated in their name, can say 'sorry'."

Mr Sheales said he had been pleasantly surprised at the response to his website.

"When the site started I didn't know if it would be a success or not, so to have a lot of people feel the same way, and for the site to resonate in that way, is heart-warming," he said.

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