People use words like ‘refugee’, ‘seeking asylum’ and ‘migrant’ often, but what do these words actually mean?
Who is a migrant?
Migrants are people who move away from where they were born to live in another place. Throughout human history, migration has been common. Some migrants choose to move between countries to work, to study or to live closer to family.
However, many migrants are people who did not choose to move. Millions of people each year are forced to leave their homes because it’s not safe for them to stay.
Who is a refugee?
A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country because of war, violence, conflict or because they are being persecuted. Persecution means being treated unfairly or cruelly because of who you are, what you believe or where you’re from.
Some people can find safety in another part of their country. However, sometimes the situation is so unsafe, that people have to travel far away, to another country or even another part of the world, to find somewhere safe to live.
What does it mean to ‘seek asylum’?
People who need to leave an unsafe situation often ask another country to protect them. This is called ‘seeking asylum’.
Asylum is the protection given by a government to someone so they can live safely in a new country. An asylum seeker is someone who has asked another country to protect them and is waiting for that government to say yes or no.
Everyone has the right to seek asylum but people who seek asylum are not always treated the same way. For example, sometimes a government helps people to live in the community while they are waiting to find out if that country will off them protection, but sometimes people are made to live in big camps, or they are placed in detention.
What can you do?
A lot of asylum seekers and refugees have lived through scary situations. Sometimes people have been hurt or injured, mentally or physically, so they might need special care. It can also be difficult getting used to life in a new country, without your friends or family, where things are very different, and you might not get all the support you need.
That’s why, when people come to Australia – whether as migrants, as refugees, or as people seeking asylum - it’s so important to make them feel welcome and at home.
We all play a role in respecting each other’s human rights and helping each other feel safe and accepted in our community.
You can learn more about all the ways we are different from one another, as well as the many things we have in common by watching: