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Australia's African refugee intake policy and multicultural footy

  • Thursday, October 04 2007 @ 12:13 pm ACST
  • Contributed by: Sean Finlayson
  • Views: 2,435
General News

From a world footy perspective, it might be disappointing to hear that, as reported in the Herald Sun, the Federal Government has announced a reduction in the number of African refugees coming to Australia. Although there is a difference between growing the game internationally and growing the game amongst migrants to Australia, there are connections.

There have been concerns in small sections of the Australian community, particularly over the Sudanese people's ability to integrate into Australian culture, with difficulties particularly in learning English and some incidents of crime involving refugees increasingly being reported in the media. However programs, particularly in Aussie Rules development, were just beginning to help alleviate this situation. One example, is the recent WFN story Sports Without Borders helping Sudanese kids kick goals.

Melbourne has more Sudanese migrants than any other Australian city (over 7,000 of them), and some were beginning to rise through the ranks of local footy, particularly the juniors. WFN has also run stories on Somalian refugees in Melbourne taking up our game, and of course there is the story of Ethiopian refugee Goaner Tutlan.

The AFL has on more than one occasion suggested that Sudanese migrants could become a source of future stars at the top level. Australian basketball has also shown an interest with taller African refugee children being scouted by professional basketball clubs, also making them highly sought after key position and ruck prospects in the AFL. The AFL, as the Aussie Rules world governing body even hinted at the possibility that refugee communities be represented at the next International Cup, which could substantially contribute to the tournament's international flavour.

Perhaps the Australian Government should consider putting more money into programs like the highly successful (and award winning) Australian Football League Multicultural Program which is funded by the Department of Victorian Communities and has a particular focus on these communities.