Call for compassion threatens Dutton

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Peter Dutton’s Dickson seat hangs in the balance and his controversial opinions regarding Australia’s multicultural community may knock him off his 18-year perch.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Queensland community organiser Kagi Kowa said public compassion for Australia’s foreign population was growing and she hoped the election would deliver “true leadership” in Dickson.

“We need leaders who show fairness and compassion in their leadership, and I truly hope that is what people think of when they are going to the ballot,” Ms Kowa said.

Ms Kowa said rather than suppressing those different to the typical Australian, all people should be supported within the community.

According to the Australian Parliamentary Library, there has been a steady increase in Australia’s foreign population, making it a hot political topic.

The Pine Rivers multicultural women’s morning tea, located in Dickson, is a place for immigrants, refugees and multicultural women to laugh, share stories and provide support to one another.

But the lack of education provided to them upon arriving in Australia was a common discussion point.

Sonia Cerruto, a regular morning tea attendee, was born and raised in Fiji, where she missed out on a formal education, entering the workforce instead.

“We didn’t have any money to go to school, even primary school, it was two dollars a term, but the two dollars was for the food not the education,” Ms Cerruto said.

However, after political uproar drove Ms Cerruto out of Fiji, she eventually found a home in Australia.

She was impressed with the high level of education provided and was overjoyed that her daughters would benefit.

“When my girls finished uni I got so excited because that’s what I wanted and that’s something I didn’t have and couldn’t have,” Ms Cerruto said.

Ms Cerruto would love the same opportunity to “be something” but said her lack of English and education limited her.

“I struggle [speaking English], my daughters still tell me ‘mum we can’t understand you’, so sometimes I just don’t want to say anything,” Ms Cerruto said.

Ms Kowa agrees there are “barriers to employment” in Australia impacting many people in similar circumstances.

“As time goes by and people feel more settled in, the support they need starts to change to more long-term supports such as access to education, employment and equal opportunities,” Ms Kowa said.

However, Ms Kowa said Mr Dutton was part of the problem as many of his policies tended to “alienate” groups of people.

Mr Dutton said on Sky News that many of the immigrant population would not be literate or numerate, they would take Australian jobs, “languish in unemployment queues”, and there would be a huge cost.

“There’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario,” he said on Sky News.

Despite Mr Dutton’s views, Ms Kowa said providing the multicultural community with education would provide numerous benefits.

“This [providing resources] will not only help them build a better life but will also make them feel like they belong to the community and are contributing to make it a better place,” Ms Kowa said.

“Unfortunately, it looks like Mr Dutton’s views have not changed.”

Mr Dutton, with his conservative policies, holds Dickson by a 1.7 per cent margin.

In just over a month, voters will decide if he keeps his position as Dickson’s MP.