Media Musings Blog Archive Seeking asylum and a boob job On Saturday, The Australian ran a piece titled 'Seeking asylum and breast job'.
The story focused on the alleged requests by a few asylum seekers for cosmetic surgery during medical examinations and treatment. I say alleged because in the 600 word article I could not spot one direct quote from an identified source to confirm these requests were actually made. It's pretty disappointing to see an article like the one printed in The Oz, which trivialises the struggle of people who flee their homelands, not for cosmetic surgery, but for asylum. The article was based on an interview with Ling Yoong, former director of medical health services for Australia's offshore processing network. The original interview was published in industry journal the Medical Observer. The quote used by The Oz is: give (the asylum seekers) the health services louis vuitton trunks and bags bracelet they need; we do not give them the services they want. rest of the article is based on quotes from an unnamed medical source and an unidentified asylum seeker advocate, as well as some comments from pollies. I can't find the original article the story is based on to verify or contextualise Yoong's comments. The feature was published in the Medical Observer this week, so I'm guessing the story hasn't been posted online yet. I managed to find some other pieces by Yoong published on the Medical Observer's website, however. They are gripping first hand accounts of the experience of a medical professional battling tough conditions and traumatised patients in refugee camps on Manus Island and Nauru. Before stumbling upon The Oz article, I was struck by an ABC report on the recovery effort of the African migrant boat, which sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Vision of rows of coffins, which contained the bodies of the 181 asylum seekers that had been recovered, demonstrated the human cost in a two second grab of footage. I was reminded of the extent to which Australian coverage of boat arrivals and wrecks had dehumanised the topic of asylum seekers the Italian Government must have allowed media access to the makeshift morgue where the coffins lay. Having said that, I can't discount the many stories published by Fairfax on the experience of refugees living in Australia. But telling the stories of asylum seekers in detention is near impossible thanks to DIAC's closed ranks. I hope that our government and our media will one day tell these stories responsibly in context and without agenda or sensationalism. And that Australians will want to read them. I can believe the Oz would public something so trivial and sensationalist! I totally agree with your comments regarding journalists responsibility to report responsible story. Italy is a good example, it was also interesting that the country declared a day of mourning for that tragedy. Their government, despite its obvious issues, seems to have a better understanding of human rights on this issue than Australia. The restrictions on journalists in Australia seem strange and secretive, someone has to tell these stories. Yoong article is fantastic, it a shame something like this doesn make it to mainstream publications, so more people can read it. Journalism should be a way of getting the truth of a matter out to the public. There are two major obstacles blocking the public understanding of the issue. One, the Australian Government policies regarding reporting of the individuals involved. And two, the general level of interest of the public. These issues feed into each other which is likely why the government has these policies to begin with. The Australian Swingers Contacts seems to be putting its network forth as some kind of a solution. Perhaps this could be a way of circumventing both of these obstacles. 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