Episode Four of Invisible Heroes sees host Madeleine West chat with Order of Australia Medallist, lawyer, teacher, Churchill fellowship recipient and CEO/Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Kon Karapanagiotidis.
Passionate about helping Australia’s newest and most vulnerable, Kon Karapanagiotidis spoke with Invisible Heroes across a range of topics but one that really caught our attention was how COVID-19 has highlighted the raft of issues faced by our refugee and immigrant population.
Speaking to the impact coronavirus has made on our world – restricted movements, restricted food, job insecurity, fear and anxiety over keeping safe and healthy – Kon explained that “for a moment, Australians got a little insight” into the world of a refugee.
‘What if these things [e.g. toilet paper] were finite? And your movements were restricted. And you suddenly fear for your safety,” he said to host Madeleine West.
“They did [stockpiling] what anyone would do for their family. Keep them safe.
“But when refugees do the exact same thing, they’re being villainised and demonised.”
And that’s not all. As Kon astutely points out, those people who have kept us fed, happy and well during COVID? Those people delivering our takeout and stocking our supermarket shelves? Working in our hospitals and holding the weight of the world on their shoulders? “They’re overwhelmingly people of colour.”
“Refugees power our economy,” Kon Karapanagiotidis explains, but we don’t do a good job of recognising their importance in our community nor their right to be an equal part of it.
As Kon says, “We do not diminish the rights of one group by championing the rights of another.”
You can read more about Kon Karapanagiotidis, the impact of COVID-19 on the refugee community and his own powerful story of immigration in Invisible Heroes episode four.
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