Changing Australia’s Perceptions on Refugees

This report was commissioned to examine the behaviours and beliefs held by Australians in regards to the people identified as asylum seekers who arrive in Australia in search of humanitarian aid. The research draws attention to different newspaper commentators and evidence found by the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre that displays an overall negative and ill-informed opinions regarding asylum seekers.

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Further investigation revealed that many Australians, because of political jargon and journalistic hate-mongering, aren’t fully informed on asylum seekers, their human rights, and the expectation that Australian, as a signatory to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, will assist them when they have been forced to flee from unlawful persecution. The information regarding the negative attitudes from many Australians towards asylum seekers was used to investigate ways in which a social marketing campaign could be implemented to influence a more open-minded and humanitarian approach towards asylum seekers.

Through the use of the Social Cognitive Theory as a foundation for a social marketing campaign it is recommended that: Marketers wishing to eradicate racist and prejudicial feelings toward asylum seekers should aim at younger generations to stop racist behaviours starting from a young age. For older generations, it would be advisable that social marketing campaigners use newspapers and informative websites that dispel ill-informed rumors and mistruths about asylum seekers to make Australia a more racially tolerant society. Table of contents Introduction

Analysis of Australia’s perceptions of asylum seekers The Social Cognitive Theory The Social Marketing Planning Process Recommendations Conclusion References Introduction During the last Australian Census in August 2006, 22. 2% of the Australian population was born overseas (ABS, 2006). Even with this vastly multicultural society however, racism is prevalent and is still a major issue in Australia. Starting with the horrendous treatment of the Aboriginal people during the original settling of Australia over two centuries ago, the focus of racism in this country has now shifted to asylum seekers.

Analysis of Australia’s perceptions of asylum seekers The politically correct term for an asylum seeker is, ‘a person who has fled their own country and applies to the government of another country for protection as a refugee’ (UNHCR, 2010). They are people that for some reason, whether it be race, religion, gender or political opinion, have been ostracized in their home country and are unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted (ASRC, 2011).

As a signatory to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (ASRC, 2011), Australia is, by law, bound to protect people fleeing unlawful persecution. Many asylum seekers arrive in Australia with a variety of needs, like Iranian asylum seeker Reza, who was in need of medical and psychological care after being beaten and starved for over three months, all because he wanted his political vote to be counted fairly (ASRC, 2011), yet are still seen as illegal migrants.

With the ethical treatment of human beings at the heart of this social issue, the almost callous belief amongst Australians that they do not have a responsibility to protect these people fleeing from abuse and belittlement because they are ‘illegal immigrants’ who are, ‘coming to our country and taking advantage of us’ (ASRC Poll, 2010), is an issue that needs to be addressed through the implementation of a social marketing endeavor. The Social Cognitive Theory The concept of social marketing has been defined by Gerard Hastings (2007) as, ‘the application of marketing knowledge, concepts and techniques to enhance social ends’.

His book also cites the definition of Susan Dann (2006), who defines social marketing as ‘… the simultaneous adoption of marketing philosophy and adaptation of marketing techniques to further causes leading to changes in individual behaviours which ultimately, in the view of the campaign’s originator, will result in socially beneficial outcomes’. To this end, the goals of social marketing, as opposed to commercial marketing, is to elicit positive changes in the behaviours and opinions of the population that will positively benefit society on a local, national and international level.

When using social marketing strategy to promote behaviour change amongst a specific target market, certain predisposed theories can be used to create a starting point for developing a social marketing program (Andreasen, 1995). A theory identified by Hastings (2007) that that best fits the goals of changing Australian society’s perceptions on asylum seekers is the Social Cognitive Theory. The Social Cognitive Theory hypothesises that human behaviour is determined by a collection of internal personal factors intertwined with environmental factors that help create opinions and behaviours towards issues (Maibach and Cotton, 1995).

The Social Cognitive Theory identifies the influences of peers, family members, personal characteristics and societal norms and culture as the main determinants of a person’s opinion (Hastings, 2007, Bandura, 1986). It identifies the reciprocal relationship between personal and environmental factors as an important factor that affect a person’s beliefs, opinions and behaviours toward a certain social issue.

The concept of Social Cognitive Theory points out that, to change the perceptions and behaviour of the target market, an adjustment of how common and normal a particular behaviour is must be undertaken to influence the target market to engage in the alternative, more desirable behaviour (Bandura, 1986). The Social Marketing Planning Process Even with a theoretical approach to correcting a social issue, the development of a plan by which the desired behaviour can be achieved is essential to a social marketing campaign.

To develop a plan for a successful campaign, target marketing must be undertaken to develop correct positioning strategies and an effective marketing mix (Hastings, 2007). Recognising the importance to social marketing of a central focus on consumer orientation, the concept of a voluntary and mutually beneficial exchange (Jones, et al, 2005), the use of marketing research to identify a target market will be conducted to investigate the salient issues and important messages for the target markets (Ibid. , 2005).

A target market, as identified by Kurtz (2010), is a group of customers that a marketer has decided to aim it’s efforts towards. They are, in effect, the collection of people that need to be influenced to alter their beliefs and behaviours, and target marketing helps marketers to get a better understanding of whose behaviour needs to change and can pin down precisely how that change should be implemented (Hastings, 2007). When implementing a targeting strategy, segmentation variables must be undertaken in order to identify the main segment of society that needs to be addressed (Hastings, 2007).

The main segmentation variables that help social marketers address the right target market include demographics such as a persons gender or age (Kurtz, 2010), geographics, regarding the targets’ area of residence and their attitudes toward an issue, whether this be positive, negative or neutral (Hastings, 2007). Once a target market has been investigated and identified, a marketing mix can be developed to help create a successful social marketing campaign. Originally coined by Neil H. Borden in 1965, the marketing mix is the basic, tactical components of a marketing plan (Shullz, 1993).

More commonly known as the ‘Four Ps’, a marketing mix is comprised of certain elements such as price, product, promotion and place (Ibid. , 1993). Price refers to the, ‘costs that the target adopters have to bear and the barriers they must overcome’ (Hastings, 2007). Unlike commercial marketing, where the product is tangible, a social marketing product is, ‘the behavioural offer made to target adopters’ (Ibid. , 2007), while the place and promotion are the channels and means by which the change is encouraged and promoted to the target market (McCarthy, 1975).

For the goal of changing Australians’ perceptions of asylum seekers, the most important component of the marketing mix would be the distribution channels and promotional outlines. As identified in the Social Cognitive Theory, human behaviour is only partially under individual control, and the social environment that people live in has a remarkable impact on society’s beliefs and opinions (Alcalay and Bell, 2000). For this reason, implementing the correct promotional tool at the right time and in the right environment would be greatly beneficial for this project. Recommendations

It is recommended, then, that for this project, the campaign should be implemented both in primary schools and newspapers. Through the Social Cognitive Theory, it is known that opinions and beliefs can be formed at very young ages (Alcalay and Bell, 2000), which means targeting the next generation of Australians could help create a future where marginalisation is a thing of the past. For children, teachers could, as part of the curriculum, discuss themes such as human rights and equality, so as they can gain knowledge from a young age that, regardless of race, all people deserve to be treated equally.

At an adult level, newspapers such as The Age and the Herald Sun could produce a ‘Mythbusters’-type document, dispelling the uninformed ‘illegal immigrant’ belief held by many Australians. Furthermore, works such as the ASRC’s stage play, ‘Not Just My Story’, could be promoted in Arts and Film sections of newspapers and event guides to encourage our society to go along to these inspiring acts and get a better understanding or the humanity that asylum seekers are so desperately seeking, and need the Australian ommunity’s support to do so. Conclusion It is a disgrace that Australian politicians do not educate our society as to the real situations of people seeking refuge and instead, use them as political pawns, giving them labels that inspire discrimination that society is happy to accept. The social marketing campaign outlined above would reveal some of the aspects of the real situation and hopefully inspire a change in the perception if asylum seekers within Australian society. References Alcalay, R. , & Bell, R.

A. , (2000) Promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity Through Social Marketing: Current Practices and Recommendations. Centre for Advanced Studies in Nutrition and Social Marketing, University of California Andreasen, A. (1995), Marketing Social Change: Changing Behaviour to Promote Health, Social Development and the Environment, San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Reza flees Iran, viewed May 6, 2011, Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Myths about asylum seekers, viewed May 6, 2011,

Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Australian Society Survey, viewed May 6, 2011, Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2006), Census 2006, viewed May 11 2011, Bandura, A. , (1986) Social Foundations of Thought and Actions: A Social Cognitive Theory, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Crawford, B. , (2010) ‘Come by boat and get a Visa’, The Daily Telegraph, 31st October, Sydney Dann, S. , & Dann, S. , (2006) Insight and overview of Social Marketing, Brisbane, Queensland University Hastings, G. , (2007) Social Marketing: Why should the Devil have all the best tunes? 1st Edition, Burlington: Butterworth-Heineman Irvine, J. , (2011) ‘Numbers belie fear of asylum seekers’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14th May, Sydney Jones, Sandra C. , Iverson, D. C. , Penman, A. , & Tang, A. (2005) A practical application of theory: using social marketing theory to develop innovative and comprehensive sun protection campaigns, Wollongong: University of Wollongong Kurtz, D. , (2010). Contemporary Marketing Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. Maibach, E. , & Cotton, D. (1995) Moving people to behaviour change: a staged cognitive approach to message design. In Designing Health Messages. Approaches From Communication Theory and Public Health Practice, Newbury Park, CA: Sage McCarthy, E. J. , (1975) Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach, 5th edition, Richard D. Irwin, Inc. , Schullz, D. , Tannenbaum, S. , & Lauterborn, R. (1993) Integrated Marketing Communications, NTC Business Books, a division of NTC Publishing Group. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, viewed May 6, 2011,


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