Opinion | Some unexpected feedback: or how to listen before you judge

Opinion | Some unexpected feedback: or how to listen before you judge

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As a city councillor and writer for our local newspaper, I often receive feedback on my articles. Recently, two particular pieces—“Our Rising Security Concerns” (May 16, 2024) and “ANZAC Day Reflections” (May 2, 2024)—sparked significant reactions.

While some accused me of being racist, one Muslim community member invited me to discuss my views at Dome in Gosnells.

Preparing for a potentially heated debate, I was ready for anything as I approached the meeting.

Upon arrival, I saw my host seated with three other men, and I braced myself for confrontation.

To my surprise, they began by thanking me for raising concerns about immigration and security.

They explained that while their religion teaches them to welcome fellow Muslims, the sheer number of newcomers is overwhelming their community’s capacity to support them.

They shared my concerns about individuals who preach hatred and extremism, expressing bewilderment at the government’s tolerance of such threats.

During our conversation, we discussed various topics, including our families and community concerns.

I admitted my fears of Australia becoming like Iran, where a once liberal society has transformed drastically under strict religious rule.

They assured me that many in their community do not wish for such an outcome and emphasised the need for the government to act against those promoting violence.

This meeting was enlightening and proved that open dialogue can bridge divides.

We ended our discussion with mutual respect and understanding, reminding me not to judge before truly listening.

Reflecting on this experience, I’m reminded of the importance of addressing immigration and security concerns without painting all immigrants with the same brush.

It’s crucial to differentiate between those who contribute positively to our society and those who pose a genuine threat.

Stricter vetting processes and policies supporting local employers who sponsor immigrants are essential steps toward a balanced approach.

As we navigate these complex issues, let’s strive for a society where all Australians—new and old—can thrive.

Just as our ANZAC heroes fought for a united nation, we must work together to uphold the values of inclusivity and security for everyone.

Glenn Dewhurst is a City of Gosnells councillor.