Sri Lankan cricketers, Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan have joined hands with the Australian Government in a campaign to discourage asylum seekers from taking dangerous boat journeys to Australia.
According to an official statement issued by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O'Connor recently, the campaign 'Don't be sorry' is targeted to reach ethnic communities whose members often encourage family to take the help of people smugglers to reach Australia.
Malinga and Muralitharan signed on to the campaign, targeting the Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan and Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia.
The cricketers are part of a wider campaign in six languages using ethnic press, radio, TV and online platforms to reach the target audiences throughout Australia.
Malinga and Muralitharan recently completed their Big Bash League commitments in Australia, and agreed to help the campaign because of their concerns for countrymen, women and children who were dying at sea.
"If people want to consider travelling to Australia, our message is do it the right way; don't be sorry you didn't tell you friends and family to do it the right way," Malinga said.
"In recent years, hundreds of people have lost their lives making the journey to Australia by sea. If you want to travel, do it the right way, the safe way. Don't be sorry," Muralitharan said in his message.
O'Connor said this campaign asks diaspora communities to tell their family and friends about the increased humanitarian visa places, about the family migration option, and the risks involved travelling to Australia by boat.
"We want them to tell their family and friends the law has changed, which includes the no advantage principle whereby new arrivals are liable to be transferred to Nauru or Papua New Guinea, and be processed there no sooner than had they remained abroad and registered through the UNHCR.
"The lawful way is the right way and the safest way into Australia," Mr O'Connor said.
The government will also be interacting at key ethnic community events, on social media and working directly with community leaders as part of its campaign.
First Published: February 27, 2013, 11:42 am