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Cosplayers unite against “Overseas students go home” event

Diane Leow

Fri Jul 25 2014

A LOCAL Australian is organising a “Uniting against racism Cosplay lunch” in response to the Australia First Party’s “Overseas students go home” meeting planned for tomorrow afternoon. Diane Leow reports.

A cosplay lunch as a protest – it’s as awesome as it sounds. That’s exactly what’s happening tomorrow afternoon at the Tempe Hotel in New South Wales.

Patrick Hamilton, who is the editor of cosplay digital magazine Beyond Cosplay and organised the event, expressed his “shock” at the Australia First Party (AFP)’s meeting – which aims to end the Overseas Student Program – to be held at the same time as the Cosplay lunch.

“The reason for organising tomorrow’s lunch was mainly one of shame,” he told Meld.

Mr Hamilton added that he had spent time in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as an international student, where he was always welcomed by the locals.

“At least half of my current social circle are international students,” he said.

“To find out that there is a section of the community here that is actively discouraging foreign students from coming to Australia and attempting to shape policy towards preventing it from happening frankly shocks me,” Mr Hamilton added.

Mr Hamilton also hopes the event will show how local Australians “strongly disagreed with their [the AFP]’s stance”, and that the costumes will help defuse any potential confrontation.

Related story: International students and local Australians speak out against “Overseas students go home” event

While the AFP has stated that they believe international education should not be one of Australia’s largest exports, Mr Hamilton disagrees.

“Many of our tertiary institutions are considered world leaders in their particular academic field and the fact that people from all over the world travel a long way to come here and study is something we should be proud of, not fearful,” he said.

The Australia First Party's flyer advertising the "Overseas students go home" meeting. Photo: Roy Liu via Facebook

The Australia First Party’s flyer advertising the “Overseas students go home” meeting. Photo: Roy Liu via Facebook

More importantly, Mr Hamilton hopes that international students will still feel welcome in Australia in spite of the AFP’s opinion.

“I know if I was an overseas student it would be comforting to know how many people out there actually want me here. Unfortunately sometimes the vocal minority can skew perceptions and make things appear far different from the reality,” he said.

While the cosplay lunch tomorrow aims to “unite against racism”, it is also held in conjunction with children hospice Bear Cottage’s Superhero Week. A raffle will be held and all proceeds will go towards Bear Cottage, which helps care for children with life-limiting conditions.

“I just hope we can do something tomorrow that is not only interesting visually but also something that has a positive impact on the people coming to protest the AFP,” Mr Hamilton said.

“I also hope to be able to open some minds on the other side, if I or any of my more well educated friends can convince one previously doubtful local about the potential benefits of overseas students then our work here is done,” he added.

The “Uniting Against Racism Cosplay Lunch” will be held on Saturday, 26 July 2014 from 1pm at the Tempe Hotel, 735 Princes Highway, Tempe, New South Wales. For more details, please check out the official Facebook event.