The federal government has enlisted Sri Lankan cricket stars Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan to dissuade would-be refugees from taking dangerous boat journeys to Australia.

The two cricketers feature in an ad campaign, launched on Sunday, which targets ethnic communities in Australia, who the government says often encourage their families to come to Australia by boat.

"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," Sri Lankan fast bowler Malinga says in one of the ads.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said the ads also highlighted the government's no-advantage policy, which means asylum seekers who get on boats to Australia won't be resettled any faster than those who go through regular channels.

"One of the ways we can successfully send the message to contradict the lies peddled by people smugglers is to do it through the communities," Mr O'Connor told Network Ten.

The cricketers are part of a wider campaign in six languages, featuring ads in ethnic press, radio, TV and the internet.

They will target Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan and Sri Lankan communities in Australia.

 

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