All posts tagged: asylum seekers

Those War-Bruised People Who Will Soon be our Neighbours

If Tony Abbott knocked on my door last Wednesday, I would have kissed him, ushered him in, poured him a glass of our best wine. A day earlier, the reception might have been different. I don’t envy your job, Mr Abbott. What a tense couple of weeks it’s been for you and your cabinet, but as one Australian voter with a deep concern for vulnerable people – even those beyond our shores – I want to say thank you for listening. As you know, less than a week ago the Australian government announced it would welcome 12,000 extra permanent refugees from the Syria conflict, with a particular focus on women, children and families from persecuted minority groups. Australia will also pay for the direct accommodation of 240,000 refugees seeking asylum in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Watching the news footage of women pushing prams along railway tracks, of fathers crying into the necks of their children, of cities leaning like ashen boxes in rubble gardens, we have wept. Their blood has run down our faces as tears. …

The Four-Word Statement That Australia Needs as its Motto

“Love Makes A Way,” their banners read. The people holding the banners are a movement of Christians fed up with the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia and are campaigning for change. Everyday people with families of their own have risked arrest to sit in the offices of politicians, staging non-violent protests to agitate for reform. They silently pray and urge compassion towards asylum seekers, lobbying for the release of the 789 children currently in detention. Why? Because they are followers of another refugee called Jesus. Because 2010 Australian of the Year professor Patrick McGorry has said that our detention centres are “factories for producing mental illness”. Because an Australian and New Zealand study of children who had been detained for more than one year revealed that 100 per cent suffered from some form of mental illness attributable to their detention. Because while others shake their heads at the complexity of the situation, shrugging ambivalent shoulders, they know that, “Love Makes A Way”. Please, Mr Abbott, can we take this four-word slogan as the battle cry of …

Whatever you do for the least of these…

The photo of that woman has not dimmed in my mind since I first saw it a week ago, a few days after another refugee boat capsized north of Christmas Island. The petite woman wore a scarf over her hair, there was a tag hanging from her wrist – probably with processing information for Customs authorities, and her face was furrowed with grief. Because strapped around her torso was a baby carrier that dominated the image due to the absence of its contents. It was empty. We were told that a baby boy, not yet one year old, was pulled from the choppy seas that day, drowned, and another eight people were missing. Such a sad day. That photo said many things to me. It showed a refugee. A person seeking asylum by illegal means. She was one of about 90 passengers from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. But strip all complications of her plight and she is simply a woman, a mother, a daughter, a friend. Like me. She’s all that and she’s alone, grieving the death of …