Shared: what happened last Thursday – a hopeful take

The below text is from an email that I was sent last week on Friday. Hurrah for the development of politics of conscience (at long bloody last). Let’s keep it going.

———————————————–

This is a long email, but I’ve just returned from Parliament House, and I wanted to let you know exactly what happened.

Yesterday, Scott Morrison’s Government played games in the Senate and then fled the House of Representatives – leaving their entire policy agenda behind – to avoid a bill that would compel Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to transfer children, their families and anyone else in need of medical assessment and treatment from Manus and Nauru to care in Australia. 

But the Morrison Government’s cowardice didn’t stop Senators from an extraordinary coalition of conscience. They voted hour after hour after hour, up against a filibuster from the Government, Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi on the final day of sitting for 2018, to push the #KidsOffNauru legislation through the Senate. 

But the final Senate vote came one hour too late. By the time it had passed, the Morrison Government had already shut down the House of Representatives and literally fled the building. 

It was a bittersweet moment. But this legislation will still be waiting when the House of Representatives returns in February – and it will pass. When it does, within 48 hours of it becoming law, we will see the kids and their families off Nauru, and emergency flights of critically ill men and women from offshore detention touch down in Australia. 

But Clare, to come within one hour of passing a bill that would have brought children and critically ill people from Manus and Nauru to Australia BY SUNDAY was absolutely heartbreaking. 

Newly elected Dr Kerryn Phelps, who drove this Bill through in the first fortnight of her Federal career, slumped back in her chair as the Bill passed the Senate but the lights were already off in the House. 

These same scenes repeated themselves as Senators left the chamber. Senator Tim Storer who tabled the Bill, having worked night after night to finely balance competing considerations across the political spectrum, had his head buried in his hands. 

But the thing I most wanted to tell you, Clare, was that in that same moment that our politics most failed us, the incredible potential of politics and our democracy was also at its most evident. 

The extraordinary events of yesterday happened because politicians of principle genuinely listened to the people-powered movement in Australia, and the voices of those still detained. Politicians who knew that the treatment of those on Manus and Nauru isn’t about left and right – it’s about right and wrong. 

I watched the Australian Greens Senators huddle anxiously together outside the Chamber door (with Adam Bandt actually running across from the House of Representatives), trying to find a way through the Government’s filibuster. They knew they were just inches away from saving the lives of those in offshore detention, whose rights they had defended for decades. 

Greens Immigration spokesperson Senator Nick McKim stood shoulder to shoulder with Senator Storer to table the bill, working tirelessly with people from across the political spectrum hoping for a win especially for the oft-forgotten adults. As, McKim exited the Senate when it was all done, close to tears, all he could say was:“How can I tell those people in the camps they have to wait another three months for treatment, when they needed it yesterday.” 

I watched the women of the House of Representatives crossbench, Rebekha Sharkie, former Liberal MP Julia Banks, and Cathy McGowan embrace Dr Phelps and her Bill. They also stood in their own right to argue in different ways for a sensible solution to the medical crisis that has enveloped the children, and the adults in offshore detention. 

I watched Senator Derryn Hinch forced to battle Twitter trolls from his Senate seat, remaining emphatic that he stood with all kids, including those detained offshore – even as the Morrison Government cynically dangled legislation he had long fought for to entice him over to their side. He sat alongside Centre Alliance Senators Griff and Patrick, both weary and indignant at the antics of the Government playing with Parliamentary procedure to avoid following the clear desireof the Australian public to get kids off Nauru, and follow doctors’ orders with the women and men. 

There stood Andrew Wilkie and his staff, biting their nails as they watched the Senate filibuster and then the House of Representatives clock. Wilkie had put the initial #KidsOffNauru Bill forward in the House months ago, but had graciously worked with everyone else to help draft a new Bill and find a new pathway through the Senate to ensure it become law. He stood repeatedly in the House this week, as he has done for years and years, arguing for justice for the people detained in our name. 

And then, after so long of being ripped apart on this issue, I watched the Australian Labor Party. Penny Wong, on her feet for hours at the table in the Senate, stabbing her finger in righteous fury at the Government’s dirty tricks. Their Senators determined to hold, in the face of fear-mongering Government speeches about boats and borders, to the fundamental tenet that sick people should never be denied treatment. When Opposition Leader Bill Shorten stood before snapping cameras and said kids should be off Nauru late last night, he stood for the work of a united Labor caucus led by Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann, which went back and forth for months between lawyers, doctors and internal champions – intent on finding the way through, even from Opposition, to finally address the medical crisis offshore. 

What I saw yesterday was a coalition of conscience emerge. And it renewed my faith in the promise of our politics. 

I watched this coalition of conscience come together and come within one hour of delivering a historic defeat to a cruel Government which has let 12 people die on their watch in offshore detention. 

I saw politicians put aside party and ego. I saw them work together the way we always want them to. I saw them sneaking BBQ Shapes just off the Senate floor, because the filibuster meant they hadn’t eaten since 7am. I saw their faces crumple as they realised children would be spending another 3 months in detention, because the Government had thwarted them on timing. I saw them shake off the despair and go out with a grim smile for the media. And I saw them promise, on national television, that they would be waiting, when the Parliament returns on the 13th of February, to finally deliver care and safety to those offshore, and pass this Bill before the House so it becomes law. 

That’s why I wanted to email you right now even though the words aren’t polished and I’m still in my pyjamas. Because I want you to know that yesterday showed us that this fight is still worth it. I want you to know that every email you send, every phonecall you make, every protest you attend – it’s all worth it. 

Because while politics created the cruel offshore detention regime, it can also break it. 

Stay tuned for next steps. Because this movement won’t just sit waiting for February. We’re going to keep fighting, every step of the way alongside those people detained in our name. And now we know that we will win. 

Yours in hope, 

Shen and Renaire for the GetUp! team 

Ps. The Government’s going to come for this coalition of conscience before February. With Dutton’s usual lies about boats and brown men and what-not. We must be ready to fight back. 

A political rhyme

I thought my first post back after my accidental hiatus /

Would be full of funny musings, an update on my life’s status./

(Free from uni, qualified at last, job hunting and house-move planning set my time steadfast.) /

Or, perchance, a recipe post, I’m overdue for a few of those; /

Plenty of good meals I’ve made in the past two months or so.

Instead, today, I share a rant of politics and power, /

And how a scummy gov’ment contrived to shorten the hour/

And day of parliamentary dismissal,/

To ensure they wouldn’t lose a vote on the floor; no it’s not apocryphal.

Bad enough the week before, they ignored the message sent /

By striking students out to plead and shake some common sense /

Into the minds of climate-change-denying politicians, who are proving remarkably dense. /

This week’s fight was for a different cause, another long-fought war;/

Of words and desperate actions to free those forbidden from our shore; /

Their only “crime” to have fled for their lives, to a safer haven/

Through a dangerous voyage not lightly undertaken. /

A passage that’s NOT illegal, despite what some may say,/

All they want is hope, and we’ve taken it away. /

For six long years, they’ve languished in island hellholes;/ it’s made many sick, with malaise physical and of the souls. /

They’ve bled and struggled and DIED there, out of sight and mind, /

Of the Aussie gov’ment, who are wilfully blind, /

To the cries of anguish from detainees and friends; /

Willing to #bringthemhere and let their trauma end.

And what about the kids? The nation began to ask. #kidsout became the rallying cry; was that too much to ask?

Momentum slowly built, then took off with a rumble; /

When a new independent stood and declared her trouble,/

With the current practices, and made her stand clear. /

“Support my Bill, it’s past time now to bring these people cheer/

And the medical attention that they so sorely need. /

The gauntlet thrown, the players aligned themselves one-by-one; /

Amendments saw Labor at LAST stand up strong. /

For a moment, we felt the gasp, of fresh clear air, /

Heralding a new way forward, the day was nearly here. /

But before we could release our sighs of relief, /

The government went and slammed the door, a thief!/

They knew they’d lose a vote but fought it all the same; /

Continuing their endless turn of passing the blame. /

They trotted out the tired lines of “stopping the boats” and “protecting borders”, /

Ignoring how we all know how they’re false orders,/

Designed to give a reason to an unreasonable crime,/

Of locking up the innocent, for fear and power sublime. /

Yet they call themselves Christian? That I don’t understand, /

When the foundation family once sought refuge in other lands. /

Today’s government has cognitive dissonance of the highest order, /

Drunk on power and influence, and an imaginary world order.

A fact they forget, or they’re choosing to ignore,/

Next year is an election year when we can settle the score. /

They’re on the nose already and can only delay so much,/

When their time’s up, it’s up, regardless of what they do to try to keep in touch, /

Their fake promises and tax cuts will be seen for what they are,

And if they try the racist dog-whistle, well it won’t get far – /

They tried it at a local level last month and it was found quite bizarre./

So angry people discouraged by the latest conservative gasp, /

Let’s follow the State example and chuck them out on their arse!

Critical situation on Manus Island

I shared the following on my personal Facebook page on Tuesday.

“An urgent message from #Manus (Please share widely):

Please, if you are reading this, tell the Australian Government that we need urgent medical care for our Brother Abdi. 

Abdi, a Somalian man, was playing soccer on the ELRTC soccer field at 6:00pm on Friday, 27/7/18, when he collided with another man. Nothing has been done to help fix Abdi’s broken knee because there are not proper medical facilities to treat us. He can’t sleep, can’t sit well, and no staff care about him. 

Because the accident was late & the hospital has no doctor at night and because the PIH clinic is closed then too, he could not have any treatment on Friday night.
PIH clinic in the Lorengau camp is closed on the weekend. So, on Saturday, he went to Lorengau Hospital. He waited in the waiting area for 4 hours and nobody could give him any treatment. Abdi then asked for painkillers and they gave him an injection and they told him to come back on Monday for an X-ray. They said nothing can be done until Monday and that he should go back to camp. 

He came back to East Lorengau camp. He was in bad pain all night Saturday, all day Sunday and now still in terrible pain and cannot sleep.
Nothing happened to help him on Sunday.

On Monday (30/7/18) PIH said he must have an X-ray at the hospital and come back and see PIH doctor. PIH they told him, “We can’t help you until we get X-ray. Your problem is serious, but we can’t help u without X-ray” 

Abdi did go again to the hospital to ask for an X-ray but the hospital told him the X-ray machine is broken. There is nobody on Manus to fix the machine. He went back to camp, and his leg is in very terrible pain and this travelling is making it much worse. Abdi was really suffering by the time he arrived at the PIH clinic in the camp.

The doctor at PIH told him that there is nothing he can do for Abdi unless he has an X-ray. He told the doctor, “I will stay here until you solve the problem.” The doctor told the Security Guard to force Abdi to leave and to lock the door and to not let Abdi in. After guard used forceful words, Abdi went outside and the guard locked him out. 

Abdi cannot get any treatment from PIH until he has an X-ray. He cannot have an X-ray because X-ray machine is broken. There is nobody to fix the X-ray machine on Manus. We think maybe X-ray machine has been broken for a very long time. The only treatment he has been given is 20 Panadol tablets and 10 Naproxen tablets and bandage for leg. These are not helping him. See the photos to see how badly his knee is broken*.

To conclude the case for Abdi there is no sleep, no rest, no walking, no shower, hard to go toilet. He must also cook his own food because there are no food services in East Lorengau Refugee Processing Centre (ELRTC). Everything here is self-service.
Abdi needs urgent medical care.

This is very serious and urgent. We think it will take a very long time before PIH or ABF or Lorengau Hospital will help him, Maybe they will not ever help him.
Please help our friend Abdi who is in very terrible pain. Please do what you can to get him treatment. We are worried he will lose the use of his leg and never be able to walk again.

@ManusAlert.”

* = I’ve included one photo below from that post, you can see more here if you wish.

The situation hasn’t changed. I re-shared a post on my personal Facebook last night:

“No medical person has come to try to help Abdi. His knee is broken and now he suffered for six days with no treatment. Still no sleep, too much pain. We are very worried for him that he might lose his leg or maybe die. Please, people reading this, try to get some help for our brother Abdi who broke his knee last Friday. PIH doctors refuse to treat him because XRay machine is broken. He needs to be on medevac flight to hospital today. Please please please help him before it is too late.
@ManusAlert

See this Guardian article about the medical situation on Manus here: Manus medical neglect scandalous, doctors say

The entire Manus and Nauru situation pisses me off. I’ve written quite a lot about my feelings about it and how I think there’s a better way.

Currently, I’m pissed off about this specific situation in a number of different ways. I can’t help but remember when I dislocated my kneecap two and a half years ago. I was able to get very effective, fast treatment, with appropriate pain medication and health support, and was back to my usual activities very soon after the accident. Heck, my blog post about it was even titled, Ouch! We’re lucky to have a good health system…..“, for crying out loud!

Abdi has been in pain with a suspected broken femur for a week without treatment! How long is it going to continue?? I have serious concerns about his welfare. He needs assistance now!

In the past five years that the refugees and asylum seekers have been on Manus and Nauru, there have been several deaths due to negligence and outright brutality by the Australian government.

A government that is deliberately causing harm to people that it should be helping. Their actions are despicable.

Photo of Abdi’s leg:

dark-skinned leg that is unnaturally swollen above the knee.

Update on “What Now for Manus?”

Last week I sent an email to some Parliamentarians as part of my personal actions in support of the men on Manus.

A spokesperson/ staffer/ etc. has got back to me from one of them. Below is the email he wrote and the one I sent back after I’d read it.

Stupid wedge politics.

His email:

Dear Clare,

Thank you for writing to the Shadow Minister about refugees in PNG following the closure of the former Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have been woefully incompetent in their management of offshore processing arrangements – including failing to be upfront from the start about access to essential services at alternative accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees.

The standoff at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if the Turnbull Government didn’t wait until the last minute to finalise ongoing arrangements in PNG.

Following the transfer of refugees from the closed Manus Island RPC to alternative accommodation, Malcolm Turnbull has a moral obligation to ensure refugees have access to essential services including food, water, security, health and welfare services.

Manus Island and Nauru were set up as regional transit processing facilities but have become places of indefinite detention because of Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton’s failure to negotiate other third country resettlement options.

Labor strongly supports the US refugee resettlement agreement and has called on Malcolm Turnbull to work with the US to expedite the resettlement process.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have put all their eggs in one basket with the US agreement and have failed to secure other third country resettlement arrangements.

It’s extremely disappointing Malcolm Turnbull has failed to show leadership and accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle eligible refugees from both Manus Island and Nauru.

Of course, there would need to be conditions on any resettlement deal with NZ in the same way there are conditions on the US arrangement.

Malcolm Turnbull needs immediately begin to negotiate the New Zealand and other viable third country resettlement options to get eligible refugees off Manus Island and Nauru as soon as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Shadow Minister on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Dunlop

The Hon Shayne Neumann MP | Federal Member for Blair

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

My response:

Hi there,

Thanks for answering my email. I’m still left feeling a bit dissatisfied.

In my original email I asked certain questions, namely: “Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why [was] the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices?”

Are there any answers for these?

Thank you.

 

We’ll see what happens.

What now for Manus?

Urrrrgh.

I bloody hate this situation.

I’ve made phone-calls, including to Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection). I’ve also sent an email to my local member, Bill Shorten MP (Opposition Leader) and Shayne Neumann MP (Shadow Minister for Immigration).

See that below. This sickens me…. and I feel so hopeless and helpless about it.

Check out the statement from Shadow Minister for Immigration here:  http://shayneneumann.com.au/news/immigration-and-border-protection/former-manus-island-regional-processing-centre/ A lot more mealy-mouthed than I’d hoped for. Luckily I saw it when looking up his contact details and could address the icky bits in my email (they’re the bits in red). In the email, when I speak of the “current situation” I’m referring to the situation today. The angle I took was influenced by a phone-chat I had with a staffer from Shayne Neumann’s office.

 

Dear Mr David Feeney MP, Mr Shayne Neumann MP and Mr Bill Shorten MP,

My name is Clare Keogh and I am a young university student living in [suburb], Victoria. I am deeply concerned about the situation on Manus Island that has been unfolding for several weeks and escalated today. I am also keeping the people detained on Nauru in my thoughts, as they should not be forgotten either.
I know that the current situation is not Labor’s doing and that the centres, when Labor restarted them, was intended to be used for regional processing rather than indefinite detention. 
 
However, the fact remains that the current situation is not the responsibility of PNG but of Australia. There have been reports of AFP involvement in today’s crisis on Nauru, after all. 
 
By what right are the men’s phones being seized? By what right are their few belongings being taken and destroyed? By what right have their only means of getting water and shelter been destroyed? By what right has their access to even the most basic medical aid and food been removed? Why has Behrouz Boochani been arrested?
 
I understand that, as you are in Opposition, it makes it harder to make concrete change. But you and your colleagues should speak up about the situation still. Perhaps you are advocating for them behind closed doors. Can you explain, concretely, how? 
 
I am particularly concerned by some of the information that has been presented in the statement produced by Mr Neumann an hour ago: 
 

The situation at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if Malcolm Turnbull was clear from the start about refugees’ access to essential services at the alternative accommodation in PNG.

Turnbull has a moral obligation to work with PNG to deescalate tensions and guarantee the ongoing safety and security of these people.

Labor accepts that the former Manus Island RPC has closed as the result of a decision of the Supreme Court of PNG.

The men at the closed centre need to relocate to alternative accommodation – such as East Lorengau – to access security, health and welfare services.

Footage and reports from advocates who have visited the East Lorengau site make clear that the “alternative accommodation” at East Lorengau is not ready. No water, toilets, or showers. No power. Inadequate shelter for the tropical conditions. No security and no safety. The locals do not want them there. After all, Manus Island is a tiny part of PNG, with scarce resources for the local population.
 
Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why is the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices? 
 
 
Nauru is also a small place that is struggling to care for all of its people. Yet today I heard news of a new contract being given to Canstruct to build more facilities (described as “garrison-type”) for those held there. There are children and vulnerable women on Nauru. Can nothing be done for them? 
I thought Australia was better than this. It makes me sick at heart to think of this going on, when it would be so much cheaper and more humane to fulfil our international and moral obligations and either bring them here or resettle them in another country who are willing and able to take them – like New Zealand – while working with other countries in the region to create a viable long-term solution. 
 
The idea that these measures are in place to “save lives at sea” or “protecting Australian borders” is rubbish. There are far cheaper and better ways of preventing people risking lives on boats to Australia, like investing in real regional dialogue and processing, providing support and resources to countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, where the boats set out from. 
 
The current situation is a punitive measure created to encourage asylum seekers to think that going to Australia is worse than staying where they are. Now that has led to desperate people being treated like animals, denied even the most basic human rights. 
 
Please do something. This is a major sticking point for myself and many others in terms of voting. More than that, making a stand is the right thing to do. Have some political courage, listen to those who are experiencing the crisis, and act, please. The situation has gone on for far too long! 
 
If you reply, please don’t use an automated response but something real. 

#Iamwatching – For Crying Out Loud, #bringthemhere!

I just spent 10 minutes calling my local MP’s office, as well as the offices of Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton to express my “utter disgust” (as I phrased it to Turnbull and Dutton’s staffers) at the current situation on Manus. Why, why, why do people still insist on treating refugees and asylum seekers as political footballs? Why do people not see that using punitive measures creates far more problems than it solves? Our response should be compassionate and respectful. Instead, we have this toxic dehumanising scary situation.

For those of you who are still unaware of what I’m talking about, here’s ASRC’s CEO, Kon Karapanagiotidis:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAsylum.Seeker.Resource.Centre.ASRC%2Fvideos%2F1591307030907437%2F&show_text=0&width=560

As of 17:00 today (i.e. 30 minutes ago), all food, water (drinking and running water, so no sanitation!), electricity and medicine access to the men imprisoned in offshore detention on Manus Island has been cut off completely. The Australian government workers and contractors have walked off the site and left “control” in the hands of the Paupa New Guinean military forces – the same group that has repeatedly threatened and made attempts to harm the men.

Supply is being cut off in order to force the men to move to a “transit centre” in another part of the island. A centre which hasn’t been built yet! If they more there? Well – as Kon says above it’s not the fault of the local people, who didn’t ask for the men to be on the Island in the first place. But moving 816 men into East Lorengau, with a population of 4,000 people, where resources are scarce enough to begin with – is quite frankly a worrying prospect. As Kon says in the video (starts about the 4 minute mark), the locals do not want them to come. They have petitioned against it and also made threats. Now, why would the asylum seekers want to move there?

These men do not deserve this. Bring them here

The men have been imprisoned for more than four years on Manus Island in squalid conditions. There are better ways of “dealing” with them!

Let’s reiterate some facts:

  1. Seeking asylum is NOT illegal, whether you come by plane or boat (or land but that’s not possible in Australia)
  2. Locking the refugees up doesn’t “stop the boats”
  3. Asylum seekers leave their countries because they’re FORCED to – because they’re scared for their own lives or the lives of their families.

Australia will have blood on our hands after this, I fear.

Read more about the current situation here and here and here.

I’ve written about potential solutions before #BringThemHere, drat it! and REBLOGGED: Alternative to Offshore Detention and many others – search my blog using the keyword refugees and you’ll see. I hate this situation.

😦 I wish the politicians would actually behave compassionately rather than punitively. It bloody sucks.

Life Update!

It’s raining/wet! Yay!

Not something I thought I’d say much….but I’ve been reflecting lately. This winter has been too dry (multiple sources have confirmed it) and it’s nice to have rain. Including proper heavy rain-on-roof pattering, not just grey drizzle (looking at you, hometown, and your three plus weeks of nothing but that in the past). What’s the weather been like in other places?

Also, last week I finished placement.

Head, shoulders and upper chest of woman (me) - shown. Woman is wearing blue headband knotted at top of her head, with glasses, a black jumper and pinkish-red shirt. I'm wearing my name-badge and am smiling slightly.

I had a routine while on placement for the start and end of the day. Upon arrival at the community health centre I worked in for placement, I’d sign myself in, receive my student/visitor pass and stick that in my pocket, looping the lanyard through my belt-loops or similar (hate wearing those things ’round my neck). I’d then put my name-badge on. The afternoon ritual was the reverse. Sign out, return pass and take name-badge off as I put on my coat, scarf and beanie. Then I’d walk to the bus stop and head off on my way home.

Rituals and routines are interesting things. They make us as humans – we’re creatures of habit and without them, we feel uncomfortable, some more than others. I bookended the start and end of my day with the ritual of pass + badge on and off because I’d learnt in the mental health subject just prior to placement that those sort of rituals are useful to separate “work” and “life”. It really helped, too, in that first week when everything was a little overwhelming and intense. It was an “I don’t have to think about that anymore today!” trick.

But that meant it left me with a funny feeling when I signed myself out that last time (at least, that I know of….). I worked with a great bunch of people and I learnt heaps. I’m already applying it in my next subject. 🙂

My weekend was a mix of busy, relaxing and fun. In different intervals. Organising something is good – even better when people respond to it with enthusiasm. Hanging out with people and letting other people do the organising (while being very appreciative of them) is also good.

I had fun with friends and made a few new ones, as well as enjoying plenty of good food. I reflected after the second event that when it comes to me and social events, I tend to measure how good of an event it was for me by the quality of the conversations I had with people at that event. If I talked deeply with someone or shared stories with them about mutual interests or an interesting topic that I hadn’t heard about before or something. Bonus points if in one of those conversations, I made a new connection or two or learnt something new about a friend. Light and fluffy conversations are cool too.

Oh yeah, and on Saturday I made myself brunch of sourdough toast (last slices before it went bad 😦 ), beetroot and chickpea dip, “boiled” egg, bocconcini balls and lettuce – leftovers from an event the night before. Verdict: delicious.

Plate with two slices of sourdough toast on it. On top of the toast is dip, lettuce, bocconcini and egg. Behind the plate is a mug of peppermint tea and the clay pot of the dip.

Today’s breakfast was a smoothie with wholegrain toast slathered with margarine. Yum!

Smoothie ingredients: 2x overripe bananas, 8x soft strawberries, 1x 250mL orange juice bottle – all of which needed using up. Plus 2-3 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt and Weetabix Bites crumbs (i.e. wheat flakes with the occasional berry piece). Blend all together until smooth, then enjoy. As you can see, I’ll be having this tomorrow as well… I made nearly a litre of the stuff – the cup below was my second and that jar is 500mL! :O 😀

Four small slices of margarined wholegrain toast on a plate. Behind them is a glass jar full of smoothie (smoothie is light pink, jar lid is yellow) and a mug (white with brown polka dots) full of the same.

 

 

Finally…. I haven’t written a political post in a while, because these days I don’t really have much headspace for it. But today, let’s just say that the note on my About page saying that I “reserve the right to disown the govt we’ve got, because they don’t speak for me” really applies on several fronts – namely, regarding refugees and marriage equality. It’d be nice if we had people in govt who had spines and a sense of decency… Some things have gone on for too bloody long. -_-

 

 

 

Who Really Inhabits the Refugee Activism Space?

Every day, it seems, there are things going on in the world that are just plain awful. I glance at them and pick a few to get properly worked up about. Then I take action about those things in some way – like going to the Palm Sunday rally. It was blooming cold and a little wet, though luckily most of the wet had occurred the day before. Still, there was plenty of people there – some reports said 5,000. We listened to the speakers – of different faiths and backgrounds, young and old, male and female – give witness to the truths as they saw them. Including one articulate woman, Idil Ali, who had the courage to speak truths to the power of a dominant force in the refugee movement, the Action Collective. She’s part of RISE – Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, a group that is run by refugees, for refugees. Why aren’t they more mainstream I wonder? Is it because they don’t quite fit the narrative that other “mainstream” activist groups want to send?

See video here: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRefugeesSurvivorsAndExdetainees%2Fvideos%2F1613517298688403%2F&show_text=1&width=560

At all of these rallies, the dominant presence are the loud, sometimes confrontational, people from the Refugee Action Collective or Network. There are other groups too – I need to do some investigation at some point into how the groups are connected.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s rally there was some friction – as mentioned in the video I think. It’s reminded me that we all need to be critical thinkers as activists, to make sure that the cause we’re fighting for is what we really think it should be.

I have a little motto for these things that I was given last year after hearing from a good speaker. Solidary and allyship, three bits of advice = 1. don’t be a dickhead – it’s their space/agenda/issue, not “yours”; 2. respect the main people affected by l-i-s-t-e-n-ing and following their lead in actions; 3. remember that issues are all connected (i.e. climate change issues are connected to refugee issues are connected to land rights issues and so on). Or, as RISE say, “Nothing About Us Without Us”.

A failure to listen properly has caused hurt here. But if that’s acknowledged and the wake-up call is heeded, things can improve.

There were some really good messages during the speeches. A moment that touched me was when one speaker asked us all to make hearts with our hands as she took a photo to send back to Nauru, to show those waiting in limbo that we’re still here, still pushing for change, still wanting to bring them here with us. Pressure is key – things are shifting. we can keep building momentum. Four years in limbo is far too long – let’s create change.

 

 

Palm Sunday Refugee Walk for Justice

Banner for refugee rally reading: "Walk for Justice for Refugees - 2017 - Bring Them Here - Close Manus, Close Nauru Welcome Refugees Permanent Protection - Palm Sunday, April 9. In the top right corner, a young girl holds a sign saying., "It's not fair".

Taken from the Walk for Refugees 2017’s profile picture

This event is occurring this Sunday. I’m excited – it’ll be the first time I’m able to attend. (Meant to go last year, but the knee intervened…)

I saw this photo up at my uni the other day.

Poster of baby in red t-shirt lying on white floor looking away from camera - text underneath read: Malcolm Turnbull #LetThemStay

#LetThemStay poster at uni – on one of the health student discipline-specific noticeboards. Way to go!

It made me happy. A bunch of my friends – including some who did the #LetThemStay group shot with me last year (well, the same student club) – are going along to Sunday’s rally.

There are rallies across Australia:

Details of Palm Sunday Rallies for Refugees 2017: NSW - Sydney (2PM, Hyde Park North to Circular Quay); Newcastle (12:50PM, Wheeler Place); Wollongong (2PM, Crown St Mall); Lennox Head (11AM, on beach front near bus stop). ACT: Canberra (1PM, Civic Square). VIC: Melbourne (2PM, State Library); Bendigo (SATURDAY, 10AM, near steps of info centre). WA: Perth (1PM, St George's Cathedral). QLD: Brisbane (2PM, King George Square); Townsville (4PM, Rock Pool, The Strand). SA: Adelaide (2PM, Victoria Square). NT: Darwin (5PM, Esplanade Park, from southern to northern end). TAS: Hobart (1PM, Parliament Gardens); Launceston (1:45PM, Princes Park to City Square).

Palm Sunday Rally 2017 details.

 

 

(Source: Catholic Religious Australia)

I’m going to the Melbourne one and I”m really pleased that some issues regarding solidarity – doing these events with refugees, not for or to them – appear to have largely been resolved. See the link below/.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FDemocracyInColour%2Fposts%2F1902309170026451&width=500

See if there’s a rally near you and come along!

#BringThemHere

Still, we must protest and raise our voices. The US-Australia deal is all-but-dead…why can’t the government show some courage and bring them here to Australia? close the camps!

Excellent analysis by David Manne in the following article: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/05/opinions/us-australia-refugee-deal/

Also, a perspective from America focusing on the humanity at the US-Mexico border: https://vox-nova.com/2017/02/05/brains-bodies-borders-biases-and-the-circle-of-holy-belonging/#more-29821