Over the parliamentary break, knowing that an expert panel was working on recommendations to break the political deadlock, I was hopeful. Asylum seeker and refugee advocacy groups were making submissions and at least one of the members of the panel had a long history of a humanitarian approach to asylum seeker policy. Surely sanity would prevail?
I have been so shocked at the final outcome it has taken me days to write anything. As I start drafting this, I have no plan for this article, I am just writing. Many people with much broader experience in this field than I have written much in the past few days and I’ve read as much as I can. Ordered to bed by my doctor with a chest infection, reading has actually been possible.
“We do need to do as much as we can to dissuade people from embarking on dangerous boat journeys to Australia, but we have a responsibility alongside that to not further damage people who are escaping persecution and are the victims of trauma and torture.”
I agree. I live with the aftermath of mandatory detention. I listen to my husband cry out in his restless dreams. I live with the residual pain of his journey every damn day. The politicians do not. Yes, of course, gradually he is healing but it doesn’t happen overnight. To those who say asylum seekers are “economic refugees” (simply fleeing poor countries for a better life) I can’t speak for all but I do know without a doubt my husband was never one of those. He pores over news reports from his homeland and is horrified at developments. While he is happy here, I know there will always be a part of him that would prefer to be back there driving change. This is not possible. As it is not possible for so many others who flee.