Andrew Zammit is a Research Fellow at the Global Terrorism Research Centre (Monash University). Today he published an article, What do ASIO’s adverse security assessments of refugees actually mean? about the adverse ASIO security assessments that currently lead to indefinite detention of asylum seekers/refugees. I have written about one such refugee, Ranjini, on this site previously. Earlier this year she gave birth: an Australian citizen born in detention. Oh, yes, they took Ranjini to a hospital to actually give birth, but to all intents and purposes, this is a child of this nation being raised in detention.
In another earlier article I highlighted detention centres are dysfunctional. Since then the situation has worsened, as the numbers of displaced people globally have continued to grow. I was shocked, as were many others, when off-shore processing was re-implemented.
I am simply the wife of someone who experienced mandatory detention. I live with the aftermath but I don’t have the academic background Andrew has to debate these issues.
You are reading this, you must have an interest in these difficult issues. On that basis, I implore you to read Andrew’s article.
Andrew quotes Director-General of ASIO David Irvine as saying:
“ASIO does not have a view, and certainly not a public view, on whether people who receive adverse assessments generically should be held in detention or not. There are other ways, and other solutions, to that problem, and is up to the government to examine all the possibilities and make its decision.”
A couple of days ago it was reported on the ABC that the ASIO findings being released are too short. It is definitely worth reading the words of The University of Sydney’s Professor Ben Saul in the same report.
Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul says the results are less than illuminating.
IAN RINTOUL: They are very, very general statements. There is no specific allegations or evidence given for those allegations. I mean they are literally, you know, six or seven lines long.
Interesting day, there seems to be an all out war of feminist ideologies. Interesting, because I do actually have a DtJ number and I’ve had a small debate with Helen Razer, author of Destroying the point, over physiology in the past. That resulted in my writing So what if male and female brains are different?
I’ve been pondering whether to disagree with Helen or not all morning. Jane Gilmore beat me to it in The point of destroying.
I’ve read Helen’s article twice. While I agree with some of her points I don’t agree with others and I do believe again Helen tries to convince us all men and women are all the same. I am convinced part of the problem we have is we refuse to accept we are in fact different. We refuse to utilise the strengths of each gender to the betterment of the human race while ensuring equality of rights. There seems to be this general push for everyone to believe equality means sameness. It doesn’t. I’ve addressed that question before too.
Yes, Helen is partially right when she says “Women are not nicer. Women are not a civilising influence. Women are just as capable of avarice and stupidity as anyone.” There are very few female serial killers, for example. In fact, Helen proved her own point – she didn’t write a “nice” article! I did find it interesting the number of men retweeting links to Helen’s article. Disproportionately high, I thought. I didn’t do a full mathematical analysis, I’ll leave that to someone like Chrys who is a whiz at such analysis!
A small point about female poverty, before I forget. I learnt this morning (emphasis added):
Prior to British rule, African women could own property and had legal rights. In 1927, British law declared them legal minors, dependent on their spouses.
I think the above is worth noting in light of Jane’s words:
Changing the inequities of male dominance over public life does not change history, but it is a means of changing the world we live in now.
I have a story to share that came to my notice last night. One of the readers of Love versus Goliath (the book) told me he knew how we felt. He was made to feel like a criminal for falling in love with an “Evil Oriental”.
Was this last year? Five years ago?
It was the early 1990s. Let us say twenty years ago in round figures. Twenty years ago and NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!
Yes, I accept our case was slightly more unusual because Mr O was an asylum seeker. However, citizens DO have rights. This reader and myself had rights.
I asked him to write a guest article for this website. I found his response VERY SAD.
“I would love to, but after reading yours, too many emotions have surfaced and I don’t think I would have your strength to do it.”
The pain of his experience, after twenty years, is still so powerful the emotions were caused to resurface by his reading our experience.
I have chosen not to identify our reader here. He has experienced enough pain already.
We still do not actually have a copy of the bill, but it is coming. Despite the fact we are in no way liable for this $208, we paid it. Sorting it out with the Red Cross and DIAC could take months, which really doesn’t help anything.
Believe it or not, it goes like this. The bank pre-approve the car loan, subject to us paying the $208. I can understand this – it is not the bank’s decision to make about whether we are liable or not. I try to pay the bill. I CAN’T!!! The bill is too old, there was no way on the electricity company’s systems that I could pay it!
At that point I I cried. It was like being back 20 months ago. The tears just ran down my face. I couldn’t stop them. All the pain and fear just seemed to come rushing back. This should not be happened kept ringing in my ears. Again I felt I was drowning.
The young man who manages the electricity company’s Twitter account was wonderful. I have no idea about the rest of the company, but he was lovely. He organised for the company to open a new account so we could actually pay, then sent me a confirming email I could forward to the bank. Of course, all this took so long we still do not have a final approval stamp from the bank! He also confirmed the advice I received last night that these things drop off after five years. I knew nothing, of course: I’ve never had such a situation.
Yes, you can put the “f” word in the heading. I just try very hard not to use bad words on here.
I am furious, frustrated and feeling completely “done over” by the “system”. Why, you ask? I hoped you’d ask. LET ME TELL YOU!
As you will recall, Mr O’s car is dead and needs to be buried. We had hoped to get one more year out of it – no such luck. But he needs to be able to get to work, so whether we can afford it or not, we have to buy a new car. Mr O finds a car, we bite the financial bullet and submit a car loan application with the bank. We look on the positive side that this will build Mr O a credit history in Australia. Bank is reasonably positive so we pay a deposit on the car.
Today the bank contacts me. The standard credit check came back showing Mr O has a default with TruEnergy, now Energy Australia, for $208 dated January 2011. Really? Mr O was, you may recall, involuntarily removed from Australia in April 2010. He was hardly likely to be accumulating electricity or gas costs in January 2011!!!
I call Energy Australia and try to find out the situation. “What is the account number?” Of course I don’t know that. We don’t know that. We don’t even know if it is actually for Mr O! I ask what address is the bill for? She can’t tell me, but suggests that maybe Mr O called from overseas to organise the account for someone else. WTF??? Did she hear anything I had told her already?
For most families this is a hellish week. In fact, I could say a hellish month.
So far this month we have had:
- Year 6 Graduation
- Year 12 final sign up (pay fees, confirm subjects etc)
- Parent’s Orientation Night for High School
- Second Hand Book Day
- School Reports for Primary School (more on that later)
- Work Children’s Christmas Party
- Work Department Christmas Lunch
- Mr O Jnr 1 had a party (we provide taxi service)
- House inspection
On top of that I have been madly editing the manuscript and entered Pitch Wars! This Friday we have the break-up for the holidays at work. We are a week late returning library books and I had a fight with Telstra today, but that is a whole other article all by itself!
The school reports are a bit of a drama this year as part of the teachers’ industrial action against the Victorian Government is no reports – or at least minimal reports. The younger two got reports today, but only grades, no comments.
I think Mr O is suffering survivor’s guilt. I must stress, I am not a psychologist. I am a wife. Mr O’s wife. While this is intensely personal, we are sharing it to help others understand the life of a refugee. Maybe help other refugees, feeling alone and sad, why they may be feeling that way. Yes, Mr O arrived in Australia, the second time, on a partner visa. The first time he arrived on a false passport as an asylum seeker. Just because we got married does not stop Mr O being a refugee. All it means is he has a partner visa rather than a protection visa. Reality isn’t changed by the type of visa.
We were talking this evening and I could see the the emotional pain he was suffering. We talked about the possibility he is suffering survivor’s guilt as I have read quite a bit about it over the years. I explained survivor’s guilt to him in terms of a plane crash. Four hundred people are killed in the crash and the fifty who survive feel guilty for surviving. Sadly, even if this label is correct, it doesn’t help him deal with it any more easily than if there were no label. It is what it is.
I turned to my old friend Google and searched “survivor guilt refugees”. Sure enough the results scrolled up on the screen – lots of results, over 22 million results. Clearly survivor’s guilt is a recognised problem for many refugees.
One result in particular caught my eye.
Survivor’s guilt has been identified as a problem common to many refugees that negatively impacts a healthy psychosocial adjustment (Brown, 1982; Lin et al., 1982; Tobin and Friedman, 1983). Successfully fleeing from dangerous conditions, many refugees left behind family members and friends who did not or could not escape. After reaching safety, refugees reported being haunted by feelings of guilt, especially knowing the danger still facing those who were left behind. The awareness that people who remained at home are alive, possibly suffering, and living in unpleasant conditions may heighten survivor’s guilt and contribute to emotional stress. … Survivor’s guilt can continue in a spiral of pain, sadness and guilt that causes barriers to enjoying the safety, success and sense of well-being in the resettlement country.
Counseling Refugees: A Psychosocial Approach to Innovative Multicultural Interventions
By Fred Bemak, Rita Chi-Ying Chung, Paul Pedersen
The book goes on to talk about the process of healing.