Letter to the Expert Panel on Asylum seekers
Dear Very Important people,
I have always had a home. A physical place that I return to at the end of each day, safe in the knowledge that it will still be there, full up with my memories, my life and the people I love. Growing up in country Australia much of the lexicon of my childhood derived from this sense of permanence. When the bell sounded at the end of the school day I knew it was ‘home time’, when our annual beachside holidays drew to a sandy and sunburnt closure I knew it was ‘time to go home’ and when I was asked where I lived, I could always rattle off my address confidently. Accurately. Proudly.
Later when I began to travel the world I became acquainted with the notion of ‘homesickness’. That tenderest and most insistent pull from afar. That indescribable mixture of emotions full of burning eucalyptus leaves, Dads pancakes, the fresh newspaper and the relaxation of the self when it returns to the heartland. I have discovered that the more I journey into the world of others the more I have had to reason, argue and cajole this homesick self into widening the arc of the returning boomerang.
And so I ask. What force of nature, what passionate and counter intuitive purpose would it take to drive me permanently away from everything I hold dear, from the things that have made me, from the people I love, from my home? What doomsday prophet, what nuclear threat, what horror could coerce me to leave behind, without safe passage, to an uncertain future, my life and my heartland? Forever. I get nervous when I don’t have an airport transfer.
The heart yearns for home. Every heart yearns for home. We all share the same heart. And what a brave and courageous heart that is. To risk never returning to the heartland in the hope of life without fear, oppression, persecution and harm. I am struck by the profound sacrifice of this departure and know, as I have known from childhood, that it is a decision I will never have to make. Viva Australia. A lucky country with lucky, lucky people. And careless with that luck.
So why should we care when our neighbour has no home, when they have no place to rest the body that holds the heart that beats in time with our own? Because that is our heart. And it’s breaking. Dear Very Important people, the only durable solution is a heartfelt one. Offer a home to those who seek one, increase our humanitarian intake, promptly process applications and process in country and end mandatory detention.
Make us a luckier country.
With all my heart,