Tag Archives: christianity

What can we do about asylum seekers?

1 Jul

(I recently gave a talk about my experiences at Immigration and was asked to write a follow up blogpost. Here it is. This was first posted on the City Bible Forum blog. You can find it here.)

Whenever I speak to people about issues to do with Asylum Seekers, I am always asked the question ‘what should we be doing?’  People who feel strongly about this issue often feel that their response should be action – they want to contribute, to work towards reversing the terrible things that happen.  Evidence of this more broadly is that the Australian people have made it abundantly clear that they are not satisfied with what is considered inaction on the Government’s part. People consider it to be so great a problem that they want governments to come up with solutions (like the Pacific Solution, the Malaysia Solution, etc).

The thing is, there aren’t too many Australians who can stand on remote coastlines in Indonesia and try and talk a person out of getting on a boat. And even if there were people doing that, they probably wouldn’t be successful in many cases. And they probably couldn’t cover the whole coastline. And if they did, chances are the people smugglers would find a new place to launch the boat from.

There is very little that Australians can do in response to this issue. In this way, they rely on Governments to do things on their behalf – which tends to bring us back to the biggest issue in all of this – if we don’t like what the government or the alternative government are proposing, what can we do? Continue reading

‘Not our problem’

1 Jul

(This article first appeared at the Australian Evangelical Alliance’s Centre for Christianity and Society website. You can find it here.)

Abdullah (not his real name) was a young Kurdish boy, about 12 years old.  I remember that day in 2010 when I saw him step off the barge onto the jetty at Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island, clinging to his mother’s arm. His mother had brought him and his young sister (about 8 years old) to Australia after his father and uncle didn’t return home from a day at the markets.

No-one could get Abdullah to talk. We were all worried about him and it quickly became obvious that he was suffering one of the worst cases of Post-Traumatic Stress that we’d come across. He wouldn’t engage with the mental health team, the children’s activities coordinators, his school teachers or the other Kurdish kids at the detention centre. He had withdrawn into his own world.

As a former youth worker and from my time on missions in Sierra Leone, I had a bit of experience with kids with trauma. I decided to try and break down the barrier and get to know him and his family. Every few days, I would make an effort to seek him out to say hello, crack some jokes and have a quick chat with his mother to see how she was travelling… Continue reading

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