I’m tired of the world today.
I woke to news about a baby of asylum seekers born in our detention centres, flown to Brisbane for treatment and being held by staff in a bid to keep it from returning to the back to offshore processing when they could not guarantee safety of appropriate medical treatment. Staff were asking for people to come and support their decision and the comments on social media brought me low.
I cried into my cup of tea, tears brought on by the callous comments of my fellow Australians who argued that the bleeding left wings (of which I assume I am a part) care more for those seeking asylum than “Australians doing it tough.”
For some, this is an issue close to home—they’re disenchanted with our farmers suffering drought and unaided aside from the charity of those with little to give themselves. They may be servicemen who are concerned about the welfare of homeless veterans or adults whose childhood was tainted by being lost in a system that failed them. Our indigenous appear forgotten in their towns.
I read an article about an indigenous woman who was the first person to attend university from her area and this made news. But for some, it is merely racism and intolerance poorly cloaked in patriotism. These are the same people who argue we have too many homeless but walk past them in the street with no thought of sparing change or asking if they need a meal.
This news brought me low this Saturday morning as I sat comfortable in my home with my children and my tea. Aware that I was safe, fed, healthy and protected, I was keenly aware of my privilege.
I love this country. On my long drives out west, when the hills rise up beside me and the wildflowers line the roads and the gumtrees stand tall and silent in paddocks and fields, I feel a keen sense of belonging. I belong to this land. It owns me. No matter where I go, this will always be my home.
And yet, Australia does not belong to me—and it doesn’t belong to you, or anyone who is fortunate enough to call this sun-burnt country their home.
We are all here by accident of birth. Blessed, lucky, a roll of the dice. I have no right to punish others for the same randomness that made somewhere else their country of birth.
This country is a melting pot of cultures which makes it rich in diversity. We honour the indigenous of this country and the original custodians of this land. We welcome those who wish to enrich the tapestry of our home with their culture and gifts.
When did the white inhabitants of this country start to feel like Australia was owed to them?
Australia is not yours. It does not belong to you. You belong to Australia. And you do not speak for me.
Author: Liss Brewer
Apprentice Editor: Carlene Kurdziel; Editor: Katarina Tavčar