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Fools for love


This Lent with Easter Sunday falling on April Fools day Godspace are running a series on For love of the world God did foolish things… it’s bringing out/together all sorts of foolish ideas that are worth checking out. Below are a couple of links to contributions I’ve made to that blog on that theme.

Foolish Love: What words do we ever have to express our love well?

This piece is a story of the time I stuck up bad poetry all of the woods like Orlando from As You Like It…. you can read more here

Come, Be a Holy Fool

This piece is an invitation to follow the example to do foolish things for love too… you can read more here

May you encounter something Holy and foolish this Lent.

Taurikura, Talitha
have peace


Better Together 2018


marriage equality love won 15.11.2017

The chairs have been stacked, the glitter has been swept up, and our all-gender bathrooms have been returned (alas) to their ‘male’ and ‘female’ binary designations. Better Together 2018 was an inspiring two-day showcase of the depth of thinking and passion of our LGBTIQ community of communities.

Over those two short days, 647 LGBTIQ people and allies attended 56 sessions with dozens of speakers and facilitators to revive the legacy of the National Homosexual Conferences of the 1970s and 80s and establish a new 21st-century platform for conversation, collaboration and action on LGBTIQ rights and social justice.

The Equality Project was founded to open up space for talking more deeply about how our communities work together and how we support others in the social justice movements to achieve genuinely meaningful and lasting social change.

Our biennial conference is just part of that.

We need to keep the conversation going and continue to build bridges that support all of our communities and achieve our vision of a world that values and affirms all LGBTIQ people as full citizens.

– The Equality Project Team


The Rise of Rainbow Atheism – Geoff Allshorn


  • still going to church looking for community
  • still going to church seeking space of acceptance and inclusion
  • LGBTIQA+ support is being “snuck in” by allies under other labels/programmes eg. playground bullying, welfare issues… there are those working within the system for change.
  • non-believers/atheists are a belief group that needs to be respected too – rather than dismissed as an individual that doesn’t belong anywhere. How might Rainbow Atheists develop a corporate identity?
  • atheism still seen as largely white, educated, male… see hope of that changing.
  • religiosity growing in poorer regions rather then privileged. What does that tell us?
  • frequently becoming atheists because of damage by church/religion – a way of saying “fuck you” to the church. This group are largely invisible and unacknowledged.
  • {older} I find solace in faith that there’s something afterwards when my friends die.
  • I have a humanist approach.  Where there are experiences that validate my faith, I stay in church. If there’s not, I leave. It’s faith that gives belonging – not the church. More comfortable to stay with what you know than reflect and grow… you feel hurt and don’t want to be hurt again, it’s natural to want to stay away… but am I exploring?  I care about refugees, equality, I’m an activist. Faith still informs my actions and choices.

Further Reading:

Australian skeptics
YouTube The Atheist Experience
Contact Geoff if you’re interest in being part of something local – formal or informal.

garden town hall urban planters

Disabled Identity – A Symposium with Mellem Rose, Aymam Barbaresco, Jax Brown and Grant Maynard (Panel Chair)

GM: Interaction and intersectionality can often feel like groundhog day. Frequently have people approach and ask things like: how do you fuck? how do you do yoga? what’s wrong with you? you are so inspirational! … our story must necessarily inspire or be tragic. How or have you experienced this?

JB: Repetitive and a stereotype.  My life must be terrible or tragic… that’s not my truth… I don’t tell a sad story because I don’t have one. People don’t know how to respond.  I can get practical assistance with access t housing, employment, etc. but what about access support to explore sexuality and inclusion?

AB: Mine is a neurological diagnosis. I’m a person – mind, heart, body, soul… treat me like anyone else.  Within LGBTIQ+ community… feel a bit judged.  Don’t fit. Sitting at equal eye level and making eye contact is important. Sets us more equally.

MR: I’m non-binary, am autistic and have Tourettes…. only diagnosed at 29. Until that point I had been told I had behavioural issues.  I’m not aware when my tone and expression change. Sound is deafening – sights, sounds, smell, touching…. sensory issues. I want to engage but I have to leave. Are there quiet networking spaces? I get worries that people don’t understand me.They think I mean it (raised voice or swearing) but I don’t.  I swear at the doctor, the chemist, in restaurants… to be around me you have to accept who I am.

JB: Around privacy and consent, we have to overshare to get access.  Weave the personal with our rights.  We not taught our bodies belong to us – it seems it belongs to doctors, belongs to those trying to make me “normal”. Never given space to accept my ability as who I am. calling body ‘home’ instead of being exiled from my own skin… feel to move in this body and my chair like I need a lot of distance, not to take up space or be different, I need to inhabit and call this body mine.  I get to say what I’m going to share and not. My hair is bright red – as a flag to others who are queer but also sometimes because it means I get to participate in a conversation about that instead of my disability.

AB: I choose to participate in tests and trials. I hope to make it better for the next person. I’m happy to be used as research.

MR: Before I was diagnosed… my parents would talk about me.  They wanted support for how hard it was raising me.  The online spaces are filled with parents (they post photos, videos, stories of behaviour seeking advice and sympathy without consent). I’m still trying to find online spaces where I can be myself.  I’m an over-sharer but I’m making that choice.

GM: How important is choice?

JB: When I was young my family were involved in medical practice, tests, etc.I didn’t have a choice. I do now.  People have been so disempowered.  when you ask: “what do you want? Where do you see yourself?” They don’t know how to answer.  Lack of choice.  We are denied so much that’s taken for granted – that one day you will live out of home, with a partner… receive care from family members not staff so you can’t advocate for what you can’t imagine you could have. Medical appointments… take a lot of effort and capacity – it is like running a business to co-ordinate getting the services you need.

AB: Access isn’t safe on PT at night.  There might be a ramp and signage but what about being deaf, queer, managing loud noise (autism)… Access means and looks like lots of different things

MR: After I resolve an issue people often want a hug/comfort.  I don’t. Not my problem.  Need my boundaries. There’s a lot of drinking and drugs in the LGBTIQ+ culture and I want to feel safe.

JB: we need improved mental health services. when I had depression in my 20s it was assumed the cause was my chair not because I was heartbroken and queer… it was nothing to do with my chair.  I have to do Jax 101 with every doctor > this is profoundly disempowering. I have to be in this advocacy role and I don’t want to be.  Have depression, must = chair.  I have to educate. I can’t just be who I am.

AB: I have scoliosis so was put on female growth hormones.  experienced weight gain from the drugs.  No youth helpline and online chat rooms – had family only. I ate a lot.

GM:  It’s hard to find an advocate – eg. a minority within a minority e.g. Gay and in a chair… started to take drugs… became a regular meth user… for the first time felt connected to community. I had somewhere to go and something to everyday.

How can we create better space?

  • gender diverse/non-binary research is taking place overseas but not here
  • ask the person what they want, don’t assume you know
  • educate yourself and become fluent – we need to advocate for ourselves and each other. Society is very conservative – suggesting sexuality is a very radical idea
  • change surveys and forms to have inclusive language. e.g. male or female.  Systems are stuck in binary.  Everyone should be working on this.
  • e.g. if I want to go to a gay club, might get a referral from my disability agency to an LGBTIQ+ community… go there and they refer back. Need paid work for people to be trained in both and offer an integrated package.


love is love graffiti

Beyond Sorry, The Apology at Work by Equal Voices

The Equal Voices campaign invite all Christians to make the following apology.

Beyond “sorry”, what does this apology look like at work (lived out)

Allies need to stand up. People will often say: “But I haven’t done anything”  … yes. You haven’t done anything. You haven’t done anything to discover whether your church is a safe or welcoming space for those LGBTIQA+ identifying and create the foundation if it is not. This work is left to them.  You haven’t had conversations with those who find inclusion and acceptance of LGBTIQA+ identifying folk at church difficult.  This work is left to them.  You haven’t fought for recognition and acceptance of all humankind – made by God, in the image of God, loved by God. This work has been left to them… what could you do that isn’t “nothing”? What consultation and listening might we be able to undertake from the wisdom of those who have been largely carrying the burden of this work alone? And how might we come alongside as allies and advocates?

An apology to my LGBTIQ+ friends, and to all who have been adversely affected by the teachings and behaviour of Christians and their churches

Considering the ways in which you have been hurt by me, and by other Christians and churches, I ask for your forgiveness:

  1. For being too slow to acknowledge that we need to say sorry to you;
  2. For not speaking up against the damaging, isolating, and often violent mistreatment you have been subjected to;
  3. For speaking about you, without first listening to you;
  4. For not creating safe environments within our churches where people can speak openly and honestly about their struggles and understandings;
  5. For perpetuating stereotypes, and for not taking full account of your actual lived experiences;
  6. For talking to you or about you in such a way as to suggest that sexual and gender differences are not part of your true identity as humans made in the image of God;
  7. For perpetuating the mistaken belief that sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated, healed or changed;
  8. For rejecting and harming people with intersex variations because we fail to understand or accept your non-binary biological sex characteristics;
  9. For not acknowledging that Christians who are seeking to be faithful to their Lord and to the Scriptures are coming to different conclusions on matters of gender, sexual orientation, non-binary biological sex, and marriage.

I commit myself to:

  1. honour and support you in every way I can;
  2. be open to your correction and gentle guidance;
  3. act in love to hold others to account for words, behaviour or practices which hurt, harm or exclude;
  4. promote respectful, inclusive and informed discussion about issues of Biblical interpretation and application;
  5. work with you to bring about transformative change within our churches.

mental health and transgender people

Mental Health and Transgender People with Brenda from Transgender Victoria


Inclusive practices

  • use the correct pronoun (ask don’t guess) this is as important as correctly knowing my first name
  • designing forms – gender and titles, Mr, Mrs, etc.)
  • designing forms – ways of writings marital status/family of choice (not family of origin). Allow space to self-describe.
  • consideration given to regard to privacy, confidentiality and discretion (especially where people are trans and intersex)
  • don’t assume someone is (or isn’t) TGD because of the way they look or how they seem.
  • treating everyone the same is not necessarily meeting individual needs (needs not met and understood)


We need to remove systemic barriers

There are no LGBTIQ/TGD mental health programs at state, national, local levels. Nothing to address it. Nothing changes. What needs to be done?


…suicide, self-harm, eating disorders. 48.1% attempt suicide by 25 years old.


Trans and Gender Diverse (TGD) people can

  • be strong
  • look outfor others
  • engage community and allies
  • recognition getting easier but still a long way from equality
  • use your experience to make it easier for others
  • remember the power of stories
  • encourage medical providers to get themselves up to speed – tell them about online training Ruth McNair is releasing later this year (right now I’m paying them to teach them about me)
  • recognise that some find solace in religion


Families can do:

  • a LOT family has impact
  • find the help you/they need eg. RCH, Monash, Northside, PMC, Equinox, H&H, TransFamily Drummond St Services, QLives, Switchboard
  • use right pronouns and first names
  • be positive there are many success stories
  • support Safe Schools – bullying
  • support and promote positive TGD stories
  • embrace and celebrate diversity
  • pride march/events

What needs to be done short term?

  • encourage TGD to reach for help. “You’re not alone. It’s ok.”
  • encourage families to accept not reject TGD family members
  • encourage increased TGD safe and informed medical practitioners and make access easier
  • improve TGD friendly and informed phone support
  • encourage more peer supports organisations

What needs to be done medium term?

  • informed consent model
  • better TGD pathways
  • talk to your Member of Parliament about your lived experience around legislation – need to be known as community/constituency members
  • medical practitioners up to speed
  • increased/improved mental health interventions and programs

What needs to be done long term?

  • lobby at Federal/State and Territorial levels
  • improve Medicare and PBS support
  • private health care cover
  • provision of a multidisciplinary clinic in each state > within public healthcare system

2018-01-13 001 058

Melbourne Bi-Network Strategies for Health and Resistance

A network of BI+ within queer community. 22 members, 3 aims:

  1. education
  2. broadening community
  3. look at existing organisations – are they inclusive? could they be more so?how can we work together?

Triple Bi-Pass show – listen to podcast episodes


  • I have to choose between going to an autism support organisation or queers support organisation – have to explain my other thing whichever I decide.
  • Ella Musak – done research on bisexuality and men in rural Australia.  How can we support people that are rural and isolated.? There’s a high correlation of bisexuality and family violence/similar to misogyny and family violence… are they queer and experiencing bi-phobia?
  • We’ve had a caller say listening to our shnow was like listening to his diary
  • First time at a conference, great to have this space. Discrimination, homophobia and transphobia, within the community.
  • Psychiatrist on staff. Only 10% of bi-males are coming out.  There’s a high incidence of aids – they’re married to women and having sex with men. negative health outcomes of multi-gendered attraction.  “bi-furious” physical and mental outcomes… how do we fix this?
  • Don’t go into the queer lounge at Uni… doesn’t feel safe. I didn’t know what having social support felt like.
  • Identifying as bi… you are seen as public property.  Bi-sexuals are more likely to expereice domestic violence, sexual assault and being fetishcised.
  • Gay people see you as fake, a liar, dabbling… straight people see you as gay.
  • Created a resource called “Bi-5” an audit tool for organisations… they might say they’re welcome and spaces are safe but are they?
  • Bi-Alliance walked under a banner within the Pride parade and got heckled.
  • Need to report biphobia.  Anti-discrimination support is there if you want it.  Personally and for the stats – need to make the problem (needs of community) visible
  • Know of a woman in a domestic violence relationship. Police came to the house once a week for 5 years (violence) both were bi but its reported as hetero because it was male/female.
  • San Fransisco far ahead on resources – they produce a pamphlet/guide for therapists re learning affirming language for therapeutically supporting poly, pan, multi-gendered, asexuals…
  • That idea that men and women can’t be friends… bi-people can’t have friends of either gender.
  • Research forms can offer a “gay/lesbian” box but we need another category. we’re not only leaving people out but we’re gathering bad data.


The LGBTI community and the Christian Church – dispelling the myths and bridging the gap with

Anthony Venn-Brown, Founder and CEO, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International

Full session talk and slides here:


2018-01-13 001 011

How Faith Communities Can Support Transgender People with Sally Goldman (Panel Chair)

Ask of four faith leaders – what do you do at your church?

Beck Bower – Northern Inclusive Church
You have more friends than you know. You don’t have to surrender yourself to your faith. was at the Justice Conference…. this is a better conference.  You are preaching a powerful message. I try not to do anything different on the basis of someones sexuality.  Someone comes and asks: My son is trans, he’s 8 years old – will you baptise him?  Yes.  want everyone to be their most authentic self. want people to find belonging in a faith community that supports you when you need support. You are loved. Listen to people and love people, support people.  Answer any questions… can you help me find a friendly/understanding hairdresser? What does the bible say about people like me? Transgender Vic/Family… our church tithes 10% of its income to these organisations.  Acknowledge we don’t have all the answers.

Rev Susan Townsend – Metropolitan Church
Everyone created equally Psalm 139 – loved and cherished just how they are.  All CC churches. Participate on Board, as pastors, community volunteers. Angel – studies re how churches can be more inclusive.  Pronouns on our name tags, gender neutral bathrooms at conferences. Language for non-gender God, use the word siblings not brother/sister, etc. Acknowledge Intersex Remembrance day.

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black – Leo Baeck Centre
Progressive Jewish movement – readings, Torah, Prayer books use non-gendered language and move away from King/Lord/Master language.  Have a statement on our handouts – “people of any religion and sexual identity welcome” Religion needs to change to become progressive religion.  All are made in the image of God and the essence of God is within them.  Love is a response to God’s presence in the world, irrespective of who its between. Progressive Rabbis – post-plebiscite… asked for legislation to be passed immediately.  Been conducting same-sex commitment ceremonies in last 10 years… not a queue of people waiting to marry so far.  Daughters of Israel and sons of Zion > binary language. Need to drawer from those elders you admire.

Sedat Annis/Omis (sorry I’m sure that’s spelt incorrectly!) – Buddhist Order
To develop greater and great depths of compassion is the path: intention – generosity, kindness… founder was gay.  Becomes meaningless when you are fully embodied/authentic self.  we do meditation and study in gender groups. Join whichever one you feel is the authentic you.  when events are male/female… if you are non-binary, which do you go to? Retreats and events are mixed now so that it doesn’t matter.

Ask of four trans people: how does my faith support my trans/gender journey and personally?

Michelle – 40s, autism, Christian, queer-trans, work at a bank. Grandfather was a Sydney Anglican. I have a theology degree.  Good man or woman of God. Melbourne affirming and inclusive.  Attend Fitzroy North Community Church. I’m wonderfully and beautifully made and they love me. Life of Jesus… I’m a human person like he was… inclusion, acceptance, kindness, compassion. Don’t have to wear a mask or pretend to be something that I’m not.  There are people like me in the church that don’t have the love and support that I have had – they don’t know how to come out/live their truth and maintain their faith.  Be patient and tell stories.  This works. It’s not contrary.

Nero – artist, author, faith/spirituality, mental health, Jewish culturally but not by religion.  Language, food, art, community. Judaism and trans not conflicted.  Not just tolerant but embracing… if I want to live immersed in Jewish community need to be south, if with my queer community need to live in the northern suburbs.  I have to choose who I’m close to.  I do speeches with my Mum to more conservative Jewish audiences – went back to my school King David.  Have a Facebook group:Here, queer and Jewish…don’t have to choose in this space.  Have Sabbath dinners with this group.  Need faith along the journey for mental health and wellness.

Terry Anne O’Donnell – “Why did You make me like this?!” years of pain/considering suicide.”Why didn’t you give me a girls body?” Left-handed, dyslexia, called dumb at church, a sinner and a cissy.  Took a long time to know I am loved just as I am.  Feels like yesterday but it was 1997 when I started that process.  T.I.L.G.B.Q.A Diana West, Christian faith.  Bullied to ‘toughen you up’. You need to find a Trans-elder… they  guide in challenges and have love in their hearts.  Be kind to those who are angry/hurting.  Sometimes you need to walk on/move on. Became homeless and metstreet church crew who feed those on the street.  Show people you have a faith people can get up and walk to.

Michelle – gay monk came out. can change faith communities – work with them to change.  Of the four church leaders here the three females are all lesbians.  It’s about becoming and living as your authentic self.

What are some of the roadblocks?

  • approach to text
  • cultural complexity (eg race norms)



‘I would like to go, stupidly, towards the bodies that my anxiety has kept me from.’
– Guy Hocquenghem, ‘The Screwball Asses’

I will be content with nothing less that the total and complete destruct-
tion of my body. Now is not the time to be flippant, now is the time to be
sincere, and helpful, but I still say, ‘I like to sleep with people who could
break my ribs id they chose to’. It’s stupid because couldn’t anyone, phys-
ically? And wouldn’t they?

Smashed ceramic chips are like fingernails, kept clipped short
and ragged, scraping over your legs. No two chips are identical. Rough
snaggles, little knives. Obsessively clipped every day. I love forms that
take a long time to set. I love thinking about waiting for the grout to dry.
Thin cylinders, almost meeting in the corner of the room. At the same
time smooth, especially aesthetically, and rough, like a secret. I feel like
I’m visiting the clinic, and I’m into it.

I was clearing away the cups from tea and coffee after group.
There was a tea bag bound to a stirring stick, the string wound tightly
around. In sharing time he said, ‘If you can’t be a faggot, why be a man at
all?’ and honked, a nervous burst of laughter. When he was not speaking
I looked at him. His shoulders hung forward with many years of habit,
the same as mine. The things I love looking at are the things that are the
same as me, or spaces where I can see that I could be too; there but for
the grace of God go I. When he was speaking, I looked away. It’s just a
wrapper. A vessel.

I like to think about bending steel. To make something look like it
flutters but allow it to be still. Allow something so precious to evaporate
into the air. Less death wish, more stability. It’s good to have a role, you
whispered, handing me a tray of raw meat, not looking at me. ‘everybody
treats you like a boy until you say you are one’. The bruise becomes the
unmistakable centre of the long neck. The neck becomes negative and
the bruise positive. Like the neck exists only o support the bruise. Like
this vessel exists only to support what’s inside of it. To see your pulse in
light blue. To feel your heart beating in your skin. ‘These things we do,’
he says. ‘they never used to come naturally to me,’ Nothing even really
happens, but the interiority is so overpowering, so strong. The blood is
at the surface.

An excerpt from the stunning work of Spence Messih with Vincent Silk and many other artists are now on display as part of the UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Perspectives on art and feminism exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 15 Dec 2018-25 March 2018. Free entry. Check it out!


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Creating home…



This image is likely a familiar one, it was my Facebook homepage banner for more than a year.   This symbolic little house is actually made up of  something I dumpster-dived. I think it’s meant to be the tip-top piece of a garden climbing frame to train plants over and it’s wound all around with stray bits of remnant wool from the Footscray Salvos Winter Warmth crafternoon projects.

This little prayer receptacle came about initially because housing conversations are always ones of potential and possibility, fears and hopes, needs and dreams – my own and those of others. It’s hard to hold “space” for all those conversations in your head and your heart, especially over time.  It occurred to me that a gift of faith is having the comfort (and discomfort) of verses such as this in Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds…” I’m not always that good at praying regularly but the prospect of somewhere to ‘hold’ all that felt too much to ‘hold’ was a powerful one and a visible manifestation in the world of putting down what I carried was a very helpful, and healthy, for my less visible inner world.


Over the last year, this little house has been a receptacle  and companion for prayers public and private, communal and individual, at home and away, morning and night… prayers over grace, dinner, stories, stones, and tears…

It has borne witness to the ending of the community house at Droop St and the journey of finding home for Hawo and Omar and their children Falis, Istanbul, Yehye, Hibo, Dihabo and also for ourselves: Maria and Eddy, Bron and myself relocating within Footscray to a five bedroom house and soon joined by Tekitah.

The latter of us were in our new place for perhaps 3 months before we discovered (through a planning permit notice getting hammered up in our front yard) that we would need to move again and, just like that, a shadow was cast over our sense of security and place. How do you develop attachment in a place you will not stay? How do you put down roots? All those conversations and yes – prayer… about people, place, priorities… community and commitments, calling and capacity…

We know a golden moment of deep-abiding joy when Maria gets news of residency.  She will not need now to fear being separated from her son or leaving their life here.  But there had been a kind of equilibrium to the status quo that was removed with the “asylum seeker” status and somehow, in short order, you become ineligible for many of the support systems you have solely relied on for the duration of that long road home.  After filling in the same identical form fortnightly and monthly over so many years there are now new ones – Centrelink, ID, healthcare/concession cards, housing applications, job applications…

The most recent move sees Tekitah, Maria, Eddy and I in a cosy 3-bedroom on a busy Footscray road.  I unpacked the little house along with everything else and it has sat waiting for its moment… I had some idea of “unpacking” the desperate wisps and slips of papery prayer into the layers of our new compost bin. Turning crap to good purpose is good theology.  How can what’ we experience, for better or for worse, serve us going forward in material and immaterial ways… in substantive and transubstantiated ways?  I wanted to mark the end of the season that has been. Honoring it but saying clearly:
We are done. We are home.

Some how I didn’t get around to it yet, though I can’t say I knew…

This week Centrelink have cancelled Maria’s benefit and the vagaries of the hospitality industry see Tekitah looking for a new gig.  We are given to know that our understanding  of home and security remains a fragile one (and there are more forms to fill in).

So, our journey is not over yet.  We know that the communities that work are communities of necessity and we need each other.  We’re going to keep praying and telling stories and reflecting on what home is – personally and politically speaking –  a bit of sacred and ordinary radical hospitality.  Please know that you are welcome to join us here if you want to travel alongside.

Jan 067

The gorgeous Dusk Liney of Inspirit Creative recently ran a customised (pretty damn special) contemplative birthday for me down at Pipemakers Park. As she as gifted, so are we all. Please be encouraged to  use this for your own reflections on 2017. 

Pipemakers Park mosaic

Wurundjeri Garden 


This mosaic depicts Aboriginal life before European settlers arrived. Find a place around the mosaic to reflect on your own life this year. Create your own Mosaic/picture – using illustrations, colours or words – that reflects how you experienced 2017.

Capture the good, the bad, the ugly. What surprised you? What enlivened you? What challenged you? What were the unexpected gifts?

burning paper


Before you leave the Wurundjeri Garden, if there is any part of this year that you would like to leave behind, make your way to the fireplace.

Take a piece of paper, put that image, word or feeling down on paper, and burn it.

Childs feet

Early Settlers Garden


As you walk to the next station, pause and place your feet on the child’s footprints. Take a moment to be still and be present to your inner child.

Whisper to her what your heart yearns for her to hear.

Jan 031

One sided Table 

So much of the year is spent preparing food for others. In this moment, come and sit at the table. Think about the hospitality that you show to others and imagine the ways in which you can show that same beautiful hospitality to yourself.

What would it be like for the Divine to prepare a table for you? What would feed your soul? How can you show that hospitality to your soul this year?

Mum and baby under an apple tree

Take a walk over to the apple tree and think of an apple dish that captures that imagining. Write it on a sticker and place it on your clothes.

woman sitting in a fig tree Pipemakers park

Pipeworkers Garden

Dry Garden

Take in the fig tree, the succulents and the drought resistant plants. Each of these plants have survived dry, hot, tough conditions. It is actually in this landscape of lacking that they grow.

Sit here and acknowledge the dry places in your life. Think about the qualities that have grown in you within the dry parts of this year. Write them on a post it and stick it to the dry plant captures that quality.

Jan 073

Grapevine Colonnade

Then walk under the pipe colonnade shaded by the grapevines. Allow the coolness and shade to wash over those dry places. As you come to the end, sit with the sun mosaic.

Ask God / the Divine / the Sun to shine on you this year, to shine you with light and warmth. Name the desires of your heart and lay them at the Sun as offering. 

Picnic Pipemakers park

Picnic Circle

When you’re ready, come and find a place on the blankets and we’ll gather in a circle to reflect together.

leonard cohen

You are with me still.

Even though I have been removed, and my place does not recognise me. Even though I have filled my heart with stones. And my beloved says, I will wait a little while behind the curtain – no, I have waited too long. You are with me still. Though I scorched away the tears of return in the forced light of victory, your rebuke still comforts me, you signify yourself among the dangers. Saying, Use this fear to know me, fix this exile toward my return. Though I am unwept, it is your judgement parches me.  Though my praises for you are under ban, it is the balance of your mercy. And you are with me still. Saying, Search this out, it is you who have hidden yourself. Saying, Clear me in your troubled heart. Saying, I will come to you. Saying, I am here. Though I add membrane to membrane against your light, and heap up cities on the husk of your rebuke, when the sun and the moon are shining in the other pan, and you advance me through the solitude by such a kind degree, and you create the world before my eyes, and the one who hides in self-disgrace cannot say Amen, O slow to anger, you are with me, you are with me still.


excerpt from Book of Mercy, Leonard Cohen


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An act of public witness and liturgical protest in a response to the current crisis on Manus Island following the government’s closure of the island’s immigration detention centre.  Sunday 19 November 2017, Tim Watts, Labor MP Office, 97 Geelong Rd, Footscray

We are here today to stand in solidarity with men who the Australian Government have held on Manus Island in limbo for over four years. We are here today on the unceded land of the people of the Kulin Nation because on October 31 the Manus camp was officially “closed.”

We are here today because water, food and power have been cut off. Over 600 men have been abandoned. They are collecting water in rubbish bins. They are digging wells to survive. They are showering in the rain. And left starving and without medical care. Because they can no longer tolerate political games and human rights abuses.

There has been no plan. There has been no justice. Their lives are on the line. Men have stated: We can’t blame the sea for drowning people but we blame Australia for killing us. People need a genuine solution. Not to be shifted from one prison to another where their lives remain at risk.

We echo their calls for freedom and safety and call on the Australian government to bring people back to Australia immediately and provide safe resettlement. We want the government to know that we are watching this humanitarian emergency unfold and we do not accept the violence, the abuse, and the ongoing persecution of refugees.

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We hear stories of the men on Manus in their own voice. Raise our arms as they do in non-violent protest. We spell out SOS in cups in solidarity and symbolically of life-giving water denied. We make decorations together with our children and tell them stories… we want to teach our children justice. We make chains of the names of those we know on Manus and symbolically tear those chains. Felt and red lights denote the blood on the hands of our democratically elected Government who are treating people this way in our name.  We have barbed wire on our tree instead of tinsel – neither the welcome you thought you’d be given nor the home you hoped to find. We sing, to remember and be re-membered.  We make decorations, we recite, we pray, we sing… it feels like something. Wherever two or three are gathered… there is our hope.


Hold on (Love Makes A Way)

(tune: Keep your hand to the plough/Keep your eyes on the prize)

They are coming across the sea,
From their homes they have had to flee,
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We are here to sing and shout,
Why you keeping God’s children out?
We say love makes a way, hold on.

Hold on, hold on,

We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We say welcome the refugee
We say set all the people free
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We have room in our hearts to care
We have plenty enough to share
We say, love makes a way, hold on.


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I push the miscellany of moving to one side of the table. Housing applications, to-do lists, measuring tape, a stray key… the tissues can stay.  I light a candle.  I have to.  Nothing else makes sense. Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart.  It didn’t make much sense to take this on – planning a vigil, to add in an extra thing. What time or strength or capacity did I imagine I had? It’s a conceit for people to imagine the idea is mine or its execution.

I light a candle, teal, it transitions in colour from light to dark and I think of the waves. The overloaded boat you give up everything to catch – all that remains is you – skin, flesh, person, a life… alive. Unless the sea takes you.  You are rescued, you think saved, you are taken to a waiting place but it isn’t liminal or moving. It’s not a threshold to a new door.  It’s not a threshold to anything.  The door you knock on, pleading, cold, hungry, desperate, skin, flesh, person, alive… remains closed.



It’s hard to know how to respond when circumstances seem beyond understanding (such as Australia’s inhumane and fear-driven approach to asylum seekers and refugees).  It’s tempting to think ‘there’s nothing I can do’ or ‘nothing I do will make any difference’ and feel absolved of taking any action.  Both personal and political power are at play here.  The person I need to answer to is me.  Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something because I believe people are using their agency where they can – doctors, teachers, church and community leaders, yes even some politicians…  in speaking out you aren’t raising your voice alone but joining in a bigger chorus that are asking for the world to be different. Do you want the world to be different? Say so.  Even if it’s with only the cat watching and some “Radical Paint”.


What are Australian politicians saying about refugees?

“And so what I say to people when they are a little bit apprehensive about Australia taking more refugees, it’s really about what are the services we are going to provide, what communities are we going to put in and how are we going to integrate people into our community.

“These are beautiful people.

“I am so proud of humble country folk who are being part of the solution. We can do this, we can replicate this in many towns across Australia and it will bring so much good.”

Andrew Broad, National MP


… the current refugee crisis [is] the defining humanitarian issue of our time “and a challenge Australia has all too often failed to rise to”.  While Australia’s refugee debate was toxic, there were points of potential consensus between political parties. “I believe we can build out from these areas of consensus to increase the positive impact Australia can have on the international refugee crisis.”

TimWatts, Labor MP


“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence. These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


“This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90 per cent of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken — I have been very open about it — is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down — the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities.”

Malcolm Turnbull


“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them …

They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here… They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them.”

Malcolm Turnbull


“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,”… “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


“The difficulty of course on Manus is that this Government never put anybody on Manus. We inherited a situation where 50,000 people had come on 800 boats and it was a terrible, terrible situation. The deal that was struck between Prime Ministers O’Neil and Rudd at the time provided for no arrangement for what would happen to the people the end. It was open-ended and we have the mess to clean-up.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


“You’re talking about those that have been found not to be genuine refugees. What should they do? They should go back home. Because if we allow people who are not refugees to come here, we then displace people who have a legitimate claim to make of persecution like the Yazidis we brought in most recently under the 12,000 Syrian and Iraq program. So if you want to displace genuine refugees you allow those in that are here simply for an economic claim.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


 “The loss of one life is one too many, and I’m determined to get people off Manus, [and] to do it in such a way that we don’t restart boats.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


 “To start off, you open up the camps. You bring transparency, you actually process these people, and you start actually finding a place for these people to go. I think that is a huge change from what we’re doing at the moment.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration


“Well we’re the Opposition, so we’re calling on the Government. Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that these refugees have access to essential services- including security, health services, medical services- and we want the Government to be upfront. The Turnbull Government must work with PNG to guarantee the safety and security of these people and these men should immediately relocate to alternative accommodation in East Lorengau and the other facilities so they can access water, food, shelter, and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

Propagate love not fear if you see something beautiful, say something.

ladder of inference stephanie crowley

As someone who lives in community I love getting my hands on “new” resources that help navigate that tricky territory of communication and expectations. I can frequently assume I know what’s going on from data, interpretation, assumptions, generalisations, conclusions… I’m a pro ladder climber – often this is fine as long as its sensitive, empathetic, preferably based out of relationship and knowing… as a personal assistant it’s great for anticipating what my team will need and preparing for it but sometimes I’m in a hurry, I skip some rungs or climb them quickly and am taking action based on decisions I’ve made that haven’t necessarily been consultative or correct.

Rehabilitative Pro tips:

  • cultivate curiosity and ask questions – is there data available I could access that I haven’t?
  • we like stories. We like stories to have a beginning a middle and an end. Sometimes a ladder climb can be the result of trying resolve or control a situation, for yourself or someone else, that is still in progress. Take a breath and consider whether your current circumstances as they are have something to teach you. There are no shortcuts. Sit with the tension of the breadth of possibility and DON’T DO OR DECIDE ANYTHING.
  • listen carefully and reflectively – check in whether what you think you understand is the message the other person is trying to deliver
  • be self-aware – sit with the initial gut/emotional response. Where does it comes from? Does what you are thinking and feeling lead you to want to “fill in the gaps” of what you don’t know?
  • good data = good information, good information = good decisions
  • there is no substitute for attaining clarity like good communication – use morning pages or catch ups more than you think you need