Archive for November, 2017

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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

candlelight birthday dinner roses

be converted
to the otherness
of the other

they do not talk like you
or silence like you

they do not move like you
or do still like you

they do not think like you
or do thoughtless like you

you cannot assign your meaning
to another’s actions

they are other
and their meaning is other


Talitha Fraser

I’ve been feeling a bit defeated of late, going through the motions but not feeling like there’s any progress or that anything changes. From the personal to the political the treatment of refugees in this country feels appalling. Going from yet another house inspection to today’s rally (Rally + Occupy for Manus: End the Siege, Bring Them Here) felt like “another thing”, an action that might not be progress, an action that might not make a difference… Difference is a funny thing. Because as I walked with these people, sat with with people, sang with these people… I realised they are heartbroken too. Evil was named and called out. It was planning meeting, protest, sing-in, sit-in… the message from the front is that we must take courage from one another. We sit with Manus… how does Manus sit with us? We are angry and we are hopeful. We are not alone and there is work to do.

This is our happening on our watch. Recurring rally’s are happening every Friday in solidarity with the Manus men. We are living through a time of extraordinary refugee and migrant crisis, Australia is 87 times the size of Jordan and they are playing host to 2.7 million displaced persons. Developing regions host 86% of refugees, globally 1 in 200 refugees is a child. This isn’t a thing that’s going away anytime soon. We need not to only be defending the basic human rights of these 600 on Manus but countless others. Build the world you want to live in and get amongst it.

#BringThemHere #LetThemStay