Last night I met a young man fluent in three languages despite never having had the opportunity to go to school. He spoke to me from the heart and I was spell bound but gutted by his story.
He wants to work but he can’t. He should have made a wide circle of friends. But he has none. He should be having the time of his life but he isn’t. He should have a home and a country but he doesn’t. You see he has no choices because he has no freedom to pursue any of things we take for granted in this country.
He can’t do the normal things a young person should, because he is touched with the curse of being an asylum seeker. He has spent three long hard years of his youth on Manos Island, courtesy of the Australian Government. He spent his youth escaping persecution in his own country and then rode the wave of desperation to find any country who would take him. He has seen things that none of our young should ever see. Somehow he ended up in the hell hole of Australian detention.
Now, his life which should have been full of potential, is slipping away with suicide attempts, despair and no end in sight for his entrapment.
So what does the Australian government do to help him start his life? Absolutely nothing. He lives temporarily, without hope in community detention in Dandenong – treated for his depression which no amount of medical intervention will ever cure while he lives in a state of limbo. Despite the widespread closure of detention centres – seventeen according to Mr Turnbull this morning – many more still exist.
This young man is one of the ‘lucky’ ones. He’s off Manus Island. More than 850 others can only hope for illness or death, so they too can leave. So their only choice is self-harm in the worst possible way. There are many like him who are trapped in detention not just on Manus Island but in Australia as well – with no idea, if and when, a decision will ever be made as to their future.
A murderer is given more rights and due consideration as to his/her fate than an asylum seeker in this country.
These people are human beings who deserve to be resettled to Australia right now. Like it or not – they are our responsibility. It’s not hard to make a decision and make it happen. And it must happen before we and future generations of Australians bear the guilt of their treatment on our conscious for decades to come.
Mr Turnbull, you said this morning, “We have been dealing with Labor’s legacy, their legacy of shame.” It’s easy to blame others but it’s now your responsibility. This is under your job description. This is what you are being held accountable for.
Is my smug middle class sensibility shaken to the core? You bet.
So now Kelly O’Dwyer, as my representative in Parliament and you, Malcolm Turnbull as my country’s leader, I want to know what you are going to do about releasing all 850 odd asylum seekers on Manos Island and when.
The Australian people want an end date, but more importantly the asylum seekers need it- right now!