The following is a letter from Justice for Refugees SA
Last year twelve former Australians of the Year wrote a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling on the government to act over the “human disaster” at the former refugee detention centre on Manus Island. This treatment does not represent who we are as Australians, or indeed as human beings.
This Australia Day many people are thinking about Indigenous dispossession. It’s also an opportunity to think about people who are imprisoned, yet have done nothing wrong, committed no crime, and who are even denied a trial, fair or otherwise. Especially consider the plight of refugees and people seeking asylum, people who, in earlier times, have contributed so much to make Australia great.
It is a good time to consider Australian values. Where is our Australia “fair”? What is happening to our Australian values? Whatever happened to the Fair Go for all? We are losing the right to transparent government, to habeus corpus, to fair trial, to nobody being above the law. We are being deliberately divided. The vulnerable members of our communities are being trampled on and manipulated as political playthings. Minorities are being scapegoated.
In history’s page let every stage advance Australia fair
The tune to those words we sing was written by Tommy Tycho, a Jewish refugee who came to Australia after experiencing, as a 15-year-old boy, the horrors of a forced labour camp during WWII. Australia gave him a chance to shine, to contribute.
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share.
In the lead up to Australia Day, Rural Australians for Refugees has launched a letter writing campaign. Justice4Refugees are supporting the campaign. It’s time to take a stance, for all good people to stand up and take action. So please consider writing to your MPs and Senators, and city and regional papers.
The letter cited above was signed by Australians of the Year
2015 Rosie Batty
2013 Ita Buttrose
2011 Simon McKeon
2010 Patrick McGorry
2009 Mick Dodson
2007 Tim Flannery
2005 Fiona Wood
2003 Fiona Stanley
2000 Gustav Nossal
1997 Peter Doherty
1996 John Yu
1983 Robert de Castella
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,”
Jesus – quoting from the prophet Isaiah – Luke 4:18