I just got this message from a friend:
Tomorrow morning (Friday 12 February 2016), Dorothy will accompany “Mohammed” and his family to the Dept of Immigration and Border Protection.
The family has been asked to attend the Dept so that “Baby Johnny”, the newest – and Australian-born – member of the family can be issued with a visa.
We hope this will be a straightforward, administrative exercise – perhaps confirming the identity of Baby Johnny?
But what if it’s something else?
What if its aim is to ensure that, if and when Johnny’s parents are given their marching orders to go back to where they came from, or even deported to some other place, Johnny’s existence will not be allowed to hold up the speedy exit of the family.
What sorts of visas will be offered the parents – whose pre-existing visa has expired? A TPV? Which may mean that they can be sent from the country at any time? Or a SHEV? Which could send families, many of whose children are now enrolled in school, to other States, including remote corners of those other States, for a ‘sentence-like’ period of time?
How long is the Australian community prepared to tolerate this cruel ‘processing’ of innocent human beings – who have no say about their futures, and that is being carried out behind a veil of secrecy?
The asylum-seeking families we have come to know and regard as our friends are trying desperately to stitch together some semblance of normal family life. Despite language difficulties (they have had no free formal instruction in English), they are trying to find work , when permitted to do so; they are setting up house at the low end of the private rental market; and many of their children, enrolled in our schools, are demonstrating their keenness to learn, voraciously consuming every bit of knowledge to which they are introduced by teachers who actually ‘give a damn’.
Are their fragile lives soon to be disrupted yet again?
It’s a fair question. And maybe we should add to it: What has this country become? We stand by while our government is prepared to condemn children, born in Australia to refugee parents, to be sent to hellish conditions in Nauru.
Doctors have said clearly that sending children to detention on Nauru is child abuse. So the question for Malcolm Turnbull is this: “Will you deliberately condemn these children to child abuse, or will you show some human decency?”