reffo kids

The federal opposition spokesman for immigration Scott Morrison called for a register for refugees released into the community on bridging visas; they would have to report to police like a sex offender or prisoner on bail or remand. So loaded is the term “register” that a caller to talk back radio called the Sri Lankan refugees “kiddie fiddlers”. This is successful obfuscation on the part of conservative forces.

Tonight’s news coverage showed an Italian Australian citizen expressing the opinion that these refugees should not expect a free go; how many of our local Italian community have conservative even fascist opinions? Thankfully two members of the opposition Washer and Broadbent thought that Morrison’s initiative went too far; someone posited that the next suggestion would be painting a big “A” for ASYLUM SEEKER on people’s shirts.

Mr Abetz asserted that the government tried only to accept some narratives of migration. My story includes going to primary school as a five year old, of being assaulted by other school kids, of them trying to rip my pants off, having “go back to where you came, reffo kid” shouted at me.

It is an insecure cultural dynamic when a population that is, at most, five generations old, attempting to bolster its own insecure tenure by challenging that of newcomers. An indigenous person described us all as newcomers, a cultural job lot, all desperate, needy, mendicant.

Descendants of convicts inherit a tragic history of abuse and neglect; we have intermarried with indigenous people, who are still not mentioned formally in the Constitution document. None of this wrong-doing entitles anyone to ignore our international obligations as an affluent south-eastern Asian country. It takes little wisdom to become aware that most applications for acceptance as citizens are granted; how much mental damage do we want to subject these pre-citizens? If we do not care for them, at least take the pragmatic view that minimum damage in the initial internment phase means less care is required when they finally settle.

We can not surely be so amnesiac as to forget SIEV-X, the boat that sank off the Indonesian coast with a loss of 250+ lives; nor the appalling spectacle of people sewing their lips together, a horrifically accurate image of the voicelessness of these people; nor the daily update of the family locked in apathetic detention under conservative administration, with two pre-adolescent boys developing terrible mental symptoms, as the 80’s song has it: “slipping gently into mental illness”. You would not wish it on an enemy.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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