Four years

I’m crying, but it’s not sadness.

My husband Chris and I have been following the US election with increasing horror today. We both chose not to speak openly in the car on the way home, because our kids were with us. We exchanged a few careful words, and I asked Chris to drive. He knew without asking that I was too upset to drive safely.

TJ fell asleep.

Louisette is four years old, a pre-schooler in a Peppa Pig shirt and a baseball cap. She picked up on the vibe and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Chris looked alarmed as I opened my mouth to explain today’s election: “A country a long long way away has just chosen their President. I don’t think they made a good choice. He’s… mean. I think now he will be able to be mean to more people.”

Louisette was silent, thinking.

“It’s a very very long way away,” said Chris.

Damage control.

“Yes,” I said. “On the other side of the world. And there are lots of other politicians who will also be making the laws and all that kind of thing. The whole system of government is designed especially so that if someone mean is the president, they can’t do too many bad things.”

“A long, long way away,” said Chris.

“That man doesn’t hurt people on purpose,” I said. “But when people ask him for help, he says no.”

“That country is all the way on the other side of the world,” said Chris. “Really super far away.”

“And you know what?” I said. “I bet all the kind people in that country—and even us, right here in Australia—will be extra super kind and we will look after all the people who need help.”

“How?” she said.

I’d just received a “Really Useful Gifts” magazine in the mail. They have a wide range of physical items—a goat, a well, a school—that are labelled with prices eg for $50 you can buy a goat so a family has a source of milk, cheese, and future income (if they have a boy and a girl goat…).

When we got home and sorted out the inevitable chaos of bags and drinks of milk and the parental win of transferring TJ into his bed without waking him, I showed Louisette the magazine.



Louisette has an allowance of $1 per week. Sometimes she buys a 50 cent lolly. A lot of the time she saves it up. Sometimes she dips into her savings and buys herself a toy.

I steered Lizzie towards the things she’d understand best in the magazine: A school. Chickens. A vegetable garden (she always claims to love vegetables, although when we put them on her plate she says things like, “I meant in Summer I like them; not today.”)

She was excited that she could give these presents to someone she’d never met. I told her she had $20 saved up, and that she could spend as little or as much of it as she liked. I told her I would put in the same amount of money that she did.

We kept coming back to chickens. And a small business. And a pre-school. And adult literacy (she was shocked at the concept of someone who was all grown up but still couldn’t read. Reading is hard). And a vegetable garden.

I warned her that if she got all those things her money would be gone. All of it.

“What about my flower?” she asked.

I remembered it well: A little plastic thing with a smiling face that bobbed back and forth. It was the first toy she bought for herself with her own money.

“Actually,” I admitted, “that’s broken. It cost $3. So if you bought all of these things, you would have to wait three weeks with absolutely no lollies or buying anything. Then you could buy a new flower.”

“Okay,” she said. “Then I will buy no lollies for weeks and weeks, and I will buy this”— A school building—”and this”—a clinic—”and all those other things too.”

That’s when my eyes started to mist over. I counted up the cost. $80. Every bit of me wanted to buy it all with my own money, and let her keep her allowance. “That’s a lot of things, Louisette. You’d get no allowance at all for weeks and weeks and weeks.”

She nodded gravely. “You’d get no money at all—not even one single dollar—for weeks and weeks. Not until your birthday.”

An unimaginable distance.

“Yes,” she said. “That’s what I want to do.”

A lot of people feel scared of a lot of things right now. We feel helpless.

I can’t change the world, but I can change it for a few of the people who need it the most. I can be kind. I can learn about other cultures and get to know people who aren’t exactly like me—Mexicans. Homosexuals. Muslims. Trump supporters.

I can find out what we have in common, even if it takes some digging sometimes.

I can change an entire village in another part of the world by giving it a school, clinic, small business opportunity, and chickens.

I can teach my children to respond to fear by being more kind, by making more friends, and by giving more of whatever we have to give.

Four years feels like a long time. For my daughter, it’s a lifetime. But in a world that seems to be getting darker and meaner… there she is. There I am. There you are.

The world is a beautiful place.



If you’d like your money to be more effective where it’s needed most, skip the charity gimmicks and give money to a reputable company like World Vision or Oxfam.



Same story but without the Trump stuff (so it’s more shareable):

My four-year old daughter Louisette was thrilled to discover that she could use her allowance to buy presents for people she’d never met—and her presents could help them have better food, water, and jobs!
Her allowance is $1 per week and she’d saved $20. I told her that I’d give the same amount of money she did, and we looked at the “Build a Village” range and some other things that made sense to her, like chickens and adult literacy. She is learning to read and she knows it‘s hard work but super important… especially with a mother who’s a writer!

We had to choose so carefully. She paused and asked me about a toy she wanted to buy. I told her that it cost $3 so if she wanted to give her whole savings away she would have no money at all for three whole weeks and then she could buy the toy. 

“Well,” she said. “I want to buy the school, and the clinic, and the vegetable garden, and the chickens, and the pre-school, and the one that teaches a grown-up to read. So if I have no money at all for weeks and weeks and weeks, can I do that?”

“That would be a very, very long time,” I told her. “All the way to your birthday… with no money at all.”

“And then I can give them all those things?” she asked.

“Then that’s what I really real
ly want to do.”

Louisette loves to dress as SuperGirl, and pretend to help people. Today she made a difference to people in the real world.


An Immodest Proposal

*This is likely to be upsetting to people suffering from the effects of violence.*

IMG_0235 (2)



An Immodest Proposal


For Preventing Poor Individuals in Non-Australian Lands From Being A Burden to the International Community, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Australian People and to Other Nations Struggling to Cope with their Comparatively Low Levels of War, Disease, and Oppression.



Dear Immigration Minister,

I have chosen not to address you by your Christian name for two reasons. Firstly, because in your policies and speeches you are indistinguishable from a long line of Immigration Ministers before you, and Secondly because the use of the word “Christian” in connection with your office might give this letter the appearance of Satire.

We certainly wouldn’t want that.

I find myself struggling with the task of addressing you at all. The words “Immigration” and “Minister” are as ludicrous as the word “Christian” in connection with your official duties, since the word “Immigration” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country” and the word “Minister” is defined as the verb “to attend to the needs of (someone)”. This falsely implies that your career involves attending to the needs of those who must live permanently in a new country.

It is clear from your actions and from the actions of your predecessors that your primary task is to prevent the needy (specifically those who have “come across the sea”) from gaining entrance to Australia’s “boundless plains” – or indeed to any grain of the “Golden Soil” of this nation “Young and Free”.

I applaud your ongoing effort to avoid the dangerous precedent of allowing foreign invaders to come into contact with our Golden and/or Red and/or Brown Soil. Although increasing numbers of asylum seekers(1) are departing from warring, starving, or dangerous countries due to humanity’s pathological addiction to the twin evils of hope and survival, you have successfully stopped the majority of asylum seeker boats from touching our invaluable dirt.

It is very efficient of you to also keep most of these desperate individuals from touching our sea borders, so that their deaths on the ocean are legally nothing to do with us. Better yet, Australia has made a brave stand against People Smugglers by actually reducing the number of refugees accepted into Australia(2), including those using the infinitely more popular(3) route of airplane flight. This in turn increases the number of boats, which means that some people smugglers have probably lost Several lower-level staff in drowning accidents just out of sight of our Sovereign Lands. I’m sure they’re terribly put out.

Well done. You may not have stopped the boats from existing, or stopped people smugglers from exploiting the desperate, or stopped the wars and torment that are creating the current record-breaking numbers of refugees(1) all around Our World, but it must be said that a boat filled with dead refugees on the bottom of the ocean has most definitely been Stopped.

Once again, Well Done. You have protected our innocent Australian citizens, who are Most Terribly Vulnerable to feeling Briefly Disturbed by the sight of drowned children. If asylum seekers made it onto our golden dirt, that could potentially lead to a state in which the slogan “Stop the boats” might be understood by its truest meaning – to wit, “Sink the boats” (5).

Of course, some boats do not sink, even after their dangerously long journey is doubled in length due to their being turned back by our Heroic Navy. Those boats are not wasted! Not on your watch, Minister! Sea-going vessels returned intact and under guard to their country of origin build friendly trade relations between Australia and those military-based dictatorships that prefer to personally kill their citizens rather than letting them drown out of sight (5).

Well done on your compromise solution of stopping some boats by sending them to Davy Jones’ Lock-Up, and stopping others by sending their human-like contents back to be tortured and killed in a place where any remaining relatives can also be tortured by proxy, or perhaps drawn out and killed in person thanks to our most timely intervention (5).

Since I am congratulating you, I shall also congratulate you on effectively eliminating queue jumpers by ensuring there is often no legal path through which asylum seekers can safely and legally arrive in Australia (12). No one can jump a queue that doesn’t exist, can they?

The large number of asylum seeker drownings and deaths(5) reveal the drowned individuals’ innate lack of planning and survival ability. If they had predicted Total Economic and Social Collapse of their home nations, or had arranged to be born into a different ethnic group, sea level, gender, or orientation, they would not have felt the need for a perilous voyage at all.

It is a testament to the hardiness of Australian government ministers such as yourself that we have lost only one Australian Prime Minister to the sea (13), while refugees such as the three-year old Alan (known as Aylan) Kurdi are among some hundreds of drowned asylum seekers (14). People are perfectly capable of swimming the English Channel, so it is obviously just laziness and/or poor parenting that allows three-year olds like Alan to falter when crossing the various oceans they must face in their path to safety.

Speaking of drowning, our Prime Minister Holt contrived to drown within sight of shore, while the vast majority of drowned asylum seekers are foolish enough to drown on the open ocean while attempting to reach a nation that they believe values human rights. Not only are their swimming skills lacking, but their beliefs in the notion of Universal Human Rights is simply wrong. Only people with the Good Sense to be born in safe location are Worthy of full Human Rights such as the right to work, to be free of torture, to be locked up only if found guilty, or to survive at all.

Rather cleverly, you have worked hard to ensure that these drowned individuals are almost entirely kept away from Australian TV screens and therefore from Australian living rooms (15), where true Citizens of our Nation might accidentally confuse them with the Humans for whom Human Rights might someday apply. Best to keep them hidden! Congratulations on the wise investment in offshore detention, where asylum seekers, like naughty children, are neither seen nor heard. This helps maintain that important distinction between Human and Non-Human that keeps our country from developing into a more multicultural society. It is well worth increasing our budget deficit to pour endless money into an awkward and never-ending debacle, so long as Australians don’t suffer from our peculiar malady of guilt over Those Individuals we spend billions to avoid helping (9). A budget must be full of sacrifice, and we sacrifice a great deal of money in order to sacrifice the freedoms of asylum seekers.

There hasn’t been an invasion of our precious dirt so determined since the year 1788, when boats brimming with Diseased Criminals changed Australia forever. In order to follow in that tradition, we would have to do away with our flood of asylum seekers in favour of those who are more inclined to carry small pox and/or murder weapons.

Small pox is difficult to acquire in this day and age, but there are plenty of criminals that should perhaps be imported to Australia in order to reinvigorate the traditional system of Australian Immigration. Unfortunately Muammar Qaddafi, Slobodan Milošević, Saddam Hussein, and Augusto Pinochet are all unavailable due to their deaths at the hands of individuals who Disagreed with their Methods of Government. A truly courageous, innovative government must bravely face the risk of such censure! Your own courageous stand against Human Rights has drawn global recognition, as it should (11).

This heroic array of world leaders would surely add to Australia’s cultural landscape, but instead we are subjected to an influx of less famous individuals fleeing their homes, families, and livelihoods in order to avoid the above characters and those like them. Worse, those whose homes, families or livelihoods have been destroyed tend not to invest heavily in their new Nation of Residence – at least until such time as they are Released into Society (6), which is of course Unthinkable. Giving these individuals the ability to move about freely and perhaps Earn a Living would blur that important line between Asylum Seekers and Humans.

This is where my Immodest proposal shines in its efficient simplicity. I flatter myself that you understand already that such an Elegant Solution to a Global Issue cannot possibly inspire modesty.

The Australian People are repeatedly shocked and saddened at the live export of cattle and sheep to distant and/or unsavoury locations around the world. At the same time, we have an overabundance of human cattle, many of them young and therefore ideal for the premier export market.

It might appear a little cruel to simply kill all of them, but it’s the most efficient way to solve the Asylum Seeker problem. Naturally we are Wise Enough to keep the best breeding stock alive.

Weaker governments might set up a raffle system, whereby applicants to safety and freedom have some small chance of reaching a new home. Weaker governments might even give in to the Repeated Pleas of their own Citizens (16) to process Asylum Seekers Swiftly, Transparently, and In Australia. Weaker Governments might make fast, easy budget savings by accepting the hundreds of offers of free accommodation for Asylum Seekers from the Australian People (17). However, this kind of practice might encourage the persistent mould of hope, which must be bleached and scoured until none remains. Otherwise individuals who have lost their savings, homes, jobs, freedoms, and assorted loved ones will never learn to accept their lot in life and/or death. We mustn’t encourage them to think or feel like Normal People.

Instead of a “Life Lottery” there should be more wide-reaching education about the God-given Lottery of Geography. If a person is born in a place that fails to grant them status as a Citizen – a Rohingya in Myanmar, or a person whose nation is vanishing outright due to the side effects of global warming – they must not be accepted as a citizen anywhere else in the world. Such behaviour disturbs the Natural Order and could results in yet more individuals Falsely Categorised as human.

Similarly, if a girl is sold into sexual slavery, she should be taught to appreciate her unique perspective in that ancient industry, and perhaps to anticipate the experience of having her first period and then her first pregnancies, assuming she should live that long. Otherwise she might get ideas above her station and become unhappy – much as my own daughter becomes upset when she discovers my chocolate stash and I don’t let her eat it all. The main lesson here is not to allow children to believe in a different life.

Obviously a sex slave’s captors are unlikely to take the time to train him or her in more than one skill, and the pleasure of their customers must always take precedence over their own desensitisation. That is where our government bravely steps forward, erecting billboards abroad to proclaim Australia’s increasingly famous racism, and stopping hundreds of genuine refugees (5) from ever reaching shore anywhere on Earth. All of these initiatives are specifically designed to extinguish any small, inconvenient hope the Geographically Challenged might mistakenly possess.

I confess I felt a little sick mentioning my funny, friendly, Frozen-obsessed four year old in the same paragraph as child sex slaves, but that just shows that I have my own geography-based cross to bear. I’m sure the mothers who lose their daughters to international child prostitution rings soon adjust to that Unusual Career, even if it wasn’t what they originally planned for their babies. If it were not so, ignoring their plight would be too cruel even for a First World Country such as ourselves.

Hopefully the parents of boys likely to be drafted into military service before they reach puberty will be similarly responsible, advising their toddlers to design a realistic five-year plan that includes their own abduction and various gunshot or stabbing wounds inflicted by their playmates. It is very much the same kind of experience as the resignation I myself feel when I tell my own child than he really must wear pants despite our mutual dislike of that article of clothing. I stick to my guns, and I expect child soldiers to do the same.

I felt a little sick mentioning my chatty, charming, chubby-cheeked one-year old in the same paragraph as child soldiers, but that just shows that I have my own geography-based cross to bear. I’m sure the mothers who lose their sons to roving militias soon adjust to that Unusual Career, even if it wasn’t what they originally planned for their babies. If it were not so, ignoring their plight would be too cruel even for a First World Country such as ourselves.


Children should never make their own choices. Their minds and bodies belong to their governments, and if they should manage to avoid death in their own land or at sea, they have ipso facto surrendered their bodies and minds to our wiser Australian government. The UN has been kind enough to describe our treatment of refugees as “torture” (11) which just goes to show how accurately our detention camps mirror the conditions our most Asylum Seekers have experienced in their own countries of origin.

Having said all of that, there will always be a small number of individuals who are unable to completely vanquish the growth of hope and/or their instinct to survive, and a small number of those determined and hardy individuals will get perilously close to Australia and an Actual Liveable Existence.

This is not a disaster, but an opportunity!

In this age of cooking shows and political correctness, Australians are longing to do something that is both creative and overtly xenophobic. The one thing all Australians love about non-Australians is their food. Taking that love to its natural conclusion will feed Australia’s hunger for novel cuisine, not to mention alleviating our “white guilt” as well as our accidental hint of appreciation for other nations. Best of all, it will save thousands of cows and sheep from a deeply unpleasant and dangerous sea journey! No one wants our animals to suffer that way, and far too many sweet innocent creatures have drowned and been lost forever.

All we have to do is treat our Asylum Seekers as nature’s own GM-free farm. We don’t need to hunt them or even feed them, since so many are already weak from malnutrition and grateful for the least scraps of humanity they’re given – why, our Asylum Seekers stay in detention for well over a year on average, and they’re so unused to human kindness that even Basic Medical Care is a privilege they’re no longer accustomed to. Many are denied sufficient drinking water and/or time enough to shower (4). Since asylum seekers are already treated like animals, the transition to meat product will be a smooth one.

This will be a great economic boon to Australia. Not only will our own local meat prices plummet, saving households a great deal of money in their grocery bill each week, but our live meat exports could be expanded overnight – and all without any upsetting cruelty to animals! The innate profitability of living asylum seekers (6) has not been enough to bring them home to Australia, but the profitability of their flesh is sure to motivate all Australians to lobby until we finally welcome our fair share (7) of the world’s refugees.

Asylum Seekers, on the whole, are an excellent lean white meat – although since refugees come from literally every walk of life, there are plenty of fattier, juicier meats on offer as well as the usual “heart smart” stock. Anyone can become a Refugee!

My own children are naturally slender, and as a result would be best suited to become the chief ingredient of a hearty stew. They could also be boiled down into an excellent natural meat stock.

I confess the idea of eating my own children makes me feel a little ill. Given that natural reluctance, we must take care in our Immigration Detention camps that any low-cost meat gleaned from asylum seeker children should be shipped to a different shore. I recommend shipping all food-grade Asylum Seekers to the mainland for consumption, since Australian Citizens no longer fear asylum seeker children once they have ceased to draw breath. I freely admit that this will add to the production costs of the meat, however since the “meat” has already been flown or shipped back and forth across oceans and from Offshore Detention Centre to Offshore Detention Centre while alive, the relatively minor shipping cost of the dead children will be quickly balanced by the sale of that meat. Since the meat is likely to quickly become a luxury item, I recommend adding GST to the product before it hits shops. Adding GST to the product later will create the appearance of a cynical price hike, and might enrage Australian citizens.

But the true Market Strength of asylum seekers is that a disproportionate number are women and children. The children are perfect for all your favourite veal dishes from Warm Winter Roasts to Summer Salads. For Australia Day, a little boy or girl’s leg can be sliced horizontally to make delicious Miniature Butterfly Roasts at a tenth of the price of similar-quality lamb shanks.

Asylum seekers already make excellent Breeding Stock. They often come equipped with several children, and only the strongest survive long enough to be put into Immigration Detention in the first place. Women who aren’t actively breeding may still end up participating in the program, since the Transfield Company running our camps reports the current rate of sexual assault to be One Attack Every Four Months under their Care (10). Many of those assaults are wasted, since they are Perpetrated on Children, but it is likely that several will still result in pregnancy – and a mother who is tormented daily by the sight of her attacker/guard is less likely to protest when her child is taken on the inevitable one-way Abattoir Excursion.

This renewable meat supply is thus far being wasted, particularly considering that the Transfield Contract to run our detention centres is worth $1.2 billion over twenty months (9). The asylum seekers themselves are making every effort to reduce the Financial Burden of their own existence by engaging in attempts at self-harm, on average, every four days (10), as reported by Transfield. This proves that Asylum Seekers are fundamentally Considerate Individuals who will perfectly understand the good sense of my proposal.

The constant adrenalin and pummelling from beatings and self-harm tenderises the meat, making it ideal for your Australian/International stir fry fusion dishes. The roasted meat of a young asylum seeker child is so tasty as a sandwich filler the following day that you’ll wish you could eat nothing but Abusive Guards’ Leftovers!

But of course this era of Thrilling New Cooking Opportunities can’t stop there. Asylum seekers make excellent casseroles, stroganoffs, risottos, pasta dishes, and savoury pies. Imagine the popularity of a reality cooking show focused entirely on the innovative methods of preparing a Hitherto Largely Untasted source of Lean White Meat!

Once again, the best recipe ideas come straight from the Immigration Detention Centres themselves. Every so often an individual who manages to find the endurance to get to Australia – nearly – loses their last spark of hope behind Australia-funded barbed wire, at which point they recognise their true place in this world. It isn’t under the table, like a dog begging for scraps. No! They deserve pride of place on the table, Cooked and Plated to Perfection.

And so it is that, every so often, a refugee turns their very Last Feeble Spark of Hope into a literal fire, and sets themself on fire. Helping those in need is an Australian trait, and nowhere is it expressed more fully than when someone who once dreamed of becoming An Australian Citizen chooses instead to pre-cook their own body. In this manner he or she saves time for housewives and househusbands who are already Overworked and Pushed for Time; often exhausted from spending all their time looking after and feeding their own non-drowned, non-slaughtered children.

The genius part of this cooking method is that the charred individual generally stays alive for some days before dying of their wounds. This keeps their meat fresh as it slow-cooks over several days.

Rather appropriately, this innovative self-cooking method tends to bring the Burned Individual to Mainland Australia just in time to be given medical treatment that isn’t quite timely enough to keep them from expiring soon afterwards.

In this manner, they get to touch Australia’s Golden Soil in the most thorough method possible – by burial.

Personally, I recommend the one possible action that’s even more Australian than burying yet another dead Asylum Seeker. I confess I’m inspired by their own final act in this world.

Could there be anything more Australian than throwing a few Asylum Seekers on the Barbie?


Yours Sincerely,


A Human Being




  1. 2015 likely to break records for forced displacement – study “The global refugee total, which a year ago was 19.5 million, had as of mid-2015 passed the 20 million threshold (20.2 million) for the first time since 1992. Asylum applications meanwhile were up 78 per cent (993,600) over the same period in 2014. And the numbers of internally displaced people jumped by around 2 million to an estimated 34 million.”
  2.     2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile – East Asia and the Pacific

“In Australia, restrictive policy changes introduced previously were further reinforced       by the coalition Government elected in September 2013. The introduction of   (regional) offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in 2012, with no  prospect of durable settlement in Australia, was combined with ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ to implement the Government’s policy of intercepting and returning boats to           Indonesia.

The new Government reduced the humanitarian programme from 20,000 resettlement places in the fiscal year 2012-2013 to 13,750 places in 2014-2015.”

  • Boat Arrivals Fact Sheet

“The number of people arriving by boat in Australia is very small. In 2010-11, Australia received 11,491 asylum applications. Less than half of these (5,175) were from asylum seekers who arrived by boat. Over the same period, 2,696 Protection Visas were granted to refugees who arrived by boat. This is just 1.3 per cent of the 213,409 people who migrated to Australia during the year.”


In 2009/2010, 80% of boat arrivals were deemed to be genuine refugees, and only 3% of asylum seekers arrived by boat (ie “boat people” are an incredibly minor part of the issue, and are usually genuine refugees).


  1. Open Letter: Living in the hell called Nauru

            “Drinking water is hardly found here. Sometimes we can find no water even for taking pills. You need to wait until a meal time. Toilets are very dirty because they are cleaned only once a week. Sometimes, recycle bins are full and remain for several days. Unlike what is claimed, here we have no health standard. A traffic of mice and poisonous millipedes has become normal in our camp. It is full of flies.”

  • Immigration policy in 2014: Reza Barati’s death was a low point, and just the beginning   reza-baratis-death-was-a-low-point-and-just-the-beginning

A summary of 2014 for asylum seekers in Australia: “Under Australia’s watchful eye,     asylum seekers face an environment of intimidation, violence, self-harm and procedural uncertainty.”


  1. Malcolm Fraser savages Scott Morrison’s new asylum seeker laws and senators who passed them   morrisons-new-asylum-seeker-laws-and-senators-who-passed-them-20141210-124bp1.html

Former PM Malcolm Fraser is appalled at the recent Migration Bill and the powers it bestows upon the Immigration Minister (including secrecy and the ability to knowingly return people to a place where they are likely to be tortured).

 Scott Morrison may gloat but asylum seekers’ boats haven’t really stopped  but-asylum-seekers-take-more-boats-than-ever?CMP=share_btn_fb

The “stop the boats” policy is putting more people in danger (the most vulnerable are ignored because they are forced to go and risk death elsewhere).

  • ‘Stopping the boats’ a fiction as Australia grows ever more isolationist on asylum

According to the UN, the reason there are less people arriving in Australia by boat is             because the “stop the boats” policy is causing more to die at sea. A more effective             method of reducing people smuggling and needless death would be to create better             legal channels where possible (but for many of the most desperate asylum seekers,             there IS no legal path to safety because their own government wants them dead).

  • Australia hands over 37 intercepted asylum seekers to Sri Lankan navy

Sri Lankan asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka were immediately (and predictably)    arrested.

“Less than two years ago, the Australian government’s own statistics showed that             about 90% of boat arrivals, including those from Sri Lanka, were judged to be in need    of protection. Yet suddenly, under a secret process on a boat on the high seas, with no        legal oversight, only one of 38 is judged to need protection.”

  • Asylum seekers return to living hell

Tamil asylum seekers deported from Australia allege torture (sometimes to death) and      imprisonment without trial. Their allegations fit into human rights abuses already             documented against Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

  1. Economical advantage:

Although studies vary considerably in their estimates, all agree that in the long term             refugees settled within Australia benefit the national economy.


  • Amnesty Annual Report 2015/16: Australia can do better

“Australia must lift its refugee quota to at least 30,000 people in 2016 and end the regime of offshore detention.”

Australia vs the World

“Our World Ranking (2014)


  • By total number of refugees 50th (prev 48th)
  • Compared to our population size (per 1000 inhabitants) 67th (prev 62nd)
  • Compared to our national wealth per billion GDP 84th (prev 85th)”
  • Australia’s Position on Refugees is Despicable.



Australia is a safe, wealthy country that is not pulling its weight in terms of  international responsibility to the poor, desperate, and endangered.

  1. Transfield wins 1.2b contract for Manus, Nauru detention centre security

Transfield Services will be paid $1.2 billion over 20 months to continue overseeing security at Manus Island and Nauru.

  1. Comment: Don’t attack Transfield over detention centres, attack the contract

Detention Centres are host to an attempt at self-harm every four days, and an incident of sexual assault every four months.

  1. Australian asylum seeker policy may contravene torture convention – UN

“The UN refugee agency had, the committee said, found that overseas centres did not provide humane detention conditions.”

  1. There’s no such thing as a “queue”

A number of countries in our region refuse to allow UNHCR to even register refugees.

  1. Harold Holt – Fact sheet 144

“Harold Holt disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria on 17 December, 1967. His body was never recovered.”

  1. Alan Kurdi’s Story: Behind the Most Heartbreaking Photo of 2015

“Alan Kurdi was one of a million. In the summer of 2015, the three-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish origins and his family fled the war engulfing their country, hoping to             join relatives in the safety of Canada. They were part of a historic flow of refugees             from the Middle East to Europe this year, and they followed the dangerous route             taken by so many others.”

  1. Concern over media restrictions on Australia’s asylum seeker policy

“The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Media,             Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) in raising strong concerns about the media  restrictions that surround Australia’s asylum seeker policy and its offshore             immigration detention centres. The IFJ and MEAA call on the Australian government     to end the restrictions on media access and access to information.”

  1. Some examples:

  1. Some examples:



Homosexuality and Divorce

I really hope it’s actually a satire gone wrong, but apparently a Christian Canberra couple says they’ll divorce in protest if gay marriage becomes legal. In addition to the obvious point of, “Even if homosexuality IS a sin, how does it affect you at all? Wouldn’t that be for God to deal with, along with all the sins He’s forgiven you for?” it’s worth noting that the Bible is passionately against divorce.

It comes up far more often than homosexuality… yet those who speak passionately against homosexual marriage graciously accept those who divorce and remarry. If you are a Christian like me, stop and think about WHY you are so focused on the one sin in the Bible that applies only to a small number of people. I wrote an article about this whole issue, with Bible verses, some time ago.

Oh, and by the way – if you’ve never met a gay person, you have. Although I’m deeply in love with my husband, I am sometimes attracted to women. Does that change your view of me? If so, why?

This is what a bisexual mother of two looks like.


Open Letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton

Felicity Banks


Dear Mr Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection:

I was a teenager when I first realised there was something wrong with Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. A case was being discussed on the radio of a gay man in danger due to his homosexuality. When I heard the story, he had already been returned to his country of origin on the basis that he was faking homosexuality in order to gain entry to Australia – despite the fact that he was in a relationship with another asylum seeker at the time.

I’m in my thirties now with two children of my own that I would protect with my life – but I still fear for the children and adults who have come to Australia for help only to face an immigration system that is designed to send away as many asylum seekers as possible. It seems asylum seekers are presumed to be guilty of “faking it” – but statistics indicate the majority are genuine refugees1.

I know that as a police officer you have seen the best and the worst of humanity, and have protected and defended the most vulnerable people in our community. You have also seen first-hand that justice requires an open flow of information.

Thanks to the recent Migration Bill, your job includes the power to hide Australia’s legal processes regarding our asylum seekers. You even have the power to knowingly send genuine refugees back to likely torture and death without ever letting the Australian media or the UN find out2.

I do not believe that is the kind of person you are.

There are three things I think you and I both believe in:

1. Transparency.

The Australian government must be 100% transparent about exactly what is happening to asylum seekers who attempt to find a home in Australia (except of course for hiding names and faces of asylum seekers who feel they or their loved ones may be in danger if revealed).

2. Freedom.

No innocent person (particularly a child) should be imprisoned.

a. We urgently need to get kids (and adults) out of detention and into Australia (not Papua New Guinea or Nauru, where they are in immediate physical danger from locals when released into the community3). The Uniting Church has volunteered to find safe homes for all the unaccompanied minors, and there are many other organisations falling over themselves to volunteer to help more people – at zero cost to the taxpayer4.

If sorting out aid organisations is too complex, ask the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to do it for you.

b. Our legal process is appallingly slow5 and the lack of a firm release date from detention is causing enormous harm6. It is not right to treat asylum seekers as badly as we do7, even in an effort to discourage people smuggling. The “stop the boats” policy looks good on paper, but only because the horrors are happening out of sight8.Our legal process should be weighted accordingly. The purpose of law is to protect the vulnerable – punishing the guilty is a secondary concern.

The fast-track-style legal process would be a good thing if it was used to get genuine refugees out of detention fast. It is not a good thing when it results in genuine refugees getting deported due to a lack of adequate examination of their case.

The needs of the incarcerated children are paramount, and their innocence is clear. But the majority of adults in detention don’t deserve to be there either1.

3. Humanity.

Please formally reaffirm Australia’s commitment to international human rights law, including the Refugee Convention that we helped to write9. Until now, we had a good human rights record. You have the power to make us a human rights leader once again.

Yours Sincerely,

Felicity Banks

Please note this is an open letter that, excluding my contact details, will be shared online.


In 2009/2010, 80% of boat arrivals were deemed to be genuine refugees, and only 3% of asylum seekers arrived by boat (ie “boat people” are an incredibly minor part of the issue, and are usually genuine refugees).


Former PM Malcolm Fraser is appalled at the recent Migration Bill and the powers it bestows upon the Immigration Minister (including secrecy and the ability to knowingly return people to a place where they are likely to be tortured).


Men and women granted refugee status and released into Nauru face persecution and threats, including police harassment when they ask for help. Women are afraid of being attacked and raped in their camps (both in and out of detention, but out of detention is more dangerous).

Unaccompanied children granted refugee status and released into Nauru face persecution from locals including beatings and threats.


Although studies vary considerably in their estimates, all agree that in the long term refugees settled within Australia benefit the national economy.

Suggestions of better ways to process asylum seekers (especially children).


At the time of writing (30 December 2014) 603 children are in immigration detention in Australia, 186 on Nauru, and the average time spent in detention is 413 days.

6. (trigger warning)

A case study of a girl given asylum in Australia after her father refused to allow her to become the concubine of a Taliban chief. While she waited three years for paperwork to process so her family could also be given asylum, her father was killed. Her brother is missing and probably also dead.


An asylum seeker mother details the horrific and unsanitary conditions in Nauru, including a lack of adequate drinking water.

A summary of 2014 for asylum seekers in Australia: “Under Australia’s watchful eye, asylum seekers face an environment of intimidation, violence, self-harm and procedural uncertainty. “

The bizarre rules for refugee visas (eg not being allowed to swear in public or they may have their visas revoked) are designed to dehumanise legitimate immigrants and promote racism in the community.


The “stop the boats” policy is putting more people in danger (the most vulnerable are ignored because they are forced to go and risk death elsewhere).

According to the UN, the reason there are less people arriving in Australia by boat is because the “stop the boats” policy is causing more to die at sea. A more effective method of reducing people smuggling and needless death would be to create better legal channels where possible (but for many of the most desperate asylum seekers, there IS no legal path to safety because their own government wants them dead).

Sri Lankan asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka were immediately (and predictably) arrested.

“Less than two years ago, the Australian government’s own statistics showed that about 90% of boat arrivals, including those from Sri Lanka, were judged to be in need of protection. Yet suddenly, under a secret process on a boat on the high seas, with no legal oversight, only one of 38 is judged to need protection.”

Tamil asylum seekers deported from Australia allege torture (sometimes to death) and imprisonment without trial. Their allegations fit into human rights abuses already documented against Tamil people in Sri Lanka.



Australia is breaking international human rights law, and is therefore condemned by the UN.

Australia is a safe, wealthy country that is not pulling its weight in terms of international responsibility to the poor, desperate, and endangered.


The tiniest protestor

My mother and sister were both arrested today.

Last week a new Migration Bill was passed granting extraordinary powers (including a great deal of secrecy) to the Immigration Minister. The following day, the government used its new power to begin the procedure of deporting 25 asylum seeker babies that were born here in Australia. Eight of the babies are from the Rohingya people group, who are not recognised as citizens by their native Myanmar. They are persecuted on that basis, and women and children have been killed (both by institutions and by mobs) simply for being Rohingya.

Australia helped to write the Refugee Convention that made it illegal to send people back to a place where it was likely they’d be tortured or killed. This new Migration Bill overturned it, making Australia a willing and knowing accessory to crimes against humanity.

I want it to be illegal to send people back to a place where they’re likely to be harmed.

I want total transparency on all refugee cases taking place in Australia.

I want all asylum seekers processed in Australia (so they have basic human rights protection), by people who are politically neutral, with reasonable speed and a clear time-frame (as opposed to indefinite imprisonment without trial, as too many are now suffering).

I want all refugees deemed safe (by a neutral body) to be released into the community – there are dozens of individuals and organisations that have volunteered to take them, which would save Australia millions of dollars.

I want Temporary Protection Visas to be used only until cases are processed, and then converted into true security for the men, women, children and babies who need a home.

So basically, I’d like asylum seekers treated as humans in genuine need until proven otherwise.

That is why I attended the protest today at which my mother and sister were arrested (I was in the outside crowd, which was never at risk of arrest). And that is why TJ attended – representing the 25 Australian-born babies that our government is trying to get rid of.

IMG_0213 IMG_0216 IMG_0222 IMG_0226 IMG_0235 (2)

This is what a boat person looks like

My little sister has just been arrested for taking part in a peaceful sit-in at Zed Seselja’s office here in Canberra. She and several others stayed in his office, refusing to leave until they were given an answer to one question: “When will the 789 children and their families be released from immigration detention?”

Here in Australia, both sides of the government have been mistreating and demonising asylum seekers for decades, keeping them in camps indefinitely and without trial (often in other countries in a transparent effort to avoid legal responsibility – even when those countries have appalling human rights records), and breaking international human rights law in the process.

Australians are fundamentally decent, so the government also blocks the media from reporting on what is actually happening (especially anything individualising, such as names and photos). I supported today’s protest via social media, and used images of my own children to stand in for those who are deliberately hidden from our sight.



I thought about explaining the situation to Louisette and videoing her response – but I realised that just TALKING to her about kids in immigration detention would be harmful to her. There are mothers in detention right now who were desperate enough to leave everything they knew in order to protect their children. Now they have to answer questions like these:

Mummy, are we safe now?

Mummy, is this Australia?

Mummy, when can we get out?

Mummy, they won’t send us back. . . will they? Mummy?

Ten Questions for Feminist Mums

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of feminist blog blue milk*. She likes to read the responses of other feminist mums to the following ten questions, and since I’m currently promoting my ebook SEE THROUGH, she’ll be posting extracts of this on her blog.

How would you describe your feminism in one sentence? When did you become a feminist? Was it before or after you became a mother?

Duh. Of COURSE women are as good as men, as smart as men, and deserve to be paid as well as men – in money, in respect, and in equal shares of the annoying/gross/stressful/responsible household jobs. It took me many years to realise not everyone thought that way – and that very few people truly act that way, including myself.

What has surprised you most about motherhood?

My experience is, I think, unique – having a baby did something to my body chemistry (and my heart) and I recovered from seven years of mental illness. Early in my marriage I wasn’t sure if I should have children, because it looked quite likely I’d be unable to care for a child. But after talking to family members (mainly to check I could rely on a lot of emergency babysitting if I had to) I took the chance.

Before I was a mother, I could work a maximum of twelve hours a week. Now, in addition to looking after my own baby, I also babysit other young children for up to ten hours a day, thirty-five hours a week, on a regular basis. I think it’s possible there was some kind of chemical reboot during pregnancy (and all the pro-baby hormones helped), but it’s also because I desperately needed a grand, all-encompassing purpose in life – and for me, being a mother is that meaningful and satisfying. (Although doing paid work is also vital to me to feel like a human – a belief that is fundamentally flawed, but too close to my centre for me to cast aside.) I still have panic attacks and times when I can barely get dressed, but ultimately I’m pretty functional. Most women’s sanity goes in the opposite direction with motherhood.

 How has your feminism changed over time? What is the impact of motherhood on your feminism?

Getting married turned gender roles into an obsession long before I had a baby. When little Louisette arrived, the spotlight on my marriage grew even more intense.

For me, the weakest point of my marriage is the risk of falling into a mother-child relationship with my husband. Anyone who can’t be trusted to do their share of household chores is not an adult.

I knew it was the weakest point of our relationship before we married, and have carefully (often tearfully) explained it to my husband over and over. He simply doesn’t understand what I’m saying. The more powerful members of society never do understand what it’s like to be the less powerful member. That’s one of the perks of power – everything seems fair from where you’re standing.

It’s not all his fault, however. Organising things and making household decisions (from groceries to what kind of house to buy) makes me feel powerful, so I have a tendency to jump in before he has a chance to do his part. It’s not like he’s the only one sending us in that fatal mother-child direction. (And yes, it’s definitely fatal. How can I be in love with someone I see as a child? How can he be in love with his mother?)

Having a daughter also gives me a highly convenient litmus test for feminism. All I have to do is think, “How would I want my daughter treated in this situation?” and I know when someone is treating me badly. I hope that by the time Louisette grows up she’ll have enough self-worth to figure out her rights without needing a prop.

What makes your mothering feminist? How does your approach differ from a non-feminist mother’s? How does feminism impact upon your parenting?

I tread a compromised path, like all mothers. To survive in our society, I think a woman must be able to believe in her own attractiveness, and I choose not to fight that particular battle, because I know Louisette would suffer for it. My prettifying efforts started from her birth, when I dressed her in attractive and usually pink clothing. I believe a girl who is constantly told how pretty she is as a child will be better able to handle the sudden awareness of societal messages saying, “Shouldn’t you be thinner? Shouldn’t you have bigger breasts? Shouldn’t you have blonder hair?” as she grows up. I will teach her to use make-up, to shave her legs, to do her hair. She can stop doing any of those things if she wants to, but she’ll have the skills to fit in if she chooses the more comfortable path.

At the same time I already try to steer her away from the stories that equate goodness and worth with beauty, and that tell the reader the purpose of life is to get married – like Cinderella. Beauty is nice, and everyone has a little bit – but there must be more to you than that.


The correct response to this photo is, “Awwww!”

As a writer, I believe stories tell us who we are and what matters. When I write my own novels, my protagonists are almost always female. They have problems, and they solve them – actively. When they like a boy, they generally tell him, and if a boy treats them badly they don’t stick around. Why would they? But generally they’re too busy saving the day to care too much what boys think. Isn’t that true of all the world’s most interesting women?


Most of all I try to be aware of the contradictions in both society and myself, so that when my little one is old enough she can sort truth from lies, and choose what compromises to make in her own life.

Mental illness runs in my family, so I try to teach Louisette resilience as both a preventative and a cure. I watched a psychology video once that presented toddlers with a problem. Both started off by crying for help, but when no help arrived in a few moments the boys stopped crying and attempted to solve the problem themselves. The girls continued crying.

I try so hard to sit on my hands when my own baby has a frustrating problem to solve – so she learns that waiting to be rescued isn’t the solution to everything. You can’t learn resilience without frustration, and you can’t learn it without pain. Sometimes I have to let her fall down. I remind myself constantly that we all unconsciously let little girls fall down less often than little boys – and that’s not a good thing. (We also shush little girls more than little boys, but that’s another story.)

Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother? Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?

Of course, always! I could lie awake every night thinking about the mistakes I’ve made – or I could be transparent and let my daughter see the cogs working. “Mummy usually takes care of remembering birthdays, because Daddy doesn’t like to organise things. Daddy usually drives the car because Mummy likes looking out the window.” I have a lot of faith in thoughtfulness and questions.

Has identifying as a feminist mother ever been difficult? Why?

LOL! I literally got up from the desk before answering this question, and moved some large-but-light toys onto the couch. Why? Because my husband is vacuuming right now and I’m aware that he won’t move the toys himself – and our daughter has a habit of attempting to eat cat hair that she will most certainly find beneath her own toys. While our marriage is probably the envy of many readers (he vacuums? Every week?!) it has its weaknesses – and Louisette will echo our relationship patterns for the rest of her life.

Incidentally, I also pointed out to my husband a few moments ago that now was his last chance to vacuum this weekend (baby asleep; no guests; not late at night). He appears incapable of figuring this out himself – which makes all the household chores my responsibility, regardless of who physically does them. That’s not right.

My husband will be the image of “normal man” for my daughter – most potently, the way he treats me (the image of “normal woman”). If I don’t pursue equality in my marriage, how can I expect my daughter to pursue it in her life?

Motherhood involves sacrifice, how do you reconcile that with being a feminist?

From the age of twelve to twenty-four I planned to move to Indonesia to teach in slum schools for free. . . . so Australian motherhood seems easy in comparison. The important thing for me is the ratio of meaningfulness to sacrifice. Given that motherhood more or less cured me from mental illness, giving me my life back – I’m still gaining a lot more than I’m losing.

It’s interesting that it was only after having a baby that I finally published a novel for the first time. Parenthood is sufficiently daunting that, in comparison, almost nothing is scary.

This was the best picture of Louisette and I that was taken on my first Mothers’ Day – and yes, I’m wiping up her spew.


If you have a partner, how does your partner feel about your feminist motherhood? What is the impact of your feminism on your partner?

My husband spends a lot of time observing other people’s female children from birth to young adulthood, and thinking about the kind of girl and woman he wants our daughter to be. If nothing else, his hopes for her make him a feminist. He wants her to know her strength, to be respected, to be herself.

When he’s at home, he doesn’t “help” me look after her – he just looks after her.

Feminism has given him a more interesting wife.

If you’re an attachment parenting mother, what challenges if any does this pose for your feminism and how have you resolved them?

Mother Nature is definitely sexist – just look at the female reproductive process as compared to the male contribution. On the other hand, while I’m furious that women are still often forced to abandon their career to be a mum, I think all of the horror show of pregnancy and birth is worth it for women to get first dibs on the opportunity to be the stay at home parent. Because I imagine it’s easier for a woman to choose this life than a man.

I love being around my daughter all day, every day (with certain much-needed breaks) and I have a unique solution to my own attachment to her, as opposed to my longing to work. My job is writing novels and babysitting – and in both jobs I have my daughter with me. The pressure is enormous sometimes, but I have everything I need.

Do you feel feminism has failed mothers and if so how? Personally, what do you think feminism has given mothers?

It has definitely failed mothers, because pretty much every woman I know feels she has to do paid work, whether that is her preferred choice or not. The cliché that motherhood is the most important job in the world? I actually believe it. That belief cured my mental illness and gave me my life back. Apart from anything else, it’s parents that teach the next generation how society should be – so if we want the world to change, motherhood is where it’s at. Being a mother doesn’t take away any of my ability to think, read, write novels, work for money, or be an interesting person. It is tragic that so few women have the choice to stay at home.


*This is not a child-safe blog, FYI.