A conversation with myself
People who emigrate to Australia, whether by a leaky boat or by a commercial plane, on a visitor, working or study visa. Some of the conversations are ugly, discriminatory and not all based on facts but assumptions, judgements and fears, some rightly or wrongly so but, that’s why we have rules and policies that protect this great nation. Yes it can be difficult to place your security and safety in others hands, we get that.
The challenges those who come here regardless of how they arrive, are many and varied. Challenges that I cannot comprehend. Some escaping who knows what, some are forced to flee and others in a position to leave of their own accord.
We left our home with my dad’s blessing, left for a variety of reasons, of which I am still saddened. We are privileged and can come and go as we please, we didn’t land in a foreign country where we didn’t know the language the customs or the environment or how we would be accepted. Though we did know the shite we’d get, the name calling, which after thirty years has diminished, thankfully. It is the Australian way, or perhaps now that I am mature it is no longer appropriate to assume that I have shagged a sheep.
In reality all we did was cross a ditch, hop in a car and drive that long dusty path across the Nullarbor to land in what was way back then Perth, disguised as a large country town, faced with petrol rosters and no weekend trade, WHAT THA! Followed a month later by all of our worldly possessions that were stored in a sea container that was plonked on thankfully not a leaky boat. Minus a vacuum cleaner as that dusty thing may contain foreign crawlies that aren’t welcome.
I am frayed around the edges and a little bit broken by the stories I read and the people I talk to as I come face to face with the reality of the challenges of those who are truly foreign to our country (yes I’m naturalised), too late for those who want to send me back. My ignorance though, belies me. There are both young and mature people that just want to see the world and experience what it has to offer; there are others forced to leave their homes desperately seeking a safer life for themselves and their families. Who wouldn’t? I understand that it is hard to fathom, that our world is arse shaped and full of fears, discrimination, trepidation, and insecurities as we all fight to keep our heads safely above water, there are those fortunate enough to have family support, think about that for a moment.
I reflect on the conversations I have and the stories entrusted to me
Many people pay a high price for an opportunity to study here in Australia, there are conditions and regulations and rightly so that are placed upon them. Loved ones are left behind, families sometimes become broken, and believe me distance doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.
Their family’s scrape together to give loved ones opportunities to study, gain qualifications, knowledge and skills that they can take back home or, if an opportunity presents, a sponsorship and then further well earned opportunities. These people work very hard, and are often already highly educated. I can’t imagine leaving a support network behind to start again, not now anyway when in fact that was what we did. Yes my regrets are many. These people moved to what is to them a foreign environment, they learn a new language and are faced with a very different culture. Lets not forget also that these foreigners and their families when they come to visit contribute to our productivity and our GDP, it isn’t all one sided. Not in my wildest dreams would I contemplate such a journey as their’s, that’s possibly because I’m spoiled, not adventurous enough or just lazy, you pick.
My heart fills with joy when I see multiculturalism at its best, they laugh together, support and respect each other, regardless of race, religion, gender, health, wealth or poverty. As my tongue falls over its self trying to pronounce foreign names, I am never corrected or admonished that I have it wrong. They accept me for who I am.
I take my hat of to my people, and am honoured that I am part of their journey.