DAY 291: Going to a rally

19 Jun

WHILE I’m a-brim with non-specific empathy, I don’t have much of a social conscience.

This year’s mission is to lasso my sphere of consciousness into ever-wider circles – with the paradox that writing about the experience brings it all, remorselessly, back to me. Sorry about that.

One matter in the news that never fails to move me is the plight of asylum seekers. Maybe it’s because all that was required of me to move to Australia was mountains of paperwork – yet all I was escaping was stagnancy. Maybe it’s the unfairness of it all.

The World Refugee Day Rally, which gathers in Melbourne’s Carlton Gardens, wants to see  an end to mandatory detention. It argues that refugees should be settled in their Australian communities while their cases are being heard, rather than incarcerated in camps for years at a time, or shipped off to Malaysia.

“No one’s ever accused me of being an economic rationalist before,” Refugee Advocacy Network organiser Mark Riley points out to giggles, “but it saves money having asylum seekers live in the community.”

Human Rights lawyer Julian Burnside points out that locking up traumatised people and dividing families for five years at a time causes great psychiatric harm, that eventually either gets turned against the system, or inwards, in the form of self-harm or suicide.

Leading the march of thousands to Fitzroy Town Hall is the Red Brigade, who I last saw when I led their zombie parade through Falls Festival on Day 122. They oompah us through some free the refugees-style chants as we proceed through the suburb to awaiting Emerge Festival.

Keeper? I think this is the start of a new enlightenment.

One Response to “DAY 291: Going to a rally”


  1. No port in a storm | - June 28, 2011

    […] a tiny 13,000 UN refugees a year. Other forms of migration are in the hundreds of thousands. As an adventurous blogging friend pointed out, all she was seeking refuge from was the dullness of Slough. All she needed to do was […]

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