Today marks my 100th blog post and it’s an appropriate subject, seeing as I started this blog about 18 months ago, the same time I applied for my Australian Permanent Residency. And I’m excited to announce that recently, my visa was finally granted!
I’m just relieved that I won’t have to call the Department of Immigration anymore. I’d begun to memorize their hold message. And the approval came just in time for me to start teaching my Kangatraining classes. (More on this later.)
That part’s no coincidence. I knew it was only a matter of days before my approval came because I had to take some action to get it moving. After countless phone calls, advice from everyone in the world and lots of tears we finally got the one piece of advice that worked: contact your local MP.
I had no idea this kind of thing not only comes under their jurisdiction, but happens quite often! Now, it doesn’t hurt that our MP, Anthony Albanese, also recently became the Deputy Prime Minister.
By all accounts Albo seems like a pretty good guy. We met with his Assistant who was lovely and helpful and their office wrote a very personal letter on my behalf. Jim joked that he guessed he’d have to vote Labor in the next election in a few weeks. Normally he’s a Greens voter, and I would be too if I were allowed to vote.
But even if I were allowed, I could not in good conscience vote for Labor this election. Or any election if they continue to announce policies so blatantly hypocritical and pandering to a xenophobic electorate.
See, here’s the thing. I arrived here in Australia nearly 4 years ago by plane. I came from a wealthy, peaceful nation. I came as an educated, English-speaking, white, middle class woman. My immigration process was frustrating. The paperwork seemed to never end. But ultimately it worked out and my MP spoke out for my family. In fact his letter went so far as to tell the department that,
“… a baby is a joyous event for every family and that Sharon’s family is being deprived of spending time with and getting to know Luella while the visa is pending.”
So now I have to wonder why he’s not speaking out for refugees? These men, women and children who are fleeing war-torn nations, who’ve suffered in ways most Australians couldn’t even fathom – where is their voice? Instead of personal letters, they’ll be getting detention in Papua New Guinea. Women will face sexual assault, gay men will be persecuted, and families will be torn apart.
So where is the nudging along of their visas?
And where is the outrage? Since PM Kevin Rudd announced his new immigration policy, the strictest in the history of the Labor party, his numbers have gone up.
Earlier this year I saw Mr Albanese speak at the swearing-in of new Australian citizens as part of the Ashfield Cultural Festival. I will become a citizen, myself, as soon as I have the chance. I can’t wait to officially become an Australian. But it will be with a bit of shame that I accept the nation’s embrace as it is denied to so many who truly need it.