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We treat dogs better than the asylum seekers

  • 23 August 2017


Last week I was rung to say my dog was missing. I finished at work as soon as I could, ringing the local council and neighbourhood vet on the way home. Neither had seen anything of him but suggested we post on social media. As my husband and I drove and walked the streets, the messages came in. People were concerned. He was missing from an enclosed yard. Some offered to look, others from further away, shared hope and the Facebook post. The post went everywhere, the last I saw was in Western Australia.

Mid-afternoon, the Vet called. The person who brought him in didn’t leave their name. He was brought from his warm cosy area of safe-keeping towards us. I was ecstatic. He was unperturbed. At the beginning of this year, my 31-year old son moved interstate. Despite the fact he has lived independently from me for 14 years, I still had the yearning to see him safe in his new abode. When he was five years old, I would sometimes hide behind the bushes staring into the school yard hoping that he’d found a friend. I suppose that is what I still hope for him, the kind of friend he could drop in on in the bad times and drop in on in the good.

During the same week, on Manus Island, another mother’s 31-year-old son went missing. He was a man known to have been living with trauma, who had been recommended to have medical attention. His own friends had posted messages to alert Australians to his desperation.

In the last four years, my son became engaged and married. Together he and his wife took on the adventure of moving interstate to new jobs, creating their home and now they’re spending time in Europe. Some of his photos and posts from these years depict a young man working hard, providing enjoyment and leadership. Others depict a young man mad for the girl he has married, at ease in his own skin and having a hell of a good time.

In the last four years, Hamed Shamshiripour had been detained in the prison of the Australian detention system. He was denied the care he needed. A week ago he died.

I think of what he and the other young men imprisoned in off-shore detention centres could have been contributing to our country. I think of what they could have created in their own families