Let the Children Come

My local Federal member, Nola Marino, replied to my letter about asylum seekers with the assertion that she was proud of the Coalition’s record in ‘stopping the boats’.

It’s true that fewer children (and adults) have died at sea because of the Coalition’s policies, and I remind myself to credit them for that. Each life saved is a victory.

However, on the one hand, success in stopping the boats does not solve the problem of displaced people in the region. The Coalition is right: we need to do much more. Australia has a special responsibility in the region because we are wealthy country, and, like it or not, many refugees choose Australia as the place they seek for their new home.

But I protest what is happening to real children because of the Coalition’s policies: over one thousand are locked up in less than ideal conditions.

By itself, locking up a child is injurious enough. Children should be free. Robbing them of their liberty is a crime humane society should never tolerate.

But more than that, Australian Government detention centres are no places for children. They are designed to take away hope from adults. Children in them are not generously fed and clothed. Education is minimal. They do not play; partly because there are no inviting play areas except asphalt pavement in the hot sun, partly because they feel defeated. Children should not be harming themselves. They should not being made sick because of the way we are treating them.

As a human being, a father and a grandfather, I cry for these thousand children. As a Christian, I protest against a Government whose policies amount to child abuse.

Harsh treatment of human beings is counter-productive. There are difficult policy choices. On that, I agree with Ms Marino MP. But let us proceed by love, not cruelty. I raise my voice with other Christians. #LoveMakesAWay.

Child’s drawing – from Christmas Island detention centre