Australia Day and the Highland Clearances

Australia Day came and went and alas, not once did I think about my birthplace, Scotland, or the country where I spent my childhood (New Zealand). The older I get and the further away from my Citizenship Day ceremony (January 26, 2000), the more it seems I have assimilated. I do not mean assimilate in a flag-wearing, gum boot-tossing, beer-swilling, ‘It-was-in- the-‘Stralian-so-it-must-be-true’, sense. Regardless, it is some admission from an iconoclastic alien, someone who had…

Continue reading

Refugee documentaries – preaching to the converted

As it is Refugee Week, I’ve been reflecting on how my support for refugees and asylum seekers is shamefully passive. I was reminded of this after attending a viewing last Saturday of Julian Burnside’s refugee documentary, Border Politics. Then on Monday I was one of 67 people who devoted the evening to a public viewing in Buderim of the refugee film, Constance on the Edge. ‘Constance on the Edge’ charts the struggles of a mother…

Continue reading

Refugees settling in despite funding cuts

While refugees and migrants have been welcomed into Australia’s rural communities, successive Budget cuts have made life difficult for refugee support services. Although not attracting too many headlines, a $50 million cut in the 2018-19 Budget, and another $77.9 million over four years in the 2019-20 Budget, means that organisations trying to help refugees with the transition to a new country, a new culture and a new language are left scrambling. The Refugee Council of…

Continue reading

Keeping the Toowoomba carnival afloat

So there we were at the unaccustomed early hour of 7am in Laurel Bank Park, Toowoomba, trying to catch Macca’s eye to say, “Mate, we’re here.” Ian McNamara,* the host of Australia all Over, who sometimes plays music by our band, The Goodwills, had invited us to attend his second OB (outside broadcast) of the year. Laurel Bank Park was pretty as a picture, thanks to a big team of gardeners and a decision by…

Continue reading