Friday, November 13, 2015

How To Live Like An Asylum Seeker In The Australian Community

I see so many people cry that people seeking asylum in Australia get all the benefits! They get free housing! They get everything!

Well, that's utter bullshit.

Try this.

You have to flee your country, because there has been a threat to your life. Maybe your brother went missing last week, and there is no news about where he is, or if he is still alive.

There are phone calls to your family; there are scary, anxious moments when you go out to the market. This has been going on for months and months, but is escalating. You haven't been able to go out of the house for work for months.

You are scared. Really scared. Your life is in serious danger. So you decide to flee.

Maybe just you, and your family scrape together all the money they can, and what they can borrow, to send you. In the hope that you will be safe, and you may one day help them get to safety too.

So you find a way to pay for a passage to Australia - the "Lucky Country". A country where you will be safe, and free, and you can start a new life, get a job and start helping your family back home.

You need to go through so many steps to get to Indonesia, so many scary moments, before you are actually placed on that rickety boat in the middle of the night, with a heap of other people who have done very much the same as you to get there.

Since July 19 2013, it has been a randomised lotto about whether you were quickly sent to Nauru or Manus Island, or whether you remained on Christmas Island. And if indeed you were allocated to stay back, even when people from the boat you came on went sent offshore, you would now be living in the Australian community.

Our Minister of Immigration, and his Opposition, try to pretend this did not happen. But you will find anyone here in our community who arrived on the very same boats as those held without hope. So goes the many lies of this political football in our country.

Once you get out of detention, which could be months after you arrive, could be years - no rhyme or reason again about why there is a difference, you will either live with someone you already know here in Australia (a community link), or you will first be placed in a hotel for up to 6 weeks. Now, you must figure out how to live in Australia.

A totally foreign place, with more rules and regulations and paperwork than you can imagine. You need to open a bank account, with minimal acceptable ID and no history of living in Australia. Then you need to find somewhere to live. How do you find a rental property in Australia, with no rental history?

Once you have a bank account, and you have worked you way through the lines and processes at Centrelink, you now receive around 85% of the Newstart allowance, so about $429 per fortnight. You need rent and bond to get started. You will also need to find a place that fits within your allowance, so you can eat, travel around to appointments and hope to find work. You have no option but to find something very cheap, in outer areas, and with many other people. You certainly have no bargaining power to increase a bid for a rental property, as is the trend here in the cities of Australia!

But you are starting with nothing. So imagine you need to figure out how to furnish your new place with the bare necessities, usually with the help of charities in the community.

Once you have settled, you've found somewhere to live, and you are setting yourself up with further English classes to help with living in Australia, and you are starting to figure out how to find a job. How do you find a job in Australia with no work history in Australia? Maybe your schooling back in your home country was not recognised formally, because you were stateless, or simply because you need to go through many impossible steps to have it acknowledged in Australia. Maybe you didn't get to go to school, due to your family circumstances, or because you needed to work to help your family. Finding work is a very big challenge.

Depending on your visa, you should get an Interim Medicare card for medical assistance. But this doesn't cover everything, and many providers in the community have no idea what this means, You will need to pay full price for any medication, unless you have a support service set up an arrangement for you. For an emergency, of course, you can go to a hospital to be treated - but just hope you are not taken via ambulance, cos we all know how expensive that is!

And then you wait. Wait for your chance to be determined to be a refugee.

Oh! But because you have arrived by boat, even if you are deemed to be a genuine refugee, you still are not given permanent protection to stay in Australia. You will have to go through your refugee determination every couple of years, for the next visa temporary option. Under constant uncertainty about your future; never quite settled, really.

All the while, you have the shadow of Border Force and Immigration hanging over you. You know people back in detention that have been re-detained for the smallest things - for driving without a licence, for a drink driving charge, for being in a fight, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for no good reason given at all. This fear hangs over your head, reminding you of the very fears you held for your life back home.

Not so easy now, is it?

Australia needs an amnesty on it's treatment towards people seeking asylum, who are here, and stuck in our offshore island set-ups. Before we can return to being a country we can be proud of.

Treating people like this is not saving anyone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sunset Over Sarajevo

Setting over the old city, the sun put on a show for me each evening, from the hill where I was staying.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Age Of Entitlement: The Basics

The Basics have released one of my favourite albums of the year, The Age Of Entitlement, which is a mixture of rock political anthems mixed with their tunes of heart pains and pop fun.

I saw the first full live run of it at their first Melbourne Festival show, at the Hub on the banks of the Yarra.

The tented bandroom was set up with the stage in the middle of the room, with the crowd standing all around, wondering how the boys were going to feel with people so close.

This was similar to a show they had had earlier in the year, that I have heard great things about, with the in-the-round set up mixing up the gig going experience.

First up was Benny Walker, who gave us an impressive guitar and voice set, and certainly ensured we remembered him from his strong song delivery.

Opening as the album opened, The Basics started with What Ever Happened To The Working Class, and then Coward's Prayer. Other album tracks such as Every Part Of Me, To Think Of You, Feels Like Love and the amazingly powerful Tunaomba Saidia was also there, and were highlights.

Hey Rain was included, which is also on this album, plus the fun Roundabout broke up the set.

A request from the audience saw Wally do a solo Maybe I'm Amazed cover of Paul McCartney's track, which was incredible.

My Old Mate finished this night off, as the album does.

In the middle of this show, however, they hinted at a final show before a long hiatus, or maybe the end of the road. Of course, we have heard this several times before, but the tone of the discussions

So to the Gasometer we went last week, to again see the boys play on a stage in the middle of the bandroom - this time on the smallest piece of staging possible, making any back step by someone on stage a moment of anxiety for all who could see!

Benny Walker returned as support, and also William Crighton first up, who had the bonus of having the three Basics join him to harmonise for two songs of his set.

The roof of the bandroom was opened once The Basics took the stage, and with the people hanging over the balcony above, this made for a pretty unique gig experience.

A punchy start to the night, with So Hard For You, and then political anthem Lucky Country.

Many of the new songs featured from The Age Of Entitlement, with surprise inclusions from previous releases such as You're Already Gone, and Second Best.

The sprinkling of covers was the real treat - Comfortably Numb, Songbird and Roxanne, impressive standouts.

A two hour set, with all the boys on song, if this was their farewell, what a way to go out! An epic show!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Top 5: Finds In Darwin

I have spent a bit of time visiting Darwin this year, and have discovered some gems in the city for escape, relaxation and beauty.

Now the tourist guides will mention a war museum, a couple of crocodile parks, and the new waterfront as places to visit. Although then they run out of suggestion, I found.

One of them is the view from the Darwin Trailer Boat Club. Family friendly, you can sit inside and out, and there is a pool for the kids, while the adult take in the ocean view and the plethora of drinks available at very reasonable prices. The food is not amazing, and I watched the footy there once, so it's not high end - go for the views!

The best view in Darwin has to be the sun dipping into the ocean at sunset, from the Nightcliff Jetty - or just off the jetty so that the jetty features in your view. Spectacular colours, such a show.

This area is packed with locals and visitors alike for the daily setting of the sun, and has rustic old-fashioned food vans, well worth the visit. You'll need to eat if you didn't come prepared with a picnic, because families and groups set up here with the most amazing smelling food!

Once the sun is down, and when it's in season, the Darwin Deckchair Cinema is the next find - below the Esplanade, it is tucked between the town and the sea. The movies are a good selection, the chairs are comfy enough, and there is also a rotation of food options through the week.

My favourite find, however, has to be Eva's cafe in the Darwin Botanical Gardens. A converted old homestead, the verandas and the back decking are the perfect place for an escape, among the trees of the Gardens. The food and coffee is very good, and the service was tops each time I went there.

The last Darwin recommendation is an extension of the Botanical Gardens, down to Mindil Beach. I managed to get the strip of sand mostly all to myself, for a total get away.

A walk along the path and up the hill, towards the Darwin High School, gave me a view across the water and beach, which was well worth the climb.

This area has sunset markets on most days, and I would imagine gets swarms of beachgoers on weekends.

Lots more to explore in this part of the world, but these have been my delighted finds so far!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Ashes Test: Cardiff

The First Ashes test between England and Australia in the middle of this year was in Wales - at Sophia Gardens, in Cardiff.

The much anticipated tour after the last encounter in Australia, which saw the Aussies dominate, but then also the Aussies even performances against South Africa and then dismal showing against Pakistan in the UAE, and England's gaining as a top test nation again.

The English summer did not disappoint expectations, delivering a dull, cloudy and chilly couple of days. Light sent us to the pubs in Cardiff a little early on a few occasions. But the civilised start times in the morning allowed for a walk to the ground through town.

Past Cardiff castle each time, and through the gardens along the river, getting to the ground was a pleasure each time.

The English side won the toss and went in to bat on Day 1, following a bizarre play-delaying opening ceremony on-field. The Aussie bowlers get into the action pretty early, and quick wickets made for entertaining viewing to warm the Aussie section of the crowd a little.

The Poms finished on 7/343 at the end of the days play, which included Root's impressive 134, and we went on to find a few watering holes in the streets between the ground and our hotel.

The next day saw the handful of Sheilas in the traveling Waving The Flag group display our pink, adding some much needed variety to the grey, green and gold sea of our allocated section. And captured in a rare moment of sun!

England's Ali added a further 50 to his overnight total, to eventually fall at 77, and Starc then finished them off, grabbing a 5 wicket haul for the innings. England has 430.

The Aussies were soon in trouble, and the struggles of newly crowned best batsman Smith began with the English summer - they just seemed to have him worked out!

Rogers went on to score 95, creating anticipation and just missing out, and then the Aussies finished the day on 5/264.

Australia ticked past 300 in the morning of Day 3, but then were all out just 8 runs later. For the most interesting day of the test, the Aussies then took a few quick opening wickets, before England dug in until Root and Bell were both dismissed for 60 a piece.

England were all out for 289, setting Australia the unlikely target of 412 for victory, with talk of rain on the final day.

The Aussies were ticking along initially on Day 4, with Warner and Smith putting together a 78 run partnership. We celebrated Luke's birthday in the stand with cake and hats, and the Australia's were then 2/92 at lunch.

What followed was a session of capitulation, with England taking six wickets for 65 runs. The tea break saw the scoreboard says 7/162 - a blessing that we couldn't read it properly with the angle of our seats!

The great Mitchell Johnson was the only joy for the rest for the day, with 77 runs next to his name, but soon after Australia was all out for 242, 196 runs short of the target.

This led to us having an unexpected day off in Cardiff the following day - which I totally wasted with a hangover. Usual story on tour!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Know More About The Refugee Issue: Wrap Of Reads And Links

There are so many terms thrown around in the debate here in Australia, and indeed across the world at the moment, amid the numerous current refugee crises and movement of people seeking safety - but do you know what they all mean? Do you know who is talking about whom, and why? Be Informed, with this wrap up of links and lessons.


Do you know the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee? And a refugee or person seeking asylum, and an economic migrant?

The UNHCR discusses the difference here.

Here is another explanation from the UK, which is interesting in it's discussion about people seeking asylum, and the need for them to have entered a country where they then lodge an application for asylum, to be classified as asylum seekers.

What about the term 'illegal' - do you know that seeking asylum is not illegal, but a human right? Even the present government of Australia, who use the term "illegal" every chance they get, admits that this is use is not correct on their website - here.


Amnesty International are putting on a free worldwide course for all on Human Rights, starting November 16, running for 3 weeks.

It's the first global course of it's kind, and will cover The Right To Freedom Of Expression, which supports the right to express, assemble and associate - all areas of persecution in many parts of the world, and a reason many people flee for safety.


Without coming across stories of why people leave their homes, everything they know, the culture and familiar places of home, it's hard to get a grasp on the issue. The Refugee Council of Australia have a great collection of personal stories here, on their website, from refugees now living in Australia. This is a list of links from many different experiences, and place, and many different paths to safety. Some pretty incredible, and inspiring stories of resilience and strength.


There are still 88 children held in detention on Nauru, as at June 2015 according to government figures. There is a group here in Australia collecting letters, and indeed books and toys, to send to these kids, to give them hope that they are not forgotten about in all this political mess and rhetoric. Befriend A Child can be found here, with all the details including instructions on where to send letters, and gifts.

You can hear and read some of the words and responses shared between kids here in Australia and the children in Nauru, which is pretty awesome.


You can meet, and support the vocational development, of some people seeking asylum and refugees, while dining at the Empress in Melbourne on a Tuesday night from now until December 1st. The Scarf community social enterprise, provides training and support to young people who need a leg up into the hospitality industry, is currently delivering it's Spring season, and is one of my favourite social good things. It has such incredibly positive, and life changing outcomes, like these.

Know of anything else? Share it in a comment below.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Views Of The Bay Of Kotor From The Old Wall

The views of the rooftops, the maze of little streets of Kotor below, and the stunning overview of this little corner of the Bay Of Kotor with the spectacular mountains all around, is the payoff for climbing the old city walls behind Kotor Old Town.

There are apparently two entry points to climb the wall, the one we found was a just another of many tiny street in Kotor after a courtyard from Mr Mary's Church.

The climb looked more challenging that it was, although now I read that it was 1350 steps to get to 260 meters above the old city, and that sounds like a lot!

But with views like these, it was easy to be distracted by the bay, the village life below among the roof, and the changing cloud cover over the mountains.

The wall was first built in the 9th century, and added to through to the 19th century, and has clear pathways for tourists to make their way to the top.

It's crumbly in parts, and sections are like abandoned buildings, particularly up at the fortress at the top. There is also the chance to see life on the other side of the wall, nestled into Mt Loveen, with a few houses and livestock living in the small space there.

With every section of climb, the view got better. It also changed quite a bit with each elevation, as more of the old town and bay revealed itself.

As we climbed, one of the daily cruise ships sat at the pier for Kotor below. Whilst it kind of spoilt our natural view of the bay, it seemed that the throngs of passengers disembarked, filled the old town below us, shopped or whatever, re-boarded their ship, and were off again when we had finished our climb are were back on street level to once again enjoy the near-empty streets. Perfect!

The first main interval is the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, which not only provided a rest for our legs, but served as a reference point for how high we were as we kept climbing further up.

The old fortress at the top gave us a well-deserved resting place, and shelter from a rain-shower that swept in just as we got to this point.

An opportune local seller was hawking his wares up here, and we seized on bottled water and a couple of beers, as we waiting out the rain, and took in the views.

The wall blends right into the terrain of the mountain-side above Kotor, however at night it is all lit up, reflecting into the water below. From where we were staying, across the Bay, we got a magical view of this each evening, after initially wondering what the ring of lights were on our first night.

jouljet notes
Serious Tip: Take water with you for the climb, as the only vendor we saw was right up the top. The humidity during the Summer months means you'll need to hydrate!
Cost: 2 euro each, paid at the entrance
Time Spent: We took a couple of hours to go up to the top and back, which included our stop at the top waiting out the rain.
Quirky Tip: Take the time to get some great photos, from all different perspectives, like through the wall, which was my favourite view.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Amy, And The Paparazzi Lessons The World Fails To Learn

Amy is every bit the tragic story of a girl caught up in addiction, and hounded by the media, to her death.

The tragedy of this documentary is that of gaining an insight into the struggles, the pressures, the insecurities, and the pain in someone with such natural talent is painful.

The moments of joy in the film are those capturing Amy Winehouse in her musical glory - such soul, and an incredible voice. The clips of live songs, recordings, and music grabs are beautiful. And a painful reminder of a life and talent cut short.

Plus, through home movies and random self-captures, we see an insight into the girl - friend, and teen figuring out who she is.

I wasn't fully aware of her bulimia, but this film captures the illness, and makes the struggle so real and relateable. Her depression, and then addiction after addition; her relationships and the turbulence that these brought her, in addition to the drugs.

Her deteriorating health, from her thinning frame with every stage, to the effects of her depression and her alcoholism and drug use, is on show as the years pass across the screen.

The scenes that stay with you are those with such heart-heavy consequences - the invasion of press into her tucked away hotel, when she had planned a full detox. Just maybe this could have worked..... The exploitation her father persisted with - that moment with fans at a holiday retreat, and his filming of her, is just unforgivable. The push to put her on stage for that train-wreck non-performance that went viral, but the build-up and understanding of what was going on for her at the time, is piercingly painful.

She was such a vibrant and funny character - her waiting for her Grammy win, on stage, and so real, with her comment about Timberlake's album title. Her sass, and raw commentary on life. But also this captured moment, when she is clean and sober, is painful as she relays that she

But the most tragic of all points to the film for me was the hounding of the press. The cameramen chasing her on the street, stopping her from leaving the house. Grabbing every move she made, right up in her face every time. A frenzy of cameras and swarms of paparazzi - can they even get good shots from such practices? They certainly contributed to Amy's demise, from this depiction.

Who buys these photos? And then who, in turn, buy the magazines filled with these photos?

Has the world not learned anything from the death of Diana?

Image credit for the Dismaland Cinderella, here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Wedding Cake-like Ornate Sarajevo Town Hall

One of the most prominent buildings in Old Sarajevo is the Town Hall, on the banks of the Miljacka River. Vijećnica, it's local name, housed the National and University library after World War II.

This building was set ablaze in 1992, in the Balkans War, which not only destroyed the building, but most of the library collection inside.

It was rebuilt, and re-opened in May 2014, and this is it, in all it's Austro-Hungarian architectural glory!

Monday, November 02, 2015

When Oh Mercy Talks About Love

The introduction to the new Oh Mercy album this year was via the intimate Parlour gig, one June Melbourne night.

Parlour has been labelled the "AirBnB for gigs", where you can sign up to have a band come and play in a space you may have for the occasion. This particular evening was in a art warehouse, a kind of communal work space, called Magic Johnston.

It was solo Alex, with an occasional accompanying violinist, in a space like a lounge room, where the gathering of people sat on cushions on the floor, or stood around the walls. Mulled wine kept us all warm!

He tested his new songs, mixed in with a couple of covers, and some older favourites. Songs like Sandy and Let Me Be Him, along with Lady Eucalyptus, My Man and Deep Heat. He was chatty and engaging. He also had copies of the new soon-to-be released album, which meant that I got my copy early!

The proper launch of When We Talk About Love was at Howler. I joined Nicole and Mary in the bandroom in time to catch a song and a half of the second opening act - and recall a bemused look between us we listened.

This fourth album from Alex Gow was written in the US mostly, and as he has told it, was him working through a break-up. Sad, grieving tunes of loss and longing.

This time also saw the introduction of his new band make-up, which actually made the sound of Oh Mercy quite different. To that end, the solo songs of this gig were probably my favourite, being more true to the band we have followed for so long.

Opening with I Don't Really Want To Know, it was a showcase of the new songs, with All Roads Lead To You, and Without You as stand outs. Plus Lay Everything On Me, Drums and Keith Street from previous releases.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Nauru Memory - The Fisher Boy At Sunset

Unbeknownst to us, this was to be one of our last memories on Nauru, before we were whisked off the island, and out of work. After arriving back on the island, Nat and I wandered down to the shore and the area of beach where we spent NYE, to take in the sunset.

Here, we encountered a couple of local kids, fishing for that night's family meal.

I am not sure that he caught anything - after this photo, he revealed to us that he had gotten his hook caught on the rocks below, and his line had snapped as a result.

For all the tough memories from Nauru, I will say this - Nauru has the best sky and sunsets I have ever seen, anywhere. Must be something about being a fleck in the middle of all that ocean.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Tram In Sarajevo

The trams in Sarajevo is one of the oldest networks in Europe, as it was actually Vienna's test line! Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was first opened in 1885, and they were horse-drawn.

Now they are quaint, old and rattly, but do the job with character.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Help Make The World A Little Better: Wrap Of Reads And Links

Since Nauru, I have been actively involved in advocacy in many ways. I am also working within the asylum seeker sector again, which means keeping up to date with policy, current issues and changes, and being aware of stories, conflicts and their impacts.

So I want to start sharing some of that reading, and knowledge. To help you, my readers, be more informed. To be aware of some of the issues, the current situation for the many people war, conflict and persecution impacts, both here in Australia and around the world.

So here is a snapshot of some things you can read, watch and do to stay informed, and help make the world a little better.


The world media has been awash with the situation in Syria, and the impact the ongoing war there has on the flow of people seeking safety in Europe. But can you name the place where more people have been killed this year in conflict?
It's Yemen, where Saudi bombings are happening every day, for the past 200 days.

You can read the 200 Days Of War in Yemen, by UN Dispatch
the statistics that Explosions Hurt More Civilians In Yemen Than In Syria This Year.

Yemen is the place of safety and refuge for many asylum seekers and refugees from parts of Africa like Somalia, and so targeting them causes more stress and turmoil for these people.


Watch this pretty amazing video on Human Rights, by Rights Info:


To your MPs!
Julian Burnside has shared these tips about keeping it short, and with a question, to gain a response and create some dialogue and thought.
Aussies writing to their Labor MP is particularly important between now and November 10, when the party is set to debate it's stance on offshore detention. So let them know what you think!


A Welcome To Australia walk next weekend, October 31, all around Australia. Details of gathering events can be found here, on the Facebook page.


The old bike that you no longer use, and is collecting dust, to the Australian Red Cross bike program - they will tinker with it to run like new, and provide it to an asylum seeker in the community in need. This gift of a bike may help a young person get to school every day, or to let someone ride to a potential new job for a new start at life. This makes a huge positive impact on people's lives!


Any spare change you can to the fund to support asylum seekers in the Australian community have access to legal assistance for their refugee claim process. Access to funded assistance has been cut, and so organisations who are helping in this most crucial process are doing so on the smell of an oily rag, and donations!

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre legal support and Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre (RILC) both here in Melbourne, servicing Victoria
RACS (Refugees Advice and Casework Service) in Sydney

Know of anything else? Share it in a comment below!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Exploring The Cobbled Streets Of Kotor

Kotor is the biggest village around the Bay of Kotor, but still the size of a village, really. It's grand entrance is moat and castle-like, as the Sea Gate was built when the area was under Venetian rule, and paints an initial impression that quickly vanishes from your mind once through the tunneled gateway.

After that first royal-like structure, the stature of the village is quite small, filled with streets of stores, cafes, squares and churches. The tallest points of the village are the church bells and domes, for which there are many.

The streets fill with cruise passengers when the daily ship arrives at port, but once they clear back out to their next stop, it's peace and quiet again.

Little squares to linger in, an unbelievable amount of churches to take in in awe, and a maze of little streets with regular village life going on around you.

Working our way through the streets, we eventually found the very far back street where the city walls began, ready for the climb up for a view across the town and Bay.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Twilight In Sarajevo Old Town

The old town of Sarajevo has charm and history, beauty and a diversity of architecture. An old feeling of a city with many stories to tell.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Did We Get Here, Australia? The Lasting Impact Of Politicising Tampa And SIEV X

It's 14 years this weekend since the sailing and subsequent discovery of the tragedy of the "SIEV X". This August it was the same anniversary of the Tampa affair. Both these events involving the boat journey of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia for protection have had profound effects on Australia's immigration policies and treatment of asylum seekers, and refugees.

The story of the Tampa affair is stepped out via these photos of the amazing Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children Ballarat, on their Spring Stroll last month.  Each card held by a grandmother sets out the main points.

The SIEV X - or so called 'Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X' as the Australian government of the day labelled it - was a boat that set off from a tiny fishing village in Indonesia with 421 passengers aboard. Overcrowded and unseaworthy, the boat sunk.

353 people are thought to have died in the water, including 146 children. These were reportedly families attempting to join other family members who had already made the journey to Australia. 45 people from the boat were rescued, and returned to Indonesia.

Evidence suggests that Australia knew the boat was there, in trouble, and did nothing to help the people on board.

You can read a full chronology of the SIEV X here.

These two on-water events happened amid an Australian election. John Howard used the Tampa story in his campaign, and whipped the media into a frenzy about 'boat people'. He then used another SEIV in the same October as his example of "children overboard", which was received by the boarder Australian community, but proved to be lies in later Senate Inquiry evidence.

Howard's solution for Tampa was the birth of the Pacific Solution, and the first use of the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru as a "processing centre", in a deal agreed on on September 10 2001.

The date before the Western world changed it's view of Muslims, and developed a never-before-seen awareness of terror and terrorism, as 9/11 in New York City happened. The climate for foreigners in Western nations, including Australia, changed.

Julian Burnside QC paints the impact of this world event, the treatment of the Tampa, and subsequent Australian fear-mongering about asylum seekers coming by boat in many speeches, as it was his full introduction to the refugee policy of Australia. You can read a transcript of his Hamer Oration here, delivered just last month.

The Howard government in full election campaign mode used this post-9/11 attacks fear to whip up further a public fear of 'boat people', linking those on the Tampa. Because there were Muslims onboard the Tampa. The old White Australia rhetoric was powerful to the voting age at the time.

The Muslims on the Tampa were mostly Hazaras from Afghanistan, actually fleeing the Taliban. But that fact would never be mentioned in the press buzz of fear of the day.

Most of those on the Tampa were transferred to a camp Nauru, and held there until 2004 when the refugees in this group were finally brought to Australia and placed in the community under restricted temporary conditions.

The notion of "classified" information about events such as the SIEV X, and today's call of "On-Water Matters", draws obvious parrallels in Australia's current turn back policy.

Nauru has been closed, reopened, closed, and reopened to it's current status - many men, women and children have currently been held there, now as declared refugees, since October 2013. The end of the current chapter of this blight on Australia's human rights records, treatment of the world's asylum seekers and refugees, and enduring legacy of the Tampa is not yet closed.

Additional Links:
How Tampa Become A Turning Point - Amnesty International Australia

Monday, September 07, 2015

Family Gathering, Birthday Celebration, and Discovering Beautiful Montenegro

In June last year, all four sisters gathered in Montenegro to celebrate our youngest's 30th birthday. This was no mean feat, with the discussions and organising of this starting many months before.

Firstly we needed somewhere affordable for Katie, the birthday girl, to travel to and enjoy, given that she was living in London at the time, and was about to wrap up her time there. We also wanted somewhere none of us had been before - and here we settled for, and fell in love with, the beauty and surprise of Montenegro.

Further research had us book a house for the week planned, on the edge of the Bay of Kotor, in the tiny village of Prčanj. Which was perfect, because with our hire cars we were close enough to explore the Bay, get into Kotor for supplies and sightseeing, but far enough away from the throes of tourists that seem to swarm every other day in the area.

The Bay of Kotor is stunning - a weirdly shaped body of crisp, clean, cool water, surrounded by the Alps, creates a quite, calm and still part of the world.

The little villages dotted around the bay each had local restaurants, many of which we walked to from our rented house, across the week. The food we sampled throughout the area was really good - squid ink dishes, arrays of local seafood, little dumplings

The water held much fascination - cold and refreshing for a dip, it also held the twinkles of the lights from Kotor each night, and we were in the perfect position to see the Old Wall lit up.

During the days the water was spectacular, taking in the views of the mountains. The wisps of clouds in the morning that would hang around for some time. The everyday goings on in the little villages - all so photogenic and worth taking the time to take it all in.

Our week was perfect, and meet all our needs and exceeded our expectations. Montenegro felt like such a travel find!

jouljet Notes
Serious tip: Go! Montenegro is one of the world's newest countries, and is affordable, has great food, and feels so fresh. It's beautiful!
Time spent: We spent a full week here, but included a couple of day trips - one across the border to Dubrovnik, one into Budva, and then another inland to the capital of Podgorica and one of the monasteries.
Cost: Our 5 bedroom house worked out to be $45 per night, per person.
Quirky tip: There are so many cute, run down buildings to check out and photograph. Actually, there are so many things to catch your eye - the boats, the water, the islands on the Bay of Kotor. Seriously stunning place!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Sarajevo Rose

The scars of a mortar shell filled with red resin, to mark the site where more than one person was killed during the Seige of Sarajevo. Powerful reminders dot the city streets.

This one was in a square, in front of a church. The bombs falling on the city were so many, and so destructive.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Black Beach, Red Beach Of Santorini

You'd be forgiven if you thought that the Greek Island of Santorini was all white-wash buildings and blue domes - because that is mostly the images you get as standard travel photos of this popular island.

Lots of the island is, of course, white buildings, blue church domes and church bells, bars and hotels, overlooking the caldera. But it is well worth the effort of heading to the other side of the island to check out the other gems of this volcanic rock. You will get away from some of the crowds, and it will also let you see everyday life going on by the little winding roads you need to take to trek across to see the other colours.

The black beach was the first of the two surprise colourations of sand I visited. Kamari was a feast for my eyes, after all the typical and expected colours of the rest of the island.

The volcanic pebble reminded me of walking on a beach in the UK - but these were hot! Of course, as black absorbs the sunlight!

This beach was a delight to visit, with the deckchairs all along the edge of the water, plus a promenade full of restaurants and shops, to allow you to make a day of it. There was also a regular boat that would take you around the mountain you could see, via the sea, to the other Black beach.

The other colour that is worth making the drive down to see is the Red Beach. Again, a force of the minerals of the island, the contrast of red cliffs and stones, and resultant beach, is pretty spectacular!

This one was not as easy to get to, and required a little bit of a hike up and down a slope to get in there once I found the right road and double checked that the nondescript carpark was indeed for the Red Beach.

This, of course, and the fact that it is toward the South-West tip of the island, means that there are even fewer people crowding your view and access to the water.

There is more to Santorini, if you go deeper afield on the island and look for it!

jouljet Notes
Serious Tip: Take the chance to see some more of Santorini, away from the tourist areas. This island has a thriving community away from the busy hospitality spots, and the people are seriously so friendly!
Time Taken: I spend most of an afternoon relaxing and taking in the Black Beach, but I also just stayed on that one beach - there is another one to explore if you want more black sand! Getting to the Red Beach from the car park took around 15 minutes on foot.
Cost: The bus from where I stayed in the centre of the island of Santorini to the Black Beach was less than 3 Euro. To get to the Red Beach I ended up hiring a car, due to timing on my last day - which was around 40 Euro, and allowed me to explore other spots in the area at a whim.
Quirky Tip: Down near the Red Beach on the island there is also an archaeological site, which was worth going into to see the relics.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Human Rights And Arts Festival 2015: Melbourne

This year's Human Rights Arts And Film Festival back in May served up many thought-provoking moments, and glimpses into the incredibly tough journeys many of our fellow man, and women, experience around the world.

Wolfskinder is about the forgotten children of World War II. The "Wolf Children" are the German children - orphans or displaced - who are walking, fleeing, and trying to find safety, through the country-side, through forests. In hiding, alone, and scared.
Facing things children should not have to face, and working out through each day how to survive.
It's clear, as the story continues, that other children are the only people that will help these children along the way. Adults either come to shot at the children, or are suspicious of them and wary of sharing any food they may have. The cobbled group of children that the film follows, which is ever changing and circumstances and tragedy hits, carry each other, find and share food for each other, keep watch as the others sleep.
Heartbreaking, and real. A tragedy of war not often focused on.

Breakfast Sessions were a new forum aspect of the Festival this year, and I attended the one on Refugees: An International Perspective. A panel of 4 experts in the area, including Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre and Rebecca Eckard from the Refugee Council, spoke about the lack of learning Australia takes from reviews of other countries, and of course talked about Australia's current policies of arbitrary, indefinite detention on and offshore.
This was paired with stories and scenarios from across the globe, and how other nations deal with refugees. The humanitarian efforts, and the sheer numbers some small nations are taking in, and providing safety to.
The Rohingya situation at sea at the time was highlighted in many examples, being the most persecuted minority in the world today, and a stunning fact that Australia had not settled any Rohingyan refugees for many, many years, was the stark reality of our current inhumanity in our dealings wit the refugee world issue. In addition to the future refugee crisis of climate change and it's impact on communities
The situation in Nauru was discussed. with the point about their dismantled law, and Australia's role of staying silence in the governance of this island nation, for their own political gains.

Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock 'n' Roll was an incredible and painful look at the music of pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodia. Vibrant, experimental, blues and jazz influenced rock, music scene, with such interesting characters and impressive instrumentation. So many of these stars were killed during the genocide, and with them, the musical scene that filled the bars and lounges of Phnom Penh. Tragic. A must view for anyone interested in the history of Cambodia, and also of music movements.

Transporting a full cinema of school aged kids for the CineSeeds screening of Bekas, which means 'those without family', to Kurdish Iraq at the time of Saddam Hussein rule. Inspired by a stolen glimpse of American cinema through a window, these boys gather the hope of making it over the far away hill, and to safety and a new life in America, with Superman. Kids doing kid things, having kid dreams and fantasy, as the tragic circumstances of their existence force a harsh reality onto their daily lives.

Lastly, I saw Slums: Cities Of Tomorrow, which also included a really interesting Q and A afterward. This is a documentary about the world's slums, and a look at the industry and the misery, the life and living, of these areas. Communities featured included the places that come to mind, like India and Middle East areas such as Morocco and Turkey. But it also featured the fascinating insight into people in New Jersey and Quebec, and the difficulties of the long-term homeless in Western society.

The Q and A highlighted some interesting reflections around sustainability of living, such as recycling, and living very simply, but also spoke about how the world at present has seemed to lost our way, in a community sense, in our constant strive for materialistic things, for that connectedness to the people around us, our neighbours and direct community, within our living spaces. We live in such a rush, we pass by these opportunities, that this film certainly highlighted as a means of survival for so many people.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sarajevo Tram Scene

The trams rambling around the streets of Sarajevo add to the city's charm. The network is actually one of the oldest in Europe because it was the test system for Vienna's trams.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Grand Building In The Heart Of Sarajevo

Old buildings like this line many of the main streets in Sarajevo. They have clearly been standing for such a long time - imagine what stories they hold.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Fountain At Pigeon Square

At the end of the coppersmith alley, in the Sarajevo Turkish quarter, is this little square with this ornate drinking fountain. The fountain was built in 1891, incredibly. The flocks of pigeons have probably been hanging around since then too!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Where The Great War Began....

Looking down the Miljacka River to the point on the opposite bank that played such a significant part in the Great War. Here, at the Latin Bridge was were Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, which triggered the beginning of World War I.

Sarajevo is full of history, war, sadness, memories, and resilience. So interesting!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Glimpsing The Santorini Windmill At Sunset

Sunsets on Santorini continued to impress, with the view from the edge of the land jut into the Mediterranean at the Oia end of the island.

The image of the iconic windmill at the sea's edge here at Oia was the symbol of the sunset we were about to enjoy, and gave the view a focal point.

After walking from Fira, I made my way through the small, cobbled laneways of Oia to the peak of the island - with everyone else on Santorini, it seemed!

After having the Fira sunset practically all to myself, here at Oia I was battling on my tiptoes to get the view I wanted, with swarms of tourists, all vying for the chance to get their sunset photos.

Every available vantage point was taken, as the sun started to make it's progress towards the water. Rooftops, balconies and terraces were filled, and it seemed like many people had been there at their spot for some time, to secure the view. Being a solo traveler, though, I could work my way through the crowd, and find a good spot on my own.

The colour hue show that nature put on for us all to take in was spectacular, leaving no doubt that these sunsets are the most beautiful in the world. You just can't beat the sun dipping into the ocean.

The overwhelming crowd ooed and ahhed as the colours changed, and the sun disappeared. We were lucky on this evening too for some random clouds across the sky, which I think always makes a sunset more impressive, catching and enhancing the colour show.

Once the actual sun had disappeared from view, much of the crowd headed back into the streets of Oia to the restaurants and market stalls. This gave me a slightly better view of the terraces below, and the hive of activity all around this section of the little town.

So very pretty, this sunset is one not to miss on a visit to the Greek Islands.

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