Becoming Australian: An uncertain path

Samuel Holland

Every year people come to Australia from all over the world looking for a fresh start. For a better life where they can feel safe and, in turn, contribute productively to their community. But, sadly, our government does not uphold that side of the bargain. 

Yesterday my best friend became an Australian citizen. This has been a long time coming, I’ve known him for just shy of a decade and he only just received the honour. But this story is not about him. 

Yesterday I also spoke to an Asian immigrant to Australia. She chose to move to Australia because she has family who came here after the Vietnam war and has since been a productive member of the Forde community for more than 2 years. 

She spoke to me about how she came here to escape an abusive ‘friend’ who intended to subject her to human trafficking. She didn’t want to lose her autonomy and she wanted to provide better opportunities for her future children: So that they can have the life that she never could. 

But since coming here she has faced challenge after challenge from what she described as “a country that wants to help me, but a government that hates me.” 

She told me of several stories of how the incumbent MP, Bert van Manen, refused to speak to her. “I’m not an Australian citizen, so he didn’t see any value in speaking to me; I can’t vote for him anyway.” She spoke to several agencies for help and none delivered. She even told me that for the first year she was here, if she didn’t have family here to support her she would have had to succumb to doing the very thing she fled home for in first place just to survive. 

I wish I could tell you that this was where we reach the happy part of her story. But, after about an hour, she confided in me that just as she was starting to establish herself in our community she was contacted by immigration to fill in some paperwork. Although she had worked diligently over the past year to learn English her reading skills were no where near the level necessary to understand the complex legal documents she was given. So, after several weeks of saving, she paid an Australian lawyer to review the documents. 

She told me that the lawyer had promised her that the documents were submitted and that could continue her new to live her new life in Australia. And she believed them. 

But, sadly, they misled her. So when she eventually was summonsed to court she thought that it was a part of renewing her visa. Only to find out on the day that this was not the case. 

She tells me that she hasn’t lost hope – apparently the judge was very understanding of her scenario. But the point is that it should never have got to this. 

Just like the Biloela family: Just because someone isn’t Australian doesn’t mean that Australia doesn’t owe them anything. In my view, those who actively are part of Australian communities give so much more back than the support we provide them as a government. 

And it’s for this reason I believe that the people of Forde need a leader who will advocate for them regardless of whether or not they have voted for them. . . Or whether or not they can vote for them. Because Forde, like every other electorate in the country, is a community first and an electorate second. 

The piece was written and authorised by Samuel Holland. 3/137 City Rd, Beenleigh, QLD. 4207. The views expressed do not necessarily represent Mirage News nor his party in general. 

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