Help for Asylum seekers: can you write to one to give some hope?

Earlier this week, footage obtained by Fairfax media showed asylum seekers being attacked by security guards, just hours before Reza Berati was killed inside the Manus Island detention centre.1 They were attacked whilst trying to escape from the detention centre after they were told there would be no hope of resettlement for them outside PNG.

Australia is fast building an international reputation for our treatment of asylum seekers, but sadly, not one we can be proud of. While the actions of our Government fail to reflect our nation’s values of compassion and a fair go, we can lead the way in the meantime by demonstrating these values ourselves.

~ Read on for a call to action from Julian Burnside AO QC, Australian barrister and human rights advocate, on behalf of GetUp. Your details have not been shared with him or anyone else. ~


To any of you who might like to participate in this wonderful project:

In June of last year I received a letter from a courageous, young Iranian man who fled persecution in his country, which led to him being detained inside Sydney’s Villawood detention centre.

He had spent the last three and a half years of his life in detention, during which time he’d suffered more than any young man should and seen many of his friends, who could no longer bear the burden of detention, die or return voluntarily to face persecution.

He wrote asking for help. This is part of his story:
“When I set foot on Australian soil, I had felt I set foot in a land where the people there would see me as a human being who is reaching out a hand towards them for help, but… now it is [42 months]

I need help, but my voice is not reaching anywhere and I am extending my hands seeking help from you.”
This young man, like so many others who are currently detained in Australian centres, could be forgiven for seeing Australia as a country, which doesn’t abide by its international obligations under the Refugee Convention, or thinking Australians might be unwelcoming people, who don’t care about the plight of those less fortunate.

We know that’s far from the case.

On a daily basis I encounter the kind of Australians, whom I know represent this country and its values. Those with hearts as big as our land and bright as our sun. Those who embody our ethos of being the land of the fair go – a country with “boundless plains to share”.

Another letter I received from a person held in detention ended with the words:
“Please write again. Please do not forget us; we are human.”
This is where you can help. Will you be part of my letter writing campaign and show some of the world’s most vulnerable people that we’re capable of compassion and empathy?

Find out how to get involved:

In February GetUp members, along with thousands of Australians, lit a candle for all those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, under our government’s asylum seeker policies. Together, we attended Light the Dark vigils across the country and showed Australia, and the world, what we’re capable of – compassion, love and hope that we can make a difference.

Now we need to show asylum seekers that there are Australians who are thinking about them and are doing everything they can to fight these brutal policies put in place by our so-called leaders.

Will you write to an asylum seeker on Manus Island or Nauru and let them know, we have not forgotten them and we care?

In the early 2000s, I initiated a similar letter-writing campaign and it received extremely encouraging feedback, proving to be, not only valuable in helping keep up the spirits of asylum seekers, but also a great way to help Australians understand what our detention system means in simple human terms.

Will you help us do it again?

Yours in hope,


[1] Reza Barati death: Papua New Guinea nationals attacked asylum seekers on Manus Island, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April 2014
GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you’d like to contribute to help fund GetUp’s work, please donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to GetUp has recently updated our Privacy Policy, to read the policy go to: To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here. Authorised by Sam Mclean, Level 2, 104 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.

Back again, a story as promised:

Here is one story as I promised you, from Tasmania, where my naughty youngest brother met up with me (with his patient wife). My version won’t be as funny as hearing his laconic voice telling the story; but picture Angus, my seafaring brother, fashionably unshaven with beard going grey and a face that lights up with a large mischievous grin.

Angus uses a taxi service to take him from the ship to home and back, so he gets to know the taxi drivers, who also like to tell a good yarn:

Four prostitutes on their night off needed a taxi home.

‘Drop me off here,’ says Fifi.

‘Drop me here,’ says Amber,

‘Drop me here, Shelley will pay, we take it in turns,’ says Crystal.

Finally Shelley gives directions as to her stop. When she arrives, she opens the door and rushes out of the cab with out paying.  She’s struggling to run, as her skin-tight dress is impeding her progress. In her haste she falls.

The taxi driver says, ‘that’ll take the bark off ‘er.’ He backs the taxi back to catch her up. All he sees is her ripping the dress off which reveals her completely naked. ‘There she is, you could see what she’d had for breakfast!’ She’s off like a shot, disappearing leaving me empty handed.  ‘All I’m left with is an indelible image of those ripe cherries tattooed on her boobs.’


Cherry love



Cherry love

Revisiting the past:

Returning to my birth- place has always been an interesting visitation. Now that my parents and Chris’ parents are dead, the town has lost much of its allure.

Tasmania remains special; as for me, people are more important than places. Coming from a large family there are many cousins and a few straggling aunts and one remaining uncle in the north of the island. Three of my siblings have migrated south to the beautiful capital of Hobart nestled between Mount Wellington as its backdrop and the water. Unfortunately this time I am not able to get south.

Devonport is on a river and the sea. My youngest brother and his wife are also going to meet me there, to celebrate my mother’s youngest sister’s 89th birthday. These days frailty is a concern with the older generation, so it’s good to be able to visit them, while we still can.

Angus, my youngest sibling, is Master of a ship that travels from Melbourne, Devonport to King Island. He has always loved the sea, and has made it his life’s work. He is ten years younger than me, and therefore able to keep me up with things that would otherwise pass straight over my head.

For instance: The Madam at East Devonport won Tattslotto. When she went to buy cars for her ‘girls’ she asked for 10 cars. The man didn’t believe her, and was a bit short with her. So, she went to the car place next door and bought ten pink cars. (Have forgotten the make). She then asked for enough petrol to drive passed the next door’s agency, showing off her new car. No doubt giving him the finger.

Angus picks up on such tidbits, so hopefully I’ll get some news for you, on my return at the end of the week. Have a good one!



Another Children’s story ready for illustration:

Willy Wally Wagtail and Rainbow  Written by Barbara Pyett © 2013

 Have you ever seen a willy wagtail? 

He’s a sporty, black backed and white chested little bird that never stops long in one place. He cocks his head on one side to look at you.

 Our Willy Wally wagtail lives in a clearing with lots of other birds and animals.

‘Why does everyone look so sad?’ he wondered as he looked at his animal friends through the gloom. No longer did he see his friend Sun or Rainbow coming to visit.

 Willy Wally hopped about trying to cheer his friends up, but it

wasn’t working and he was beginning to feel sad too.

 That night Will Wally had the most beautiful dream, full of sunshine and light. When he woke-up he realized he must make a plan to bring light back into the clearing. Those trees must be trimmed back. Perhaps echidna could lend him some prickles to help pin the branches back.

 Echidna was a slow, tired ball of prickles. After explaining his plan to lighten their clearing Willy Wally asked,

‘Have you any spare spines, to pin back the trees?’

 ‘I think that would be most unwise as I don’t think I’d be able to grow any more. Also, I might catch cold!’ echidna cautiously added.

 ‘I shall just have to think of something else,’ said Willy Wally.

 ‘Here comes possum, I’ll ask her.’

‘Possum, could you help trim the trees back with your nice sharp teeth?’

‘I’m much too busy eating bush tucker! If you have any sweet fruit I’d be only too happy to help,’ said possum.

 Rabbits hopped about, but just kept disappearing into their many burrows, so he couldn’t ask them.

 Willy Wally thought some more. There must be an answer.

‘What about Rainbow, I’ll ask her for help.’

 Waiting for the rain seemed to take ages.  A raindrop fell on his head.  Willy Wally flew up to whisper his request to Rainbow, hoping he wouldn’t be refused again.

 ‘Please can you help us Rainbow? The sun isn’t getting into our clearing and we are all getting sad because it is so dark.  Could you come and help lift the branches so that we can trim the branches and leaves to let the light through?’

 Rainbow beamed, ‘I’d love to help! You can use me as a ladder so that when I hold the branches up, you can all trim away, and that should make a big difference. I’ll show you!’

 A meeting was held with all of the bush animals, birds and insects.

Everyone wanted to help, even echidna and possum, as they could see what a good idea it was. As Rainbow pushed with all her might the sun shone through the opening.

 Rainbow called, ‘You will have to work quickly as I can’t stay long!’

 The clearing was set in motion as everyone worked quickly, trimming the willing branches while Rainbow held them in position.

The bush buzzed with activity and excitement, surrounded by singing noises and gnawing and sawing.

 As they completed the task Venus shone in the evening sky.

 The next day as the sun came up the animals decided to do something to show Rainbow how grateful they were for her help.

Rainbow’s colours were faded after such a long stay in one spot.

‘We’ll make lotions and potions to paint and revive your colours,’ they all chorused.

 ‘We’ll paint purple from the wild orchids,’ said the rabbits as they scampered and hopped up Rainbow’s bow.

 ‘We’re next,’ said the birds as they splashed red raspberry juice into the red section. Possums dribbled orange into the next part.

 ‘We’ll prepare yellow,’ said the bees as they busied themselves soaking the yellow section with honey.

 ‘We’ll make green for you to paint,’ said the ants crushing grass juice for the wallabies to apply.

 The smell of eucalyptus filled the air as the koalas added their blue-green potion made from the cut off gum leaves.

 Blue melted into purple from the wild flowers and berries, crushed by the rabbits, which hopped      amongst the slow wombats and echidnas.

 ‘My colours are brighter than they were before!’ Rainbow beamed.

 All of the animals, insects and birds stood around in the now sunny

clearing, encircling Rainbow, as Willy Wally sat on top of the bow with his head cocked to one side, admiring his friend’s smiling faces. Willy Wally slid down the bow feeling warm inside.

 Everyone spontaneously began to sing a thank you song to Rainbow. The trees clapped their leaves in time, feeling lighter after their trim.

 Rainbow thanked the bush creatures and melted away to rest awhile, until she was needed after another shower of rain, to brighten another grey day.

The end

Short Synopsis:

This story is written as a picture book; to not only show how things are better when we cooperate with one another, but it will also help young children learn their colours.












Good Friday: Junk food junkie

Chips! That’s what used to tempt me most. Cooked to that crisp golden state, with smells wafting tantalizingly to tempt the taste buds, till they could not be resisted. Spending my Sunday school money, buying 6d worth of chips, on the very odd occasion when my mother was not at church. The fish and chips shop was one of the very few shops open in those days at the weekend.

If chips are soggy, they can sit uneaten, untouched. Temptation is probably more basic these days. Using butter for instance. There’s nothing like a hot bun with butter, or a crumpet with butter and honey, creating sticky hands and chin. Everything boils down to moderation. Not going overboard. That is why I resist chocolate, as I find it very difficult to have just one.

Genius and Rapture:

Going by train to the city has its advantages. As it takes a little over an hour each way, one is able to read. Today I started a book Janet, (an author/ teacher/ friend), lent me yesterday. Such friends are rare and precious!

What a delight to find such an interesting book. It is called ‘Dear Genius’, The letters of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. I wonder how many of you have read it?

Ursula Nordstrom, (UN), worked for Harper & Brothers, New York, for more than forty years. She became the first woman elected to the Board of Directors, Harper & Brothers in 1954. She was a most outspoken and caring editor in the Department of books for Boys and Girls for many years.

This is a quote to give you an idea of the sort of person she was:

“Asked pointedly by Anne Carroll Moore, the New York Public Library’s powerful superintendent of work with children, what qualified her, a non librarian, nonteacher, non-parent, and noncollege graduate to publish childrens’ books, Nordstrom just as pointedly replied, “Well, I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.”

Her letters reveal her strength of character. It is exciting to hear of someone who would support writers she thought had talent, even during their difficult, non- productive times. I shall enjoy reading further…

Our trip to the city was to meet our new grand daughter, Hazel Elsa. Such perfection, and it makes one realize that miracles still happen. She was born yesterday and her new parents are understandably besotted, as are her numerous grandparents.