Saturday was a day for celebration but also a day of reflection and great shame.
I was in the small central Queensland town of Biloela, at the annual Flourish Festival, organised by Integreat Queensland. This is the second year of the festival, that began in Gladstone and has ended its journey throughout central Queensland in Biloela; where the local community welcomed back the Nadesalingam family over 4 years after the family were given 10 minutes to pack their bags and forcibly moved by Australian Border Force Agents to an immigration detention centre in Melbourne. The Tamil family have become perhaps the most famous example of Australia’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers.
It is very important to feel uncomfortable feelings and listening to the story of this family’s treatment is very uncomfortable. But sitting in that discomfort is an important part of understanding the difficulties that people in our community face.
The local community was shocked and soon angered at the treatment of the family. But the story does not end there. It was out of that anger that the energy for positive action and change was propelled.
We often do not want to ‘understand’ things that make us feel uncomfortable. But that choice is also a decision.
The positive outcome of Saturday’s return of this beautiful family back to their hometown of Biloela in central Queensland is that change is possible and when we collectively advocate for positive change and have the patience and persistence to deal with a system that struggles to deal with the ‘new’ we can make a difference.
This story put Australia back on the radar of the United Nations, and our history is not pretty…But it is in facing our history, and the ‘terrible ‘ treatment of our indigenous, migrants and NON-toxic female & males in our community by the toxic leaders who somehow have the privilege of speaking for us all.
Let’s build a community we are proud of and let’s ensure the leaders reflect the views of the community. Let’s not be ashamed, let’s be proud, proactive, stand for something, live lives of conviction and together our small efforts can make the world a better place.
The Flourish festival was a huge success, and showed what a small community could do, and in doing so it not only changed the lives of one family it garnered the spirit of the Nation and the world and the local community was there to see it all unfold on the world stage.
Flourish it seems is here to stay.
Board Member – Integreat Queensland