One injustice too many

PENNY MULVEY

Every day as we engage in the world – be it through social media, over a coffee with a friend, listening to the radio in the car, pouring over a newspaper – we are confronted by issues which speak to our humanity.

Some – such as the outing of the Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as a sex fiend – anger us. Others – the humanitarian crisis in poverty-stricken Bangladesh as the persecuted Rohingya people flee their homeland Myanmar, or a retired accountant becoming the largest mass murderer in modern US history – fill us with despair.

Although shocking, often the ‘everyday’ nature of news means it has the potential to slide over us and leave us unmoved. It can become yet more white noise in a society overloaded with information, misinformation, ‘fake news’ and celebrity entertainment.

However, each and every day individuals are impacting the world for the good – humanitarian organisations working with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh; people reaching out to their neighbours isolated by language and religion; individuals visiting prisoners and detention centres; a schoolchild defending a fellow student being targeted by a bully.

The October Crosslight featured one injustice that has already galvanised many – the story of Florence and Sheryil Allen (mother and sister of Synod employee Jackie Vanderholt).

The Allens have been granted an eight-week extension to their deportation as Jackie recovers from major surgery. At the time of writing, 80-year-old Florence and her daughter Sheryil, will be forced to leave the security of their extended family by 30 November and return to India, where they have no familial support.

Their application for permanent residency was denied because it was ruled Sheryil’s autism is a potential burden to the Australian taxpayer.

However, government legislation acknowledges that compassion can still win out over economics. Section 351 of the Migration Act 1958 provides the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection cause to intervene in circumstances which may result in irreparable harm and continuing hardship to an Australian citizen or family unit.

The story of Florence and Sheryil and Jackie is not just white noise. Their extended family will be torn apart by this injustice. Each of us has a voice; we have a heart and soul. How do I use mine? Surely it is to bring light.

“For the Lord your God… defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:17-18

Please consider writing to your local federal MP and asking them to join the effort to keep Florence and Sheryil in Australia. You can find an appropriate letter template by clicking here.

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