I have been reading a lot of other people’s thoughts around Australia Day. It has given me cause to think on why I have come to the position I have regarding immigration to Australia in its various forms.
When I first went to Nauru and the processing centre I found walking through the camp full of men who were not my skin colour, who did not speak my language or largely share my worldview/ faith very confronting. I realised that I had an innate racism, based on fear of those who were different, from growing up in a largely white Australia (the Sutherland Shire remains the most racially homogenous area of Australia). It was a salutary lesson for me because I would have said prior to this that I didn’t have a racist bone in my body.
Some months later, in a conversation with a Nauruan lady on our team I said that I was aware that in myself I had an assumed superiority over the Nauruans because of my colour and my corresponding access to better education and an advanced culture. My Nauruan friend could see this in us ex-pats and accepted it. It was terrible to recognise this in myself and I apologised but realised that I had been unconsciously raised to believe this. All I can hope for in myself is to continue to recognise this failing and try to not unconsciously act out of it.
I love Australia. I think it is the best country in the world and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be born here. I really want it to be better than it is. My time on Nauru and mixing every day with people both on our team and amongst the asylum seekers who were a different skin colour, a different culture, had a different faith or worldview and who spoke languages I didn’t understand has changed me in many ways. And I’m glad I’ve had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.