For my birthday this year, I want to give gifts rather than receive them.
I am so lucky to have been born and live in this peaceful, prosperous country, to have a wonderfully supportive family, to have safe and open access to education for as long as I want to, to say pretty much what I like where I like, and to have many excellent friends of different ethnicities and backgrounds.
There are lots of people in the world who have not been nearly as lucky as me - they were born and live in war-torn countries, or where they are not free to be themselves; who live in fear of their lives and the lives of those they love every day. Some muster the courage (and funds!) to escape, to seek refuge in countries like mine, to share and build peace and prosperity.
Australia is built on our native peoples' lands, and the work and effort of all Australians, whether born here or overseas. We are a nation of immigrants, and it saddens me that our government is indulging in dog whistle politics, trying to scare us about new people arriving. We keep people, including children, in "immigration detention". We are learning to be selfish and judgmental.
This year I want to do something to help - to prove to the thousands of people seeking safety and opportunity in Australia that most Australians do care, do want them here, and do recognise the achievements and contributions of refugees past and future. But what could I do? I do not have much money to spend, nor do I have much energy for activism or physical assistance. But I can crochet :)
So, I have launched my "Teddies for Refugees" shop on Etsy today, for my birthday. For each teddy sold, $10 will be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, an organisation providing practical assistance and advocacy to those seeking a new life in Australia. I have chosen this organisation because of the great work it does, and their work fits well with my career in the legal profession, as well as my practical nature. If you want to learn more about what the ASRC does, visit their website at www.asrc.org.au
My birthday wish is for my friends to share my shop link, so that we have the best chance of selling as many teddies as possible to help the ASRC.
At the moment it's only available to Australian customers because of ridiculous postage costs to anywhere else, but if you are not in Australia and want to help those fleeing terrible situations, I encourage you to contact a refugee organisation in your area and ask them what they need the most.
As the Australian national anthem itself says:
"For those who've come across the seas,
we've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
to Advance Australia Fair."