The Lottery of Life

Dear Mr Abbott,

I was intrigued to read of your comments at the National Adoption Awareness Week function, where not only did you promise to reform the system for overseas adoption, but you made a very sage (and somewhat startling) revelation:

“To be born in Australia is to win the lottery of life and we would like to see more people winning the lottery of life by becoming Australians”.

Sage, because you are 100% correct. The “lottery of life” is what dictates where we are born, and the circumstances in which we live. How lucky we are to be Australian.

Startling, because I never expected to hear you acknowledge that we who live in this country do so at the mercy of fate, and that many have not been granted such circumstances through no fault of their own.

In fact, I suspect I’m not the only one who finds this statement somewhat ironic. I’m sure the irony is keenly felt by many of the nearly 10,000 asylum seekers in some form of immigration detention in Australia, the 22,873 asylum seekers in the community on Bridging Visas, and the 1,100 asylum seekers on Manus Island. No doubt they would agree wholeheartedly that “to be born in Australia is to win the lottery of life”. I’m sure they would also love to see Australia open its arms to more people to whom “the lottery” has not been so kind.

While we’re talking about children, let us not forget the 2,815 children in some form of immigration detention, and the 1,811 on community bridging visas. The lottery of life has been particularly harsh to them – both before and after their arrival in Australia. As you know, the circumstances into which they were born was beyond their control. They and their families face persecution due to their race, religion, nationality or other factors, such that we – so blessed to be born in peaceful, stable Australia – cannot imagine having to face.

You need not scour foreign countries in search of small children to be swept up and rescued. Many have, quite literally, arrived on our doorstep. Most have been cruelly handled by life up until this point, and they have made perilous journeys to seek our assistance.

The opportunity is there, Mr Abbott. The opportunity to “see more people winning the lottery of life by becoming Australians”.

While you may not control the lottery of life, you’re holding the dice when it comes to the future of thousands of people. Thousands of would-be Australians, who have taken a very difficult journey for a stab at the jackpot. A journey where the odds are against them all the way.

It’s time to see the dice fall in their favour. 

Immigration detention statistics for October 2013, via: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/immigration-detention-statistics

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