A response to New Mothers on Suicide Watch at Christmas Island:
I think about my story as a new mother. I was living in London when I was became pregnant with my first son.
It was with sadness that I told my employer that there was no way I would ever give birth to my child without grandparents close by. My decision was made. I would fly back to Australia.
I did so when I was seven months pregnant. I had family to feed me for a month before I moved into an empty house to prepare for the birth of my son.
What a far cry my experience was from the experience of new mothers who board a boat because it seems to them to be less precarious than staying in a war-torn country.
Mine has been the privilege of being born in the right place to people who once had the chance to move away from dire poverty and a precarious situation. My parents’ parents got the chance to start again.
I fear for the mothers of babies who are learning to crawl in rooms with only one square meter of space.
What sort of start do these women have as mothers? What sort of start do their children have? Is it any wonder many are suicidal?
Why is it so hard for those in power to see asylum seekers, particularly mothers and children, as people? Does this mean they would have to change their policies, and, God forbid, make allowances they hadn’t foreseen?
I applaud Abbott’s announcement not to go ahead with changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Still, as a country, when it comes to asylum seekers, we have a long way to go.