The other side to Canberra: a big heart on show

There is a so-called Golden Rule often referred to by the religious among us: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Unbreakable Threads: The true story of an Australian mother, a refugee boy and what it really means to be a family

Photo: Supplied

While Australia is criticised globally for it’s treatment of asylum seekers, in Canberra there has always been two sides to the story. Up on the hill parliamentarians continues to treat these people like illegal aliens. Down on the ground, regular Canberrans are taking the biblical saying to heart, pushing back against harsh and inhumane government policies particularly offshore detention.

Canberrans are inviting asylum seekers and refugees into our homes and to share our hobbies, in the hope that we can rekindle some sort of feeling of warmth and humanity.

There are many examples, including the heartwarming story from the past week of a Canberra family informally adopting a young Afghan asylum seeker, providing an alternative to life in detention. Emma Adams, already a mother to three boys, took the 16-year-old into her home and has raised him for the past four years.

On the cover of Emma's book about the story, Unbreakable Threads, a quote from revered author Jackie French stands out: “Read this and weep, and then make a promise: we, as Australians, must regain our humanity.”

That kind of compassion is also illustrative of the story in today's paper, about a woman running a fantastic initiative called Girls on Bikes.

The program teaches migrant women to ride, a skill that most Canberrans take for granted.

Grassroots organisations in the nation’s capital run plenty more projects to try to regain that humanity, including the Welcome Dinner Project, refugee soccer tournaments, and grants to allow newly arrived migrants to study.

These are the things that illustrate the continuing compassion in our communities, despite the lack of morals in our government.

While individual initiatives give cause for hope, at the end of the day it’s up to the federal government to show the world that Australia is humane, that we do have morals. The government needs to recognise that for the majority of Australians, the treatment of asylum seekers is deeply uncomfortable.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The sooner parliamentarians start treating these people like humans, the better.

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