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Kids and Capuchins

While children may lack the cynicism that comes with age, the sophistication that comes with experience, or the confidence that comes from success, they have a more unsullied, innate view of what is right and wrong.

They are resilient creatures who can survive the worst of circumstances if they know they are loved and they have the basic necessities for existence. They want to please, they want to be accepted, they want to do well and have hope for the future, and they want everyone to just get along.

I remember going to watch my children run in their primary school’s cross country. There were a couple of disabled kids competing. As they entered the school for the final stretch to the finish line, long after the other competitors and accompanied by a few helping friends, all the other kids spontaneously formed an honour guard to cheer them home. There were smiles and high fives and a wonderful feeling of pride as these kids crossed the finish line. I looked over at their mothers and they, like many of us, were crying.

These children overcame huge physical and mental barriers to have a go with the encouragement and support of their peers. Their tenacity was commendable and their achievement undeniable.

When I read of 12-year-old Clare Fall’s letter to Tony Abbott regarding the defunding of the Paralympic soccer team, I was again inspired by our children’s sense of justice. This young lady very eloquently expressed her dismay at the decision and forcefully presented a case for its recision.

Sadly, Tony Abbott failed dismally in giving this heartfelt plea the respect it deserved in his generic ‘pat on the head’ form letter response.

Considering he gave $10 million to the Manly Sea Eagles, which just so happen to be in his electorate and he is the number 1 ticket holder, and $5 million to the Murdoch owned Brisbane Broncos, as well as an $882 million tax refund to Rupert because he has good accountants, perhaps those two successful football clubs might see their way clear towards coming up with the $175,000 that the government has stripped from the pararoos. Maybe Cadbury might like to sponsor them out of the $16 million that they were given – it would be a nice gesture considering the profits they make.

I have also been inspired by the fight by the kids of Woodville High to bring back their friends who Scott Morrison has taken from their home and friends and incarcerated, seemingly on a whim as the boys had done nothing wrong.

These young people have mounted a campaign in all forms of media and made representation to anyone who will listen. Even though they are scared and angry and upset, they have spoken with clarity and compassion about this injustice. They have put names and faces to these “illegals” who are just two 16-year-old boys trying to make their way without the help of family. Their friends and teachers and carers have spoken of two diligent young men who were an asset to their community.

And they are getting international recognition of their efforts, even if they are met by stony silence from Mr Morrison.

The Hong Kong Justice Centre reported:

“The spirit, tenacity and capacity for activism shown by young people in the face of adversity never ceases to amaze me and motivate me in my work. I am currently being inspired by a campaign emerging from Australia, #twotoomany, which sees students of Woodville High School, Adelaide, mobilise on and offline to put pressure on their government to release their two Vietnamese refugee school friends from detention.

As well as fervent social media activity, the young activists behind the campaign are collecting signatures for a petition to Scott Morrison, immigration minister; are talking eloquently to the media and speaking passionately on the issue in the South Australian Youth Parliament. It has all the ingredients of a successful and high level political campaign, yet the activists are not seasoned lobbyists or politicians, but high school and university students outraged at what’s happening to their friends and displaying tactical wisdom beyond their years.”

The same article speaks of the Glasgow Girls who were seven high school students at Drumchapel High School in Glasgow.

“When the girls arrived at school one day to find that their fellow pupil, 15-year-old Agnesa Murselaj, a Roma from Kosovo, had been forcibly removed with her family by immigration officers in a dawn raid, her school friends Amal from Somalia, Roza from Kurdistan, Ewelina, a Polish Roma and local Drumchapel teenagers Emma, Jennifer and Toni-Lee, banded together to campaign for her release.

What started as a school petition grew into a significant and targeted human rights campaign, with the eloquent and motivated girls succeeding where adults, NGOs and politicians had failed, lobbying the Scottish Government, the UK Home Office, capturing the imagination of the media and the support of their local community.”

Our students are also at the forefront of the fight for an affordable education, protecting the benefits that their parents enjoyed for future generations. In response, Coalition MPs have stopped giving lectures at universities.

Our young people are leading the way in the fight for the disabled, asylum seekers, equal opportunity to an affordable education, and they also do much of the campaigning to save the environment. It seems to me that our children could teach this ‘adult’ government a lot about what is truly important.

Monkeys could also give them a hint what might happen if they continue down this path of cruelty, injustice, and inequity.



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  1. Mandy Toczek McPeake

    Well Done Kaye Lee for highlighting Tony Abbotts appalling, insensitive stock letter reply to an impassioned plea by a young visually impaired girl regarding the defunding of the Pararoos our Paralympic soccer team currently 12th in the world. I have posted both on Facebook – please others do the same!

  2. lincolnschultz

    Whenever I worry about the future of the world or when people denigrate Generation Y, I think of Malala Yousafzai or the Two Too Many campaign – Gen Y have a sense that anything and everything is possible and they well equipped with the tools and the numbers to make it so.

  3. Kaye Lee

    The Woodville High campaign made the UK press as well.

    “The boys were taken on Thursday June 26 after school while they were at their carer’s home playing Xbox.

    ‘There was a knock at the door and four people were at the door – two federal police and two immigration officers,’ said Meredith Edwards, the principal of Woodville High School, which the boys attended. She has been in contact with one of the boys via phone calls over the last month.

    The boys were handed letters dated the same day:

    ‘The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [Scott Morrison] has made a decision that your residence determination is no longer in the public interest,’ the letter reads.

    ‘As such the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has exercised his public interest power… to revoke your residence determination.’

    Ms Edwards said the boys had not broken any of the conditions of their community detention, which require them to attend school, abide by the law and not to make public comments and were given no reasons as to why their residence had been revoked.

    She described the boys as ‘highly academic and focused on success,’ and said they would make ‘incredibly loyal citizens’.

    When they received the letter, Ms Edwards said the boys were distressed and asked what they had done wrong, to which one of the officers replied: ‘You haven’t done anything wrong, this is just what the minister wants.’

    ‘That’s the most distressing thing, they don’t understand what they’ve done. A lot of them thought when they were placed in community detention, that meant they were worthy of getting a protection visa,’ said Ms Edwards.

    Read more:

  4. Lee

    Let’s hope these kids enrol to vote as soon as they are eligible and don’t forget which politicians/parties considered them unimportant.

  5. MIssPamela

    I have shared this on the TwoTooMany / Bring back the Woodville Kids site. All the young people you write about give hope for the future.

  6. vanders2014

    This again confirms this government is cruel and unfeeling. Nothing and no one counts in their eyes unless they get something out of it. I hope he enjoys his box seats at the football paid for by the disabled soccer team. They will not be forgiven for their slash and burn policies against the defenseless disabled and elderly. I even believe they would do the same to their own relatives.
    I hope there is a way to raise the money so they can go and play.

  7. Gregory T

    It’s disheartening in the least, that our politicians look at us, as less then monkeys.

  8. Graeme Rust

    Laughed at the bit about coalition MPs not going to give lectures at uni’s , those young people are probably ten times smarter or more than those pollies, those idiot pollies should get the students to lecture to them, that way we might finish up with half intelligent coalition pollies.

  9. mars08

    Gillian Triggs is president of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

    [Professor Gillian Triggs] says there has been a spike in serious cases of self-harm amongst new mothers, that babies are not developing as they should, and that almost all of the children have trouble recovering from illnesses.

    Naomi Woodley has our report.

    NAOMI WOODLEY: The president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, says she’s noticed a significant decline in the health of women and children on Christmas Island since her last visit four months ago, and she now has grave concerns for their welfare.

    GILLIAN TRIGGS: I think I came back more determined than ever that this story has to be told to the Australian public.

    I think that every Australian, of whatever political persuasion and however threatened they feel by refugees, I feel that this story must be told because Australians will hang their heads in shame when this is really understood.

    NAOMI WOODLEY: Professor Triggs says during her visit 13 women were being monitored as “high-risk” for self harm and 10 of those were on 24 hour watch…

  10. Pingback: Kids and Capuchins - The AIM Network | children...

  11. Anne Byam

    Kaye – Well said – your article is excellent. It’s heartening to know that children of this world – albeit a few at this time, are showing such ‘leadership’ in their pursuit of justice for their friends – young people who have done no wrong, except to have been born where they were born. This Government is harsh and unyielding. One of the worst exponents of this unbending, and cruel type of action is that ‘person’ Scott Morrison. I hesitate to use the word ‘man’. You aptly described Morrison as displaying ‘stony silence’. IF Morrison has a heart at all, it is indeed made of stone. He’s brutal.

    As for the Prime Ministers’ “pat on the head” response to young Clare Fail’s letter – that is about all the Government will EVER write to anybody. Some letters do ‘promise action’ ( ???? ) … and make explanations here and there, only by way of excuses. I have received some of the Liberal party letters in recent times in response to my complaints on certain subjects – and it doesn’t take Einstein to see through the wording of these responses. At best these responses are condescending. THAT’s how this current Government treats the people of Australia – by patronising, condescending, and indeed threatening.

    Anyway, I digressed a little ! ….

    Again, well done Kaye Lee.


  12. Anne Byam

    I would like to add that Kaye’s suggestions, i.e. that companies / sports clubs that have benefited from the Governments’ screwball hand-outs, should do something to help the Pararoos, is excellent. $175,000 is but a drop in the ocean for some of these companies. I do hope your suggestions do not fall on deaf ears …. one can but hope. For the Gov’t to refuse them this relatively small amount of money, is absurd – and unutterably cruel.

  13. Garth

    Kaye.. Thank you, again. For a wonderfully succinct and eloquent articulation of many of my own feelings. I commented on an article on IA about the pararoos defunding saying that I would bet Dutton’s trip to the the Commonwealth Games would have more than paid for the pararoos funding. For a government that laughably says budgets are about priorities, it says a lot. Regarding Morrison, if he manages to retain his seat at the next election (if he lasts that long) I will have lost faith in many of my fellow Australians.

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