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SBS and me

It’s a pleasure to be writing for the brilliant and ballsy SBS Life. As Australia’s only mainstream outlet for truly diverse voices, it feels like the perfect place for much of what I love to write: empowering stories about amazing women and men. The sisterhood runs strong at SBS Life.

Here are a few of those bits and pieces:

Language isn’t working: Artists illustrate leaked Nauru files

What it means to be a ‘Leb’ in Australian culture

The best visa to come to Australia

A CEO’s battle to change the laws around voluntary euthanasia

My father’s plan to help us survive the refugee camp: steamed buns

How wearing my kimono has helped me break down barriers

We weren’t sure whether we were being asked to suicide or get into a boat

How generous are Australians?


Australia’s $1 billion debt

European countries that refuse to take in their proportion of forced migrants will face a financial charge of about €250,000 per refugee, according to Brussels’ plans to overhaul the bloc’s asylum rules.

That’s about $400,000 per person.

Given Australia today has 30,037 people seeking asylum (according to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre), it would be forced to pay $11.59 billion to the international community.

Let’s be more generous and imagine the government is only forced to pay for those 2437 individuals who find themselves in detention centres on Manus, Nauru and across mainland Australia.

We’d owe our more generous neighbours nearly a billion taxpayer dollars.


On the inconsistency and contest of toponymy // 2.5

Last year, I visited Uluru for work. It doesn’t mean much in the Pitjantjatjara language, but the word belongs to its people. It existed long before any half-drawn maps were rolled out on tabletops in cities on the other side of the planet.

Yet, the gateway to the region for visiting whitefellas is still called Ayers Rock Airport – one of the few anachronistic reminders of a historical low point we’re slowly attempting to redress. Dawes Point has become Tar-ra, South Creek is Wianammatta, while in New Zealand, the handing back of Maori names is far more entrenched in the national conscience.

We know the damage Cook’s names did, not to mention the hubris that comes with the colonial name-stamp, wiping out whatever preceded its ideals. De-Europising is part and parcel of reclaiming.

So, there’s a certain irony to our reverence towards the marks we’ve left on Turkey. Why is Anzac Cove called Anzac Cove? We weren’t victors, so it can’t have been because of military might. We don’t have any sovereign rights in Turkey, so it’s not that reason, either. We do little trade with them and most Australians have never been there. For those who lived there, for whom a bloody battled played on the land they had long called home, it was a nameless bay next to Ari Burnu.

General Birdwood is said to have named the cove 100 years ago, before the major losses that came to shape the story of that small stretch of Mediterranean coast. After the decimation and defeat, the name stuck, like Ayers Rock or Mount Panorama. Or Murdering Beach. Or Gallipoli.

Strange, isn’t it, how we curate what we want to believe of history, how we superimpose our values onto a far-off theatre of war, how we, as a country who should so sharply understand the difficulty of imposing our version of the story onto another’s, take what we want, in the version we want it, as long as it is in the name of pride and honour?