Week 1, Day 2 of Vigil June 16

The second evening of the castlemaine vigil in recognition of Aboriginal Sovereignty and in support of refugees – 16th June.

In solidarity with Aboriginal peoples and refugees, Jake and I sat on the Castlemaine market building steps with signs and candles demonstrating our care and concern for those who are fleeing persecution, war, poverty; those trying to find refuge.

It was cold last night, and i was immediately aware of the cold brutality that the Australian Government and mainstream media are metering out on the bodies and psyches of people who have already experienced extreme trauma.

A woman – who i have named the Lovely Eva – joined us to sit for a while. She signed the petition and spoke of her deep care. Another woman who did not give her name walked past and slowed down saying, with a very distressed look on her face: “it is not right, how bad they treat those people. It is not right. This is not our earth, we don’t own it – we are just borrowing it for a while. It is not right.”

A few others dropped by and signed the petition including a man and woman from Ballarat. One man stopped to argue aggressively against care and i said to him: ‘I am not here to argue. I will not change you through words and you will not change me. I am here to demonstrate care – care deeper than any words you or i will speak to each other tonight.’ I offered him some information that he may be interested in considering. He declined. We looked at each other in silence. He left. Throughout the evening many cars slowed down to look. Some giving us the thumbs up!

As the dark fell, I sat listening as all around became quieter. I listened to the birds finding their nests, to the occasional car with people making their way home – probably returning to a room they could warm, as would i be later in the evening. I felt the profound privilege of this. I watched as the clouds gathered around the moon creating a halo of red, indigo, yellow. I felt the moon’s presence. I listened to the humming of the earth and felt the essential kindness that grows from it. I sent my love to those in detention centres – i thought of each centre and sent my love in an attempt to wrap warmth and care around each person there. I thought of people out on the cold seas – hoping to find shelter once they came to land – hoping for safety, some warmth. I sent love and warmth to these people and the hope that no boat would founder tonight with these precious souls on board.

I send special thanks to Suvendi Perera for her knowing, deep kindness and to Marg Peck for her replenishing touch.

I will be sitting on the steps of the castlemaine market building again this evening (Monday 17th June). Please join me or drop by for information and to sign the petition.

[later in response to white supremacist hate speech being posted on my facebook page]

To those who have been supportive of my Vigil – blessings. To those who have hacked into my account and posted white supremacist extremist hate speech I give you one of my poems:

I don’t want to love what is easy
I want to listen
to the children / in their beds
to the children / on the streets
to the children / under fire
(and yes to the children in boats and imprisoned)
I don’t want to love what is easy


First vigil on the steps of Castlemaine Market Building.

First vigil on the steps of Castlemaine Market Building. 
A few people stopped by and signed our petition to Steve Gibbons – Castlemaine’s federal rep.  Despina and I sat with candles and boards expressing remembrance for those who have died, our care for all those seeking sanctuary/asylum and pledging that we will not forget those suffering in detention centres around this continent. 
I watched the moon overhead, felt the cold increase, and saw the first star rise – and tried to imagine what it would be like if i was in a boat trying to find safety, sanctuary.  I imagined the journey, the cold, the fear and terror.  I imagined how the trauma already held in so many bodies would be compounded and then compounded again should they reach Australia.  I imagined and yet i knew that in this imagining i was only touching the edges of what so many people experience.  Looking into the moon I sent love to those who are trying to cross the seas to find safety tonight and to the relatives and loved ones who’s own loved ones have drowned, and I said sorry that they are not given  care and dignity in life or death. And I remembered years ago hearing Suvendrini Perera speak of love as a political act, and i thought of Aunty Dr Ruby Langford Ginibi and her writings of love and again I know that to love – to truly love – is a necessary and political act. 
I will be on the steps again tomorrow evening from 5pm -6.30pm.  I would be happy if you joined me or just popped by to sign our petition.

an open letter to PM Julia Gillard

Ms Gillard,  
I am writing with tears streaming down my face as I have just read that ‘authorities’ have decided it is not a priority to retrieve the 60 bodies of men, women and children who have drowned off Christmas island.
How much more inhumane can this country become?
Do you not have a mother, a brother or sister, a partner or dear friend? Do you not recognise in these people – so desperate for safety that they will try to endure a petrifying trip by sea to Australia – a humanness? Do you not recognise that they could be your family, your loved ones but for their ‘luck’ of being born into a different place and circumstance. 
Can you sleep at night listening to the screams of the mothers desperate as their children are ripped from their arms, or drift away as their arms lose all strength to hold, to the screams of men as they watch their brothers fall into the unknown depths of the sea. 
When you speak of these people, of asylum seekers, how do you live with your manipulative incriminations that you must know are not true, and are borne out of a desire to gain some imagined credit from those in this country who would not care, love or even allow themselves to imagine that these people seeking asylum are human. You yourself have watched over a government that has taken away their human rights. It is not only their humanity you deny but also your own – and ours. 
Tell me, Ms Gillard, how is it that it took days before there was any attempt to find this boat of people when ‘authorities’ knew they were due days before – had even seen the boat lolling just off Christmas island, saw it wasn’t moving? How is it that these people are not afforded the dignity you would afford your family? Even those in this country who have committed incredibly violent acts have been allowed dignity in death. 
How is it that your government’s approach to those most traumatised in this world is to inflict more trauma through a policy that imprisons them, punishes them for their vulnerability and their courageous attempts to survive. How has it come to this? On your watch Ms Gillard. On your watch. 
You could choose to be tough, to really stand up, to show the strength of leadership so desperately needed in this country. You could choose to say ENOUGH. You could choose to place respect, integrity, strength, compassion and ‘fairness’ at the forefront of this country’s agenda. It is you who can make this choice and in doing so, save many lives, create a caring rather than violent society. It is your choice whether you lead or not. We all know you have nothing to lose – and, Ms Gillard, if you made this choice, there may be a chance that you might be re-elected. So many of us will no longer vote for a labour party with such disregard for basic human rights, a party focused on dividing communities and further marginalising the vulnerable; a party that has most definitely fallen into ill-repute and of which many are deeply ashamed. 
Ms Gillard, you have taken on a heavy load in your acceptance of the role as this nation’s leader. Look into your heart, your gut and mind and LEAD. And remember, it is your choice whether we once again have blood on our hands.
Sincerely,   Janet Galbraith
Contact Your PM | Prime Minister of Australia

Castlemaine Vigil

Vigil for Asylum Seekers.

In solidarity with those whose human rights have been taken from them, standing with those seeking asylum, honouring those who are suffering, and in remembrance of those who have died in oceans or detention centres, I will be sitting on the Castlemaine Market Building steps from 5pm – 6.30pm each day.  My intention is to demonstrate caring.  Join me if you wish. 

Janet Galbraith