01 Sep The Start of the OzCan Odyssey
The Australian government has granted me permission to travel to Canada to support my parents and conduct research.
I’m deeply relieved I can go, but profoundly sad for those who remain separated from their loved ones as a result of a border policy that is very harsh.
I’ve been lucky to build my life as an internationalist. I’ve emigrated, lived in different countries, worked around the world. What an immense privilege! One I’m ever grateful for and never take for granted. I wonder, after Covid will such a life be possible?
Today, I say farewell to Australia for many months, because that’s the bargain I’ve had to strike with the Australian government. It’s a high price to pay to be separated from my Australian family and friends for so long. Each side of this policy – being forced to stay in Australia for an indefinite period of time, or being forced to stay away from Australia for an indefinite period of time – feels short-sighted. I understand all the dimensions Australia needs to balance, but can we please, please elevate compassion? Otherwise, we are closed and cold-hearted and that reduces us all.
Today, the Australia I say farewell to is one that cannot be reduced. I say good-bye to the forests, birds and beasts of this beautiful continent, which remain vast, priceless, ancient, and vulnerable, and which define the Australia of my imagination: the Red Cedar, Acacia, Sassafras and Lilly-Pilly, the Eucalypt, Coachwood, Melaleuca and Gravillea, the Australian Magpie, Eastern Spinebill, Wombat and Echidna, the Swamp Wallaby, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Top Knot Pigeon and Superb Blue Wren, the Lyre Bird, Whip Bird, Cat Bird and Brown Cuckoo-Dog, the Wedge-tailed Eagle, Wonga Pigeon, Kookaburra and Welcome Sparrow.
I am going to Canada, my motherland, from Australia, my adopted home. Having the freedom to leave, allows me to cherish this immense, diverse, antique continent, in a way that I simply could not while I was waiting, anxious that I would be denied the ability to see my Canadian family.
Farewell Australia. I will return, as soon as you let me.