Dear Prime Minister,
Today, 24th June 2017, I gave an artist talk at my exhibition 'Cast Away' in Perth. I described how I developed the installation of stitched paper vessels hanging in the gallery, where viewers can walk under and past little paper vessels and read the arrival stories written on them. I created a space where anyone in Australia can share how they come to be here: no hierarchy, no exclusion. My audience asked questions about Australia's offshore detention of asylum seekers. And once again, when I open a space for discussion either through reading aloud my letters to you, or my art practice, I learn more about how Australia has allowed such a terrible policy. The people I meet struggle to hear about what we are doing because it is more cruel and terrible than they can comprehend. They do not rise up in vocal protest (yet) because they cannot find words to express their horror and outrage. Or even before they register horror their self-protective mechanism kicks in and they desperately, automatically, try to minimise, to deny, to reframe so that they can spare themselves the pain of facing what they and all Australians are complicit in.
My primary concern is always with the direct suffering we continue to inflict on the men, women and children on Manus Island and Nauru. But a second ill is that we, as perpetrators of torture, must lie to ourselves and blame the victims so we can cling to our idea of ourselves as a good people. Australia's policy of offshore detention damages its victims and damages Australia. End it now.