John Bartlett

How did we get to this? – a review of ‘Chasing Asylum’

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How did we get to this? – a review of ‘Chasing Asylum’

The opening claustrophobic vision of ‘Chasing Asylum’ sets the scene for the harrowing journey ahead of us. We are huddled in the middle of a fishing boat with the wide ocean spread out on all sides and sea spray flying about us. The only sound is the ‘thut-thut-thut’ of an engine. Wearing life-jackets and crouched under tarpaulin, men look anxiously back from where they’ve come. Only the front of the boat is visible as if it alone is being propelled forward by some unseen force. It’s a striking and disturbing motif that returns throughout...

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Tailored to our needs

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Tailored to our needs

June 18th: It was dull and cold, and a little bit misty this morning when I set out from home for Geelong down the highway past all the new housing estates growing on either side of the road like gigantic cement forests-developments that usually made me grumpy by the time I reached Geelong. The Westfield car park at least was almost empty when I arrived but you can’t face a political rally without a good coffee. But I was outside my usual ‘safe-coffee zone’ and wandered dazed for some minutes along the waterfront past new upmarket hotels and...

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Compassion in small doses

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Compassion in small doses

This was the week when both the cruelty and compassion of human beings exploded before our startled eyes. The slaughter of 49 dancing young people in Orlando, Florida was followed by an upsurge of human compassion that has become the only too predictable response in the aftermath of horror, people just trying to reach out to each other in concern. In what has become an age of Anxiety, I find even the smallest gestures of compassion, of one human being towards another, to be incredibly moving. I was in Barwon Heads this week at my doctor’s...

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‘Like gods together, careless of mankind’

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‘Like gods together, careless of mankind’

‘Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind. For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl’d Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world; Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands, Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and...

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#IDAHOT day 2016 – two steps forward, one step back

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#IDAHOT day 2016 – two steps forward, one step back

May 17th, once again celebrates Idahot Day, an international day dedicated to fight against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. It’s a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities. This year’s theme revolves around “Mental Health and Well Being”. How are we doing so far in the struggle against social stigma, persecution and discrimination?   Currently, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA, lists seventy-five countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay,...

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Landscapes of the heart

Posted by on 5:17 pm in Blog | 2 comments

Landscapes of the heart

I spent part of my Easter break reading Island Home: A Landscape Memoir, Australian author, Tim Winton’s latest book. This is indeed Winton at the height of his powers. In what has been called a ‘love letter’ to Australia, Winton’s words leap off the pages like lyrics to past remembered songs. He reflects on how the Australian landscape has been the burning inspiration for his writing during his entire career. Rather than review what is for me the best book of 2016 (it was published in September 2015), I want to share how it has inspired me...

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Climate Change

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Climate Change

Last Monday afternoon, on a street corner in front of St George’s Anglican Church, with peak hour traffic building, one of the largest crowds to ever demonstrate in Geelong, expressed their support for asylum seekers loudly and enthusiastically. The Geelong rally of course was just one of the many larger rallies around Australia held, following the High Court decision to deport back to Nauru detention centre, more than 267 asylum seekers who have been in Australia on a temporary basis, mostly for medical conditions. Despite the grave nature...

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