Page 4753 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017

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we know that all of them can be helpful and supportive of refugees and have been assisting them where they can.

It stands to reason that as a whole the locals will likely hold some significant resentment. The locals do not have access, for instance, to mental health supports. They are not a standard provision for locals. The plight of the refugees and the global focus that has eventuated unfortunately have not given insight into the plight of the people of PNG. I have had the privilege of visiting PNG twice, and it is certainly a country that needs a lot of assistance and compassion. What we need is a world that is more compassionate, a world where everyone is treated with respect and compassion.

In spite of the ACT government writing to the Australian government calling for the men to be sent here or to any one of the 147 safe haven zones, as agreed by the Assembly in August, in spite of the many protests by nurses, doctors, former workers in detention camps and refugee action groups around the country, this shameful and inhumane treatment continues.

Today the camps close and there are no suitable alternatives. I want it on record that these atrocities are not happening in my name and I am watching.

Back to your roots writing competition

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (6.42): I recently lost my favourite aunt. She was a fahu, my father’s sister, and therefore one of the highest ranking members of my family, because in the Tongan culture it is the women who hold rank. She was important to me for this reason but also for many very personal reasons. As soon as a death has occurred in a Tongan household, all family members will be notified immediately and they would feel a strong desire to go to the putu, or funeral vigil. I am grateful that I was able to travel to participate in this observance. The days leading up to my aunt’s burial were opportunities for extended family members to bring gifts of traditional Tongan mats, intricately painted tapa cloth called ngatu, money and other goods for the family of the decreased. Attending this vigil and giving these gifts are signs of love and respect.

The vigil was held each night over the course of several days. A big tent had been erected at my aunt’s home for this purpose, and there we all sat together singing hymns and saying prayers. We also wore black clothing covered with a very large ta’ovala, a traditional woven mat that is bound around one’s body, again as a sign of respect. In addition, close family members, including me, had our hair cut as a sign of mourning.

As I experienced all of this it occurred to me that there were still many aspects of my Tongan heritage that I did not completely understand. As I came to better understand these traditional ways of Tongan life, however, I found myself developing an even deeper aspect for my own culture, and this in turn has strengthened my identity as a Tongan-Australian woman.

As shadow minister for multicultural affairs and for families, youth and community services, it is my hope that young people in the ACT will likewise feel a connection to

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