Dear Inner Circle,

Walking through the café yesterday I saw a man spot me and raise his hand high. His rather lovely face lit up because someone had told him I was too busy to come down and have lunch with him. I was too busy but suddenly my agenda evaporated. It’s funny how an authentic meeting between two people just melts away everything else. In my social work days I was a fanatic for a system of analysis called, “transactional analysis”. For quite some time, every encounter I had with people was analysed according to this system that imposed a framework of meaning onto every act of communication. At the time I didn’t see it, but it caused me to develop a language that was not really human. It caused me to be more interested in finding meaning than finding the person in front of me. I was a problem solver in those days. My naïve religious outlook back then was that Jesus must have been a social worker too. In due course I could see that Jesus was nothing like a social worker and no matter how you analyse his encounter with the woman at the well, he simply broke all the rules. He’d certainly not get a job in any agency I know of. Anyway, this lovely face lit up as he bought me lunch. With great ceremony he handed me $20, telling me that it was a debt he owed me. I had no memory of any debt. He explained that he was robbed at an ATM about a month ago and I lent him $20 to get him through that weekend. I know this man just lives on a small allowance that the public trustee provides and so I said, “But there is no need for you to buy me lunch.” His reply was, “But that’s what friends do”. Lunch was a celebration of many good things.

So our High Court ruled yesterday that our government does not commit an illegal act when it keeps people in detention overseas. I have some understanding of the complexities facing our government when it comes to controlling our borders, I’m just bewildered and wondering what happened to the Australia I grew up in. I am deeply saddened that the 267 asylum seekers, including 54 children, who came to Australia for medical treatment, are now facing potential deportation, an act of blatant inhumanity. We are knowingly putting children into harm’s way. What happened to the moral truth that the end does not justify the means? I am making a desperate plea to the Federal Government to act with humanity. A week ago I was singing the national anthem at an Australia Day event. We sang of boundless plains to share. We patted each other on the back and congratulated each other about our values of mateship and a fair go. What we’re doing to the 267 people seeking asylum on our shores has nothing to do with mateship or a fair go. To sing the national anthem today and mean it is an act of supreme contradiction. The Wayside Chapel will do everything in its power on every occasion to treat people with the dignity their humanity deserves. Wayside came into existence in 1964 as a sanctuary for people who didn’t fit anywhere else. Every day since first opening its doors, Wayside has been a place free of judgement where the most vulnerable people in the community can find a safe place to access support. Our doors are open to everyone in need. We don’t distinguish between the rich and poor, the housed and homeless, the sick and well or the saved and lost. And we certainly don’t distinguish between citizens and refugees.

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