Posts Tagged ‘Refugee’

Rather Cloudy and warm with a chance of Rain and Cyclone Oma.

February 22, 2019
Image result for cyclone oma track map
Cyclone ‘Oma.’

Australia must be desperate for news when half the TV News-time is taken up by dire warnings of a hurricane bearing down on the East Australian Coast. Nothing is sure yet. A man with a small face wearing glasses is brought to the camera to explain the latest about this hurricane that has now been ‘bearing’ down for at least a week. Warnings about giant waves are interspersed with footage of surfers happily riding those big waves. Drone shots are shown of Gold Coast skyscrapers perilously close to the breaking waves. The BOM ( Bureau of Metereology)  man on TV tries to spin it as long as possible and now shows maps of large circles and a red centre. It shows New Caledonia on its right and the Australian coast on the left. Cyclone Oma is still 1200 kilometres from Australia but large waves have already arrived.

We normally pay the weather little attention and know it roughly behaves as it does. Why it is part of the News is a mystery. I remember that in the past, farmers used to study the sky and figure out what the weather was likely to do. Even so, we too take some notice of the weather that is yet to come. The map on TV shows the name of towns and have either a sun, cloud or rain droplets displayed above them. The weatherman rattles off the future chances of wind, sun, rain or even snow and does it with an air of someone announcing the upcoming marriage of the Pope. One ABC weatherman has a curious way of lifting his left foot up on its heel while pivoting around back to his map. When he is finished he is curtly thanked by the News reader and that’s that.

I suppose with the impending tornado, nature is forcing us to become more attentive. A flood, a tsunami, blizzards or any other localized  apocalypse, the forecasters do get our attention more than the average weather forecast or news of a baby that is held upside down by its feet for alternative spinal manipulation.. The trouble when a tornado goes on too long, it wears us out and we slip away again. It is when a Prime minister arrives on the screen, wearing rubber boots and a face mask that we get to sit upright again. The TV screen shows us the wrinkled face of a farmer, hoisting by the help of his tractor, a cow’s carcass out of the mud.  Our PM, Mr Morrison, all puckered by concern mumbles a few inanities feigning concern but fully concentrated on future votes. I fear, with the resignation of M/s Bishop, chances of the party holding on to power has now slipped away altogether. However, don’t underestimate the anti refugee mob! The pot of hatred is being stirred again.

The weather is so much kinder, isn’t?

Reffos and Tulips.

October 2, 2018

IMG_0126 Tulips.JPG

A carpet of Tulips in Bowral.

The film ‘The Ladies in Black’, left enough of an impression for me to urge people to see it. The film deals in some parts about the influx of reffos into Australia during the fifties. That’s the period this Australian film is set in. The ‘reffo’ was a shortened term for refugees. Our family came to Australia in 1956. We were not reffos in the strictest term. Europe in Australia during the fifties was seen as a war-ravaged stain on a map. Geographical and political differences between Hungary or Holland were beyond interest or hardly known. The issues in this magnificent movie really hit home. The differences (and similarities) in cultures are what this film, in a kind and humorous way, points out. The poignancy for H and I was overwhelming. One is always pleased when things we experienced about the past, agrees and coincides with others. When pointed out in a major film, it is double pleasing.

The ambiguity of migrating to another part of the world will probably stay with me till the very end. Was the pain of leaving own country and friends worth it?  The mental dehydration suffered in foreign and strange suburbs! Those differences experienced between the locals and the Reffos during the fifties, the lack of herrings, garlic ,olives, and real coffee. The blight of the determined curmudgeon.

Australia in the fifties was a kinder and more tolerant place though. The governments of that period did not foment xenophobia nor detained refugees on hellish islands for years on end.

The present Prime Minister is a fervent Pentecostal believer. Yet on his desk he proudly shows a sign ‘We stopped the boats,’ referring callously to the detained refugees on those islands. Their punishment is used to warn and prevent refugees from trying to come to Australia. They are saying ‘if you try, and come here by boat we will lock you up on those islands for the rest of your life.’ In the fifties Australia did not try and demonise a single African group doing 1 % of crime and yet close their eyes to the other 99% of crime perpetrated by local born.

The tulips belong to a different class. Nothing scary here, dear readers. You can tell they are just there to give us pleaure.  This photo was taken this morning. There must be thousands of tulip photos being e-mailed around the world. The Tulip show in Bowral was magnificent.

It always brings me back to the time in Holland. I used to cycle to the tulip fields. Can you imagine seeing tulip fields as far as the eye can see? In different colours too. The tulips in Bowral are in cahoots with sun and clouds. I am sure they talk to each other.It dazzles and so many people taking selfies. In years to come grandchildren might find the tulip photos in drawers and wonder about the lives at earlier times.

Try and see ‘the Ladies in Black’, and the Tulips.



This Australia country is Crook as Rookwood

March 22, 2017

IMG_1087Milo 2017

There we go again. It seems that the refugee swap with the US is under some cloud. Australia claims it needs to cut back on spending. It could save billions by just finally accepting the refugees held on Manus and Nauru  on Australian soil. What seems more logical? The oft repeated mantra of keeping control of our borders is just ludicrous. Can someone point out which country borders us?

Our minister, Mr Dutton, for Torture and Unlawful Detention (TUD) should brush up on his geography. We are girthed by sea and in any case Facebook, Twitter etc. doesn’t respect national borders and makes a mockery of land borders. As it is, the world is becoming borderless. We are supposed to revel in being Australian and associate ourselves with ‘true Australian values’ but what are those values if not the same as those of most civilised countries?  What are Australian values that are so unique?

Treating asylum seekers as sub-human is a festering sore that will keep Australia on the international shame list while it lasts. I can’t possibly dance around a national Australian pride pole while refugees whose refugee status has been accepted are kept detained. They are not illegal and no charge has been levied against even a single person.  They are in their fourth year of unlawful detention.

It seems  likely that the  trade in refugees between the US and Australia will at best limit itself to just a few of the seventeen hundred that are still locked on Nauru and Manus in exchange for perhaps fifty or so refugees from Central America. There are rumours that the refugees on Manus and Nauru have been fingerprinted by US officials. Heaven only knows what must go through those tormented souls? Fingerprinted once again!  The indignity of it all.

Many of the refugees are well educated and sometimes seem to have a better commend of English than their torturing privately funded interrogators. How could we have got it so wrong? I know the answer. We lack leaders that are decisive not divisive. There is our PM Turnbull, grandiosely  slapping himself on the back saying that Australia is the most tolerant, the most successful multi-cultural country in the world. Yes, but what about all that what happened within our child support detention camps. The people employed to look after the welfare of those children asking sexual favours. Suck my dick video has just turned up at the Royal Commission.

How could things go so off the rail?


Milo seems to have an answer. Just look into his all-seeing eyes.




Post Christmas Blues. You are a swine Mr Dutton!

December 27, 2016

With more than seventy Christmases behind us, we of ‘Oosterman Treats’ are enormously qualified to speak and deal with Post Christmas stress, or PCS in medical or psychiatric parlance. It comes from huge unreal expectations. You can just imagine those poor sods having lined up outside the department shops for hours hoping to buy yet again another unwanted and unneeded item. Boxing day ‘specials’ with discounts so big, many items are almost free. Did you see those contorted shoppers’ faces on TV being interviewed? One girl proudly stated that shopping is her only aim in life.

Of course, the Christmas revellers stomachs are just as churned up. Huge loads of sugars and fats having to be regurgitated with cuds re-chewed and worked through. It generally hits most people about a day after Boxing day. The money is gone and the new hand-bag or T-shirt are just that, a bag and T-shirt. The pavlova has melted and made a mess at the bottom of the fridge. The ham is souring and so are the kids. ‘We are bored’, is now a common refrain uttered by thousands of kids and echoing above waves and sand throughout the country. Spare a thought for mums having to cope with that! Dads can go back to work after nursing a head-ache from too much Pinot Gris.

Pardon this serious reflection but believe me, it will pass. The answer is to do nothing. Life goes back to normal and the passing of this Christmas will be seen by many as a relief . Normality is to be preferred after all. We have to gather strength to do the vacuum, chuck out the wrapping paper, scrape the plates clean and heroically face the next few days. New-Year’s Eve is still to be wrestled with, but that is just a few hours and doesn’t generally include anywhere near the pandemonium that Christmas holds. At least we won’t have to hear those supermarkets jingles over and over again.

What took the gloss of this Christmas was the death of yet another refugee on Manus island. The poor man had begged to be treated for months. It was ignored and the medical nurse told him to stop faking. He can’t fake now. He died. He spent over three years on Manus and had his refugee status approved.The Government will not commend on his death and his family wasn’t even notified. How could we have a Christmas with that happening?

I tell you now, if we ever move again, it will be away from Australia. This government has reached the bottom for compassion and humanity. They punish and kill refugees for not having drowned in the first place.

You are a swine Mr Minister Dutton for killing refugees, and so is your boss, our PM Turnbull.

The Japanese Windflower understands.

March 6, 2016
Japanese Windflower

Japanese Windflower

This picture explains it all. If the purpose of life is to worry about what has been or what is yet to come, contemplate this flower. It asks for nothing more than to be looked at or ignored (at own risk). The choice is up to the viewer.

This photo was taken with my old iPhone. I really liked the previous misty looking results of the photos till my grandson wiped the lens clean with his T-shirt. All done in one single swipe. Since then the images are clearer and more colourful.

Before I forget. Remember this governments promise to take in an extra 12000 refugees from those that followed the exodus out of Syria back in September 2015. So far, just 26 have arrived.

“Canada has resettled 800 times more Syrian refugees in three months than Australia has in almost twice the time, fuelling concern the delay is pushing desperate families in the Middle East into a perilous crossing to Europe.

Labor has called on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to explain why Australia has resettled just 26 Syrian refugees five months after former Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced an emergency intake of 12,000 “as quickly as possible”.
Read more:

Actually, The Japanese windflower does take an exception by not understanding Australia’s stance on refugees.

We will again now take Milo on his walk and try come to grips with this latest. We are having  gloriously warm weather, two weeks in a row now, with the promise of another warm week to come. I see people carrying air conditioning units to their cars. The elderly are advised to not forget to drink lots of water and to take it easy.

‘Take it easy.’  This is what my father was told repeatedly back in 1956. Take it easy, Mr Oosterman. Don’t muck it up for us. They meant, that working hard would also then be required for those that did not pull their weight. Not pulling their weight was hugely popular in Australia during those earlier times. It was almost an entitlement that needed to be protected by all means. The balance between workers and bosses was a fine line, well understood. A kind of understanding that no strike would be undertaken if the workers were given leeway in getting paid for a fair day’s work, but not too hard. ‘Taking it easy,’ was understood by both. Funny that. A fair day’s work included plenty of smokos and generous breaks. Double time for Sundays and Saturday afternoons with the mornings time and a half.

It had more than a kernel of truth. Now ‘hard work’ has become the norm. Working days are getting longer and absent parents through work is normal. Kids come home with the key to the front door under the mat. Many mums and dads working, scratching enough to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.  Glass ceilings are crashing down. People look pale and hurried scurrying past each other. Shopping in a hurry. Cars screeching around the corner. Not giving way. Only the retired calm and serene. Feeding the ducks and wondering about the beauty and understanding of the Japanese wind flower with a Milo sleeping.

Taking it easy, lost and gone.


What is editing?

January 5, 2016


If a sentence is tortured or feels difficult, can the words be saved? I have started to read my proposed book from scratch. It will also be read by a good editor. A professional with words, which I am not. I write the words as they come without dominating them. They need the freedom and ought to be respected. The hope is that the one who uses the words will be equally respectful to the words. It really is a game of give and take. A kind of dance. Take your partner now and dance, but don’t step on those swirling but dainty feet.

Even in the first few hundred words of the proposed book, I had to delete a number of letters and words. I could not really change them and if there is a twisting or torture I rather delete than re-write. It might well mean there will be less words in the final book. No words written  by me ought to feel tortured or warped. There is no law about how to form a good sentence. I know there are rules of grammar, syntax and so much else, but even if all those rules are adhered to obediently, will you end up dancing with the words? Sometimes rules stifle and restrict. I mean, have you read the latest BHP annual report? Did you ever enjoy reading the small lettering of your bread-maker machine guarantee certificate? All were written by experts of language with great syntax. Subject, verb and object superbly in the right place.

The lack of language skills does offer the opportunity to not be held back by those rules. It means, that the game of give and take between the words and writer can really flourish, not having to be held to ransom and held back by those same rules and conventions that are so necessary to produce those well written and totally comprehensible BHP or Rio Tinto annual reports and vacuum machine guarantee certificates.

Not having the advantage of conventional education can have dire consequences too, but,  at the same time it leaves avenues open of a different way of doing things. It all depends on the individual to then make the best of the given. That’s how it is in most things. You just row with the oars that you were given. Rowing up shit creek without a paddle, is one of my favourite sayings. Who wrote that one? The freedom to row with the words is all that we have. Could the rules and regulations  stifle this freedom?  It is all so puzzling isn’t it?

I sometimes used to regret not having gone through a university type of education. You know, having a bachelor of arts degree or something similar. It would have given one the opportunity in becoming an engineer or crash-hot dentist. It could have been my lot, or an actuary, bank manager on a leather black swivel chair. Just imagine?

I could have written Annual reports or Budget papers.

I will spend time going through the whole proposed book again. Re-put words a bit here and there. It is naval gazing and somehow an embarrassing procedure, going over what has been written. Of course, the rules of grammar have to be obeyed to a certain degree. Anything still obviously askew will have to be picked up by the editor.

I am now at;

“The on-shore stevedoring workers were dressed in blue singlets and shorts. They could well have thought, while looking up and rolling their ready rub ciggie; ‘here comes another bloody boatload of bloody reffos.’ Definition of ‘Reffo’ ‘a refugee.’ Strictly speaking we were not refugees, but we were all painted with the same brush. European history was complicated and Australians at that time kept things fairly simple. At least we were white.”


Peter Greste is freed. What about the Manus Island refugees?

February 2, 2015
Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Australian journalist Peter Greste is freed through the intervention of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Could Abbott show similar compassion and free the refugees held in detention on Manus Island, Christmas Island and Nauru?

Peter Greste was at least charged with something, yet the refugees, some of them locked up for well over one year have never been charged.



I mean, are the refugees going to be locked up forever, totally forgotten?
It is a stain so reminiscent of Auschwitz footage I saw on TV just last Friday.”

No matter on how we look at the situations of refugees in indefinite detention under the ‘care’ of Australia. We can’t go into the future without dealing with the past.

It might help again to point out the following.

Here a partial extract written by Paul Toohey; ‘That sinking feeling.’

“The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Australia is a signatory, defines a refugee as:

“Any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country”.

This definition is used by the Australian Government to determine whether our country has protection obligations towards an individual. If a person is found to be a refugee, Australia is obliged under international law to offer protection and support and to ensure that they are not sent back unwillingly to the country of origin.

An asylum seeker is a person who has sought protection as a refugee, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed. Every refugee has at some point been an asylum seeker.

Those asylum seekers who are found to be refugees are entitled to international protection and assistance. Those who are found not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their country of origin.

As of 30 June 2014 there were 24,500 asylum seekers who had arrived by boat (including 1,870 children) who had been permitted to live in the community on Bridging Visas while waiting for their claims for protection to be processed.

As at June 30 2014 there were 3,624 people in immigration detention facilities and 3,007 people in community detention.

There are many myths about refugees and asylum seekers. These are some of the common ones.

People who come by boat are illegals. The UNHCR states that a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution should be viewed as a refugee and not labelled an ‘illegal immigrant’ as the very nature of persecution means their only means of escape may be via illegal entry or the use of false documentation or having no documents at all. The right to enter without prior authorisation is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which Australia helped to draft.

Boat people are ‘queue jumpers’. Some believe that people who arrive by boat are taking the place of more deserving refugees waiting in resettlement camps. The reality is that there is no orderly queue, only a small proportion of the world’s refugees are registered with the UNHCR and in many places there is no opportunity to register at all.

Boat arrivals aren’t genuine refugees. Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are subject to the same assessment criteria as all other asylum applicants. Recent figures show that over 90% of asylum seekers arriving by boat have been found to be refugees and granted protection here or in another country.

We take more refugees than our share. Australia is one of only about 20 countries who participate in the UNHCR’s resettlement program and we accept a quota of about 13,750 per year. However this is only 0.03 per cent of the worlds 4 million refugees. The UNHCR’s program currently only resettles 1 per cent of the world’s refugees, with most remaining in developing countries neighbouring the countries from which they have fled.

Refugees receive higher welfare payments than Australian citizens. There is no truth to this myth, which has been widely circulated by email. Refugees living in the community have only the same entitlements as all other permanent residents. They do not have their rental bonds paid for by the government, nor do they receive a lump sum payment on arrival. Asylum seekers are not eligible to receive financial assistance through Centrelink but some can be eligible for the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme administered by the Australian Red Cross and other contracted service providers. The scheme provides a basic living allowance equivalent to 89% of Centrelink payments.”

Will Boat People save our Real Estate?

January 6, 2012

There are still some who reckon that a half glass full is fuller than those who swear by a half glass being half empty. I cheerfully belong to the latter mob. You know the saying; “a pessimist knows the world is crook, an optimist is always finding out.”

With the Christmas over and the traditional Sydney to Hobart finished, the Boxing shopping spree exhausted, with millions having scored yet another T-shirt or Blue Tooth bargain, we can all take stock prepare for the coming year. Prepare will be the buzz word alright. Get ready folks. Tighten you belt and hold on, it’s going to be a wild ride. If anyone through their chardonnay’s-addled brain managed to get a look at the last of this year’s Newspaper they would have found articles with some rather depressing set of numbers. Unbelievably but irrefutable, according to those whose job it is to churn through the stats, there are now over 60.000 families whose mortgage is higher that the value of their ‘own-home’. In other words, our almost impenetrable conviction that property never ever goes down is getting a bit of a dog’s leg cocking up.

I’ll refrain from stating the worst States in falling prices, but falling they are in all States and that is with the two interest rates cuts. Gloomy figures, and who wants that to ponder over just when we get ready to stroll and watch the fire-works?
Many eternal optimists reckoned that the fall in real estate would never happen and they had theories of migration and under supply that would hold the housing-market up. Then that old time worn truth or excuse; to own our own home is the ultimate fulfillment of the Australian Dream, it’s not very patriotic to go against that. It ought to be the ultimate aim and ambition for all families and all peoples. “We need our own home,” and the more the merrier. It stood the test of decades. Every time the prices took a bit of a dip, hordes moved in, bought up into the slack and yippee, up and up, our ‘own home’ went again.

At parties and dinners, people would regale the most fantastic tales of millions having been made from juicy real estate deals. You could buy a house, sweep it out, bang it back on the Internet Market and make thousands. Thousands they repeated, rocking back on their chairs or heels, while masticating the croutons.

What about those numbers a while ago that Australian City housing apart from being the largest were now also the most expensive in the world. Australian property is more expensive than Hong-Kong, oh no, surely not? Of course Hong Kong had that dubious distinction some years ago as Tokyo did, but now, down, down and more down as the Coles ditty rambles on.
Instead of taking heed of the old saying that what goes up will go down, we increased our buying orgy and till about the middle of this year it rocketed on regardless, it had a life of its own, but…. look at it now? Each week brings a new set of numbers confirming that the downward spiral is increasing its tempo. Most real estate sections in Newspapers still try and put on a brave face but they can’t deny that auction figures have slumped which is an indication that sellers are now faced with either sitting tight and risk further downfalls or meet what the market might still be offering.

Those who bought on speculation with taking mortgages out on equity in own homes to buy more property are getting a bit nervous, and so they should. No party goes on forever. We do not have the ‘strategic default option’ that many in the US enjoy. In the US if the value of the house gets much less than the outstanding mortgage you can simply walk away and the debt belongs to the bank. That’s why the US banks went broke. Here in Australia, people still remain in debt even when walking away from the home.

Here is the optimist view:

The fall in prices is just a blip. Soon they will go up again. You just have not reckoned on how many of us, true blue Aussies, are going to welcome boat people. We have always relied on migrants and refugees to join our society, get jobs and pay tax, become enchanted with the idea of owning own home and become part of the Australian dream. A drop in prices will just be seen as an opportunity to get back in again. It has always been like that and migration has been the backbone of real estate prices going up decade after decade.

The party will just take a rest, a kind of nap or fiesta. We might just have to change our attitude to boat people. We just know we were a bit stupid to try and put in place ‘deterrents’, instead of ,as we did in the past, put out the welcoming mat. Refugees are the salt of the earth and have always underpinned our economy. Above all, they have also always helped to put a solid ceiling under our national dream, our ‘Own Home’. Think about it!

Woman Rape.

June 21, 2011

Posted on June 22, 2011 by gerard oosterman

There have been some strange News items today. One was about an Irish Lady being freed from jail after an alleged rape by her on a woman in a toilet. The mind boggles but here is the item:

I was lucky to get the article about the hospitable Turks up and running on the Drum but, gee, it was gone in a flash together with MacCullum’s piece. Many of the answers seemed to draw comfort from the fact that Turkey and Syria are neighbours and as Australia hasn’t got that problem it is therefore not a good comparison. I thought my piece was more about how Turkey declared to accept all those fleeing violence. Their minister from immigration declared. “They are human being in distress; we will not turn them away”. I might be wrong but I have yet to hear any Australian minister declare any empathy, a warm welcome or understanding of the plight of refugees.

In the face of this refugee flow, Turkey has taken action without involving international institutions in the process. However, international cooperation will be inevitable if the number grows. Large camps, mobile hospitals and residential areas have been created in response to the fundamental needs of the refugees; thanks to preliminary preparations, Turkey is now able to host 800,000 refugees. International human rights organizations welcome Turkey’s generous attitude. Despite the fact its stance will further encourage others to flee and take refugee, Turkey’s preference not to close the border is extremely humane. At this point, the people of Güveççi village deserve particular credit and thanks; they have been mobilized to help out the refugees and given away everything they had to extend support for even those who stayed on the other side of the border, teaching humanity a lesson.

It seems amazing how the issue of so few numbers of refugees in Australia have excited so many. It still remains unanswered why Australia is getting so worked up about so few that end up on our shores. We are really slack and lacking in our humanity. Perhaps it is due to our education. So many, despite many nationalities having settled here, seem ignorant of the world’s geography or different cultures.