Home is Where the Tribunal
Says it Will Be
This canvas is a visual rendition of a refugee’s life.
The non-linear zig-zagging lines represent the flow of refugees embarking on different paths to seek a better life and future. As the zig-zagging lines move closer to the centre, they fade and become less prominent. They delineate the barriers and complexities that refugees encounter before reaching safety. War, famine, unsafe vessels, perpetrators, their home State, the lack of a home State, the challenges living with their sexuality or race, their social status. All of these, both immutable and non-immutable – nevertheless characteristics essential to their identity – are reflected within the many shades of pastels engrossing the canvas.
The connecting blue lines represent the many administrative barriers that asylum seekers face as they endeavour to achieve refugee status in Australia. The intricacy of the system manifests itself in a maze-like structure, expressing the difficulty of the various technicalities that refugees must first fulfil, as well as the plethora of different paths that they must take prior to being granted a permanent visa. Ultimately, home is where the Tribunal says it will be.
The blue showcases the darkness of mandatory offshore detention and presents itself in an obscure way to reflect the abnormality of being detained for simply wishing to seek refuge. The maze is a representation of Australia’s unique and twisted mandatory detention regime which remains amongst the harshest (if not the most relentless) in the world and is isolated from the international community in its offshore processing and mandatory detention scheme. It highlights the nation’s attempt to create its own set of laws concerning refugees – detached from international standards and deriving away from a human rights approach employed by the UNHCR.
The disjointed and puzzling nature of the middle depicts the ambiguity and precariousness of a refugee’s world. They have little information on the status of their visa; often times no proper legal representation; do not know whether they will be detained indefinitely; and they fall sick due to the deplorable conditions in mandatory detention, seldom knowing if they will ever be administered appropriate medical care or survive.
Although there presents a disruption in the middle of the canvas, the zig-zagged lines continue to reunite with one other on the other side. They emerge just as beautiful, if not more, at the other end of the canvas. This exhibits family ties and relations. Each year, thousands of refugees yearn for family reunification but, unfortunately, as a result of administrative and socio-economic barriers, cannot.
This painting serves to offer the broader Australian community an insight (albeit very minuscule), into the lives of those whose only crime has been seeking safety.