There is something seriously wrong when a mother, any mother, is forced by the Australian government to leave her newborn baby.
I am outraged that an asylum seeker was allowed only limited contact with her sick newborn shortly after giving birth. This poor Myanmar woman went through hell to get here so she can give her children a better life. Her country is riddled with fighting, rape, massacres, entire villages being burned to the ground.
The 31-year-old known as Latifa traveled here by boat with her husband and two other children, aged four and seven. The family spent a decade in a Malaysian refugee camp before coming here by boat, spending time on Nauru before finally being transferred to a detention centre in Brisbane.
And what do we do? Welcome them with open arms, assure them they don't have to be afraid anymore?
We treat them like the criminals they fled.
Latifa gave birth to a baby boy in Brisbane's Mater Children's Hospital last week. She called him Farus. He was beautiful, but gravely ill. He was having trouble breathing and needed constant monitoring. Her heart must have been in her throat with fear.
What happened next is a moment of shame for the entire country.
Because she's a refugee.
Does that mean she's worth less than other mothers? That her love is less? That she cares for her child less? That her sick baby needs her less.
No, it doesn't.
We are a kind country, a loving country, a country full of compassion and family and children who will do anything for each other. We go to the aid of lost children, help carry prams up and down stairs, donate massive amounts of money to countries suffering hardship.
It's time our immigration policy reflected this, even in a small way, even if it's just by allowing a mother to remain with her sick child.
Latifa has only been allowed to be with her son from 10am until 4pm each day. It's just not enough. We have removed her chance to bond, to establish breastfeeding, to comfort her baby, to comfort herself by holding him, kissing him, smelling him...Her husband Niza hasn't even seen his new son.