By GEORGIA LYSAGHT
Dear Mr Abbott,
My brother, Scott Lysaght, was killed in the 2002 Bali Bombing at the Sari Club. As you can imagine, our family – his wife, my mother and father, my sister, and I were all devastated.
You too have experienced first hand the impact of a terror attack when you assisted Australians affected by the 2005 Bali bombing. I understand that you stayed there all day, helping not only those who had been injured but supporting and comforting their families.
In the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings I was overwhelmed by the support and kindness that my family and I received from everyday Australians – family, friends, co-workers, and even perfect strangers. For me, this kind of humanity represents a key element of what it is to be Australian. Yet, I remember also being extremely distressed as I heard violent sentiments on talk back radio – one that stuck with me was a caller who wanted to put all of “them” in the Melbourne Cricket Ground and let the victims of the Bali bombings and their families beat them up. I did not want any act of violence, racism, or bigotry to be justified in my brother’s name, my family’s name, or my name.
After Scott died, I made the deliberate decision to act as a proponent of peace in my own small way, by actively engaging with people from cross-cultural backgrounds, exercising respect and tolerance, standing up to racism, and expanding my knowledge about the world around me.
For example, my honours and PhD theses both focused upon the case study of Indonesia. This provided me with the opportunity to learn as much as I could about Indonesia, make a lot of Indonesian friends, and to see the individuals who were responsible for the Bali bombings as un-representative of the broader Indonesian population.
My sister-in-law, Scott’s wife, does not want their daughter to be afraid of the world or of people who are different. She has taken my niece to many countries so that she may engage with a multitude of cultures, social systems, and people. My niece has a keen appreciation for multi-culturalism and a profound sense of humanity.
But sometimes I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle.
I felt sick when Australia’s terror alert was raised, and media coverage increased on the possibility of a terror attack in Australia. I felt sick not because of the steps the government had undertaken, but because once again I witnessed a surge of racism and bigotry across social media and on the comments section of news sites. I have also seen reports about the rise in attacks against Australian Muslims and Muslims in Australia – including the vandalism of mosques, a baby’s pram being kicked, a mother being spat on, and a pig’s head being impaled on a cross.