On 7 September 2015, thousands of people gathered in Hyde Park for a common purpose.
The war in Syria was at its height. Five days before, the world saw an image of a little boy washed up on the shore on our social media feeds and television screens. He had drowned at sea fleeing the devastation in his country.
His name was Alan Kurdi. He was just three years old.
Strangers around the country gathered to mourn the loss of this child, who became the symbol of the tragedy that was unfolding in Syria and Iraq. Online, the hashtag #lightthedark began to trend as thousands of Australians lit a candle for this boy and remembered the people who were escaping the horrors in their homeland.
I was there in Hyde Park that night to remember Alan with my then nine-year-old son. We lit a candle and we prayed for peace. It was a gesture of grief and hope.
A few days later, the Government said they would welcome 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq into the country.
I saw a welcoming, generous Australia during that time. One that was willing to open its doors to strangers in desperate need of help.
It gave me hope. In people. In this country. But most of all, in God, who is sovereign over all things; who gave me a glimpse of just what is possible amidst the darkness of this fallen world.
That moment happened four years and a few Prime Ministers ago.
Now we’re in an election year. A time when politicians are most keen to hear the opinions of their constituents.
We have another opportunity to say to those who wish to be our elected representatives that we want humane policies towards people who have fled conflict and are currently seeking refuge in this country.
The peak body that offered me a fellowship has a campaign that seeks to highlight the need for better treatment of people who are here and overseas.
It is a campaign I support.
As I hear the rhetoric of division and hate coming from some politicians, I want to be part of a movement that amplifies love and welcome.
I understand there is no single magic policy that can immediately solve the issue of people who have fled their homelands in search of safer shores.
But we’ve got to start somewhere.