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Who cries for Iraq?

By Lyn Bender - posted Monday, 18 July 2016

The big new Q&A question of the coming week will be about the outrage to be expected after Pauline Hanson's re-election. Will this exceed the attention paid to thetrending Van Badham Steve Price feud of last week?


No one seems to notice the meaning behind the question, of Iraqi man Michael Youssef on ABC's Q&A.


His quiet plea for the recognition of Iraqi suffering, fell like a stone silently on water. There was no shock and awe. What a contrast this made to the next questioner who raised issues of violence against women in our community.

No one on the panel joined the dots to the potential magnitude of Youssef's suffering. His grief was rendered invisible and inaudible.

I am a psychologist and of course I would say that. I am also the daughter of traumatized holocaust refugees, who were expected to forget their past, learn English and assimilate.

At the mention of war and refugees I see death, anguish and trauma.

On live television the pain of Iraqi people, was ignored.

Psychology has a name for this. It is called disenfranchised grief. The sorrow of minority groups is rendered invisible. The displacement and genocide of our first people and their transgenerationally transmitted trauma is largely denied. Refugees who suffer unseen, in offshore prisons are portrayed as undeserving of our compassion.


Gay couples that are being denied marriage in Australia are thereby deemed as of lesser

worth. The suffering that this may cause is ignored.

It has been noted by many that we respond intensely to a few deaths of people like us, or with whom we identify; yet ignore the plight of many considered unlike us.

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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