Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven has made what appears to have been a hasty announcement. He said last week that the university will fully-fund scholarships for two Indonesian students.
The scholarships will be named in ‘honour’ of the two Australian drug traffickers who were executed in Indonesia recently. Even Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the decision was ‘odd’.
The scholarships will each be for four years of undergraduate study. Students will be chosen on the basis of academic achievements and the cynical exercise of writing an essay about ‘the sanctity of life’. We can only hope the essays will be free of plagiarism. (See News Report here.)
The executed drug dealers may have been rehabilitated. People talk about their redemption through their actions. Their deaths by state-sanctioned execution was horrific and inexcusable murder. Some say they were ‘noble’ in face of impending death.
But they were not martyrs. A martyrs are put to death rather than denounce their beliefs or important principles.
The men knew what they were doing when they trafficked drugs for profit. They knew the possibility of the death penalty for people caught with illegal drugs in Indonesia. Warning notices in Bali airport are hard to miss! They would also have known the havoc that illegal drugs cause in families and communities.
I’m a Catholic. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit it. I’m also ashamed say I’m Australian. I sit in a pew in my Catholic parish church at least once a week. I try to pray for forgiveness and mercy, peace and justice in the world.
The abuse of children by Catholic clergy and institutions makes me angry. Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is a total disgrace. The announcement by the Australian Catholic University makes me mad. Hopping mad!
The Australian Catholic University has again called into question the sanity of those of us who profess our Catholic faith.
How can the university not understand that illegal drugs kill people? How can it be so insensitive to the suffering of countless families whose sons and daughters have died in back alleys and dingy rooms? What about the Anawim – the little people – who suffer because of addictions?
Some drug-related deaths are inadvertent – accidental overdoses or a ‘bad batch’. Often they are deliberate suicides. The drug traffickers were arrested in Bali in 2005. with 8.3 kilograms of heroin. I don’t know how that translates to individual doses. In the same year, 1838 people in Australia died as the result of the abuse of drugs.
Drug abuse can cause severe mental illness including psychosis. Men and women under the influence of drugs often behave badly. They break into homes and rob people to fund their habit. They bash people who get in their way. Some prostitute themselves. Violence in homes and in the street occurs because of drug-fueled rage. Health professionals and police are regularly abused and attacked. Families are torn apart. Everyone suffers.
Is it only people like me and families like mine that actually get that illegal drugs cause chaos and tragedy? Perhaps those of us affected don’t talk about it enough. Maybe we’re ashamed to admit that illegal drugs have devastated our families.
Why I am so angry about the decision of the Australian Catholic University
- We live in fear that someone we love will overdose or suicide
- We must standby, helpless, and watch the suffering of those we love
- People we love suffer from severe mental illnesses
- They will now never reach their full potential
- Our children are homeless or ‘couch-surf’
- Our families have been torn apart – mother from child, father from children, siblings from siblings
- We have lost precious grandchildren – ties have been severed through the Courts
- Babies have been taken from their mothers by public servants
- We have been hit and abused in emergency rooms of public hospitals by grandchild under the influence of illegal drugs
- We’ve seen arms and legs, chubby limbs we once kissed and bathed, now cut and bleeding.
- We never want to see the inside of a Court again. Never, never, never.
The Australian Catholic University certainly doesn’t seem to have got the concept that drugs are evil. Families like mine don’t want to see the names of drug traffickers perpetuated through Australian Catholic University scholarships.
In case of a life-threatening event, call 000.
To talk about your own or someone else’s addiction, phone LIFELINE on 13 11 14 24-hours a day.