Local song writer Justin Hart's brilliance has been recognised through a fourth place finish in Songs Alive! - Australia's national song writing competition.
Winning recognition in the Lyrics Only- Lyrics of the Year category for his song, 'Privilege to Be Free', is well timed, as this Friday, July 19, is the sixth anniversary of Australia's offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Islands.
Justin is an active member of 'Compassion and Justice for Refugees' in Whyalla, who are very concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government.
Justin commented on why he had written this song:
"The poor treatment of refugees is an issue that has been around for some time now," he said.
"Back in 2012, the rate of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat had risen to over 2,000 per month, and by September 30th that year, 7,670 people were being held in closed immigration detention across Australia.
"Around this time, there were almost 2,000 refugees detained on Christmas Island, Nauru had just started processing asylum seeker claims, and a facility was being established on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
"During this period, there was a lot of attention given to the issue, including significant negative hysteria, and it's out of this context that I wrote the song in 2012, and then worked with my songwriting partner, Rob Pippan, to put music to the lyrics."
He went on further to say:
"The purpose of the song was to alert people to the shocking conditions under which refugees had to flee situations of terror and seek safe asylum in other lands, like Australia, that were supposedly forward thinking and compassionate, but didn't always illustrate these values," Justin said.
"I wanted to challenge the notion, held by many of us, that while we have freedom, for others it should be conditional, hence the title: "Privilege to be Free".
"Ultimately though, putting politics, bigotry and xenophobia aside, the song attempts to speak to each of us at the most basic level of self-interest to stimulate some compassion.
"Namely that if we were caught up in the same situation as refugees, wouldn't we also do whatever was needed to seek somewhere safe for ourselves and our loved ones.
"The only difference between each of us and refugees is the situation we are born into."
A well-known poet and journalist, Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish-Iranian refugee, detained on Manus since 2013, stated that the results of recent Australian Federal Elections have negatively impacted on the refugees, and many have lost hope.
This Friday protest rallies will be held by members of 'Rural Australians for Refugees', and local politicians will be contacted to gain their support to end off-shore detention.
Those interested in being a part of Whyalla's 'Compassion and Justice for Refugees', please contact Jenny Kondylas or Bronwyn Ellis.