We are committed to keeping this blog active throughout 2018 with writing, art, music, interviews, news reports, poetry and updates of what our members are doing throughout the year.

I am a writer and musician. I’ve been looking for freedom since I knew myself.  Thunder (Manus) Free Poetry, Castlemaine


Samad has joined Writing Through Fences as our website administrator to work alongside Gary.  He will be working from PNG where he has been detained indefinitely for more than 4 years.  His job will include updating our website and keeping the blog active with writings, reports, poetry, music, art and other happenings from people who are affected by Australia’s immigration policies.

– Janet

About me: 

My name is Samad and I’m from Pakistan. I have been detained illegally for years in a place where it’s so easy for hope and dreams to be demolished. I wasn’t a writer but this place made me a writer. My pain made me a writer.  Although I can’t take my dreams from the people who destroyed them I will use my words as a weapon and will not allow them to destroy more dreams.

I completed high school and then went on to do 2 more years of general studies in the Faculty of Science.  I also studied some  Basic Engineering and attended English classes before I was forced to flee my homeland.

I became interested in writing when I came here to PNG.   When there isn’t anyone with me I always write.

My strength is in my hope of building a great image of a great future in my thoughts.  I want to study Human Rights and be a social worker / advocate for women and girls rights in my country.  My culture denies them their rights. 

I have written a short piece about my passion for the rights of women and girls in his country.  It is included in this first blog of 2018 and titled: My Dream.

You can also see an article I wrote from Manus published by the Australian Independent Media Network in 2017 here https://theaimn.com/?s=Samad+Abdul+

My dream : writing by Samad Abdul

It might be so normal for lots of people who see a bird to be captured by some one but the way the innocent bird is crying, do we feel the pain?

The society where I lived,  has plenty of innocent birds and those beautiful birds are girls, who want support, motivation, positivity, freedom and education but we have failed to give them their fundamental rights.

It’s just normal for the majority of people and unfortunately they are proud of themselves for not allowing girls to have their fundamental rights.

There are still lots of people who believe giving birth to a baby girl is a big shame. How can a girl survive in a society where a boy is allowed to do what ever he wants  but a girl is strictly denied?

Since childhood, girls have been told,  ‘why would you want to study when you will end up with marriage life when you turn 16 and you will look after the kids for the rest of your life?’  That is the big excuse made by a culture centuries ago and the majority are happy with that.

Her life decision is under her parents or elder brothers control until she gets married.  After marriage she will be expected to do what her husband tells her to do.

She can’t go alone anywhere, she can’t make life decisions,  she is not allowed to work, she’s always expected to accept the unacceptable.  That’s how the girls are surviving in my society.

I want the girls in my society to be proud, to be motivated, to be supported,  to be educated and my biggest dream is to sacrifice my life for them and fight against that part of my society, and for girl’s and women’s freedom.

  • Samad Abdul . 31 January 2018

Blog Archive


Hani Abdile is a writer and spoken word poet who fled the civil war in Somalia. She made her way to Australia and was detained on Christmas Island. Hani is an honorary member of PEN, and a lead writer for  Writing Through Fences.  Hani has received numerous awards for her community work and other achievements since being released from immigration detention. Her first book I Will Rise was published in 2016 to much acclaim and is available through the Writing Through Fences website shop. 


(photo by Rodney Decker)

Oooh old friends

My beloved friend

Many days

We laughed

We chased each other

We tickled


But that wasn’t my favourite


We rolled in the mud

So thick, double to our skin

Danced in the rain

As we thought we could bless the land.


We re-owned our lost childhood

Your smiles fully healed my wounds

So shiny and sharp.


I was addicted to your company

I felt disgrace to leave you behind

But my friend you have chosen the traditional way.


Seeing your photos my perfect friend —

Life always takes unexpected turns

You dive into abuse and rise like a sun

Blessed to be a mother of two

My ship has sailed on unknown shores

While yours still floats on the garden of your birth.

Hani Abdile 2018


Boush Idris Mohammed

Boush is a writer from the the Zaghawa tribe in the Darfur region of Sudan from where he was forced to flee.  He is one of the most consistent members of Writing Through Fences, working actively within the group since 2013.  His love of story and writing has him hoping to become a teacher.  After years of being detained in Indonesia he was  granted Refugee Status by the UN but remains in limbo in Indonesia.  Boush is an avid reader and is learning guitar.  His work appears in the chapbook Our Beautiful Voices published by Writing Through Fences, on the Writing Through Fences website, was played on Refugee Radio 3CR and his piece ‘Mama Africa’ was part of the Through The Moon performance at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2017.



So many nights

Many nights I had with many fake dreams,

but still it’s the new beginning;

Many schools we have with limited qualifications, 

but still the hardest is the school of life.

From the beginning I felt the test of my destiny

and from suffering I learned – 

discovering confidence and determination 

are always my clear destination.

– Boush 2018



Screaming at my beloved country.

Screaming at the land where leaders are giving attention to their pockets rather than caring.

Screaming at the land where human tragedy is alive. 

Screaming at the land where governors love corruption rather than love their people.

Screaming at the land of broken tribes, of houses destroyed and economic collapse, where people are depressed and angry, where we pass each other with no greeting and if we do speak its just robotic communication. 

Screaming because we don’t care who we are and we don’t care where we are 

while we have all grown up from the same land, 

fed like twins from the same mother.

– Boush 2018



“Late report but necessary to read once”

It was 3am on the 1st of February 2018. As I wrote this report the sound of the cries from my cellmates rang in my ears.

The rain poured down and washed away my pain, the tears dropped from my eyes dripped onto my mobile keypad.

It has been fifteen consecutive days of protest in Balikpapan Prison camp, East Kalimantan, Indonesia now, we have been demanding freedom from incarceration and a safe and secure life. Now the refugees have decided to initiate their night-time protest.

The chronic pain of exile. Incarcerated for a period of four years. No real hope for ever achieving a peaceful life, no real hope in ever achieving a life without oppression; the refugees embarked on this journey purely because of their inner strength and stamina.

Minutes after they began their protest, after sounding their cries for freedom and their pleas for help, the head warden of the prison arrived together with a group of local police officers.

At this point everyone was calm and they raised their hands up in a show of submission. For some time the head warden of the prison camp hurled as much abuse and insults as he could muster up; he also threatened to press criminal charges and imprison the refugees in the local jails. This is what he told the refugees.

A few were so unbearably tired and felt so totally hopeless. They were completely shocked, their hearts had faltered and they felt they would never be free from this prison… they lost all control of themselves.

Two individuals collapsed for the first time ever and began to tremble. The refugees, who had no medical or first aid skills whatsoever, rushed over to keep the two of them stable lest they hurt themselves or anyone else.

The security guards watching the whole situation unfold not only did not help, they called the local police over and then closed the door and left the scene.

The situation continued like this for a period of time until more individuals began to suffer from heart pain and fainted from the shock. The whole thing was totally out of control. Everyone was screaming, and some were helping the fallen. Nineteen individuals in total had lost all hope and entered a state of shock. Among all this a small youth of fourteen years old also lost control, causing his older brother to enter a state of shock and panic for a short time. Actually, until a few months ago most of the people here were underage and had entered manhood while incarcerated.

The situation is now back under control. No one has any medical training, and there is no one else here to assist us. The immigration officers and IOM have left and gone to sleep in their comfortable beds. Total silence everywhere. Every now and then one of the people who collapsed would let out a yell and then weep. However, they have friends beside them to look after them; they hold down their arms and legs firmly so they do not hurt themselves or others.

It is unclear what will transpire tomorrow. I do not know the consequences of writing this report, I do not know if I will still be alive or not for exposing this. I do not know if I will be cuffed and taken to one of the local prisons, or if I will just remain here and continue to be a voice for the refugees and cry for help.

In any case, I have written this report for people to read and realise that we are still alive – do not let us be buried alive.

For more than a century we have been buried alive everyday and massacred. Tell me, is this civilisation and modernity, is this what you call support for human rights and the oppressed.

Just know that this situation is no different to the terrorist groups who make our lives a living hell and massacre us with bullets and blades.

When they kill us it happens once and our bodies are put to rest, but in here our very souls are dying everyday.

– Erfan Dana in Indonesia

Translated by Omid Tofighian, American University in Cairo/University of Sydney


RISE Press Release Re-Invasion day aka “Australia Day” in 2018

We Refugees, Ex-detainees and Asylum seekers from RISE condemn any group or individual who claims to be pro-refugee but celebrates Invasion Day aka “Australia Day” on the 26th of January.

“We believe the systemic abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a result of over 200 years of discrimination as part of the white colonial genocide strategy that continues to this day and this template is now being used against our own refugee communities. How can we dismantle the white Australian government’s refugee torture camps built within and outside its colonial borders without addressing the root cause of this criminal abuse?”

RISE founder and eX-detainee, Ramesh Fernandez “As survivors of occupation, rape, torture and oppression we should not undermine the struggle for survival that other oppressed community groups face. We should respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their sovereignty. It is not a day to poster yourself on a billboard, dance, sing or wrap a flag around yourself that represents occupation, colonisation and genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia”.

As Refugees seeking protection and freedom on this land we acknowledge that we live in occupied territories where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the traditional owners and where sovereignty has never been ceded. ‘Always was, always will be Aboriginal land’.

Full Press Release here : http://riserefugee.org/rise-press-release-re-invasion-day-…/



Listen to the latest show here:


A message from Jenell Quinsee:

Melbourne has a small community radio station and they have a show every Sunday at 10am called Refugee Radio.

We are able to play recordings of your poetry, music, stories, and anything you want! This is an exciting opportunity for people to hear your work if you would like this.

We already have some recordings of your work and can start playing them. You can also make new recordings and send them to me if you would like them played on radio. It does not have to be in English. If you wish to record in your own language please do!

If you cannot send me audio files we can read your poetry on the radio show instead.

I will contact some of you by message to get your consent to play your poetry and music. You do not have to use your name if you don’t want to.

Also…if there is anyone who lives in the Melbourne community you are invited to produce the show and make it yours. You will receive full training about how to be a radio presenter. Wow wow wow!!!

You can contact Jenell on facebook or through the Writing Through Fences contact page or through our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/135276877042748/


We will add to our blog every week and upload a newsletter each month letting you know what we have been up to.

If you are writing, making art or music and are someone who has been forced to flee your homeland you can join us at Writing Through Fences, share your work and take part in projects.

If you are interested in helping us to continue our work please think about donating to one of our projects.  Go to the projects menu and you will see what it is we are up to.

This is a recent art work by J.Luan – Dancing Brush titled ‘Waiting Door’.

You can find more of his work and buy his work at https://www.jluanart.com/about










http://scenestr.com.au/arts/queensland-poetry-festival-judith-wright-centre-review-20170903 a link to a review about QPF that includes Writing Through Fences.

WRITING THROUGH FENCES at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2017

We acknowledge that our voices, and some of us, are travelling to Yugerra Yugembul country, having passed through various other countries in this continent and world. We acknowledge your ongoing cultures and languages and offer out respect to all your peoples, Elders past, present and future.

This beautiful art work which will feature throughout our various events is by Mahmoud Salameh.  Thank you again for your constant support and inspiration Mahmoud.


art work, Same Moon by Mahmoud Salameh

Through The Moon – Saturday 26th August 2017
1pm – 2pm
BEMAC Level 1 102 Main St Kangaroo Point

with Juan Garido Salgado, Hani Abdile, Ahmad Aeinjamshid, Ahlam Moahamed, Ibtisam Ahmed,  Jenell Quinsee, Nick Theodoropoulos,


Farhad Bandesh, Kaveh, Maria, Kazem, Boush, Abdi, Areqou, Lilla, Jajee, Sajjad, Farhad, Rajan, Sri, Moh, Rahman, Sabaa, Milad, A., Iqbal, Ali, Mohammad, Janet

Through the Moon is a weaving of poetry, words, conversations,  song and music from members of Writing Through Fences – including those who are held hostage in off-shore and on-shore prison camps, and in limbo in Indonesia and in community in Australia.  Here we find resistance and the affirmation of life through creation and relationship.

Poetry and Displacement Panel – Saturday 26th August 2017
2:30pm-3:30pm BEMAC

Members of Writing Through Fences will speak a little of poetry and displacement and then invite questions from the audience.

Please be mindful of your questions. We are here to present and speak about our work. We hope you will respect us and limit your questioning to the relevant topics rather than our private lives.

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art – IMA Screening Room, 420 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley

AN INVITATION: We hope you watch and listen deeply – as you would with any encounter with any artist or art work – and, importantly, that you listen with a desire to listen openly, not for what you expect but to allow yourself to be absorbed, slashed, challenged by something other than what you expect.

1. Moz from Manus: Rap with video clip: ‘All the same’ with Artists Against Detention

2. Aziz (check out his collaborative award winning podcast ‘The Messenger’) with Michael Green and Behind The Wire
‘Daily Dreams’written and spoken by Abdul Aziz Muhammat (Manus Island) recorded and produced by Michael Green, Through The Wire.

3.’ Who I am’ written and performed by Hani Abdile recorded and produced by Christopher Miles

4. ‘Writing Through Fences’ for ABC by Jane Curtis

5. 11pm , 11 December 2015, Australia’s black site on Nauru
‘Violence against women is one of the great shames of Australia’
PM Turnbull March 8, 2016 written by Maya (psuedonym) and Janet Galbraith. Production by Hannah Patchett

6. ‘We need you’, written and spoken by Ibtisam Ahmed, art work by Iqbal. Production: Jane Curtis

‘Resisting Silence: Poetry and stories from Australia’s political prisoners’. An Empty Chair Sound installation. Sunday 27th August, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art 
From four years on bunk beds in Manus refugee detention prison camp, the streets and detention camps of Indonesia and Malaysia, the prison camps on Nauru, in Brisbane and Melbourne, men, women and children have storied and mapped some of the most intimate impacts of nation building in Australia, nation building that occurs on their bodies.
1. I am 67 years old
Thank you to Farhad Shah who worked closely with a woman from Burma to write down her story as she requested and send to Writing Through Fences. The woman’s story is voiced by Janet Galbraith.
2. Lina – Friendship.  Thank you to Michael Green and Through The Wire for recording and production.
3. Imran Mohammed – Four years in a bunk bed. Recorded by Imran Mohammed.  Production by Rose Ertler.
4. Amir Taghinia – Multilingual Negotiations. Recorded by Amir Taghinia. Production by Rose Ertler.


Some of WTF members have been invited to read from Writing to the Wire Sun 27 Aug 5pm Judith Wright Shopfront, free

Hani Abdile has been invited to read at Voices of Colour Multilingual Slam Sunday 27 Aug Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art

Janet Galbraith will be reading (via distance) at The Day is Here: Poetry + Spoken Word Sat 26 Aug 4-5pm Judith Wright Screening Room, free

If you were not able to pick up a copy of  I Will Rise or Our Beautiful Voices at the event, you can buy on line at the Shop

I will rise

I WILL RISE BY HANI ABDILE15094291_1228447800548361_2239501594287121452_n

MELBOURNE LAUNCH : 2pm – 5pm, Sunday January 8, 2017 with Girls on Key OPEN STUDIO 204 High St, Northcote.

From the poet/author Hani Abdile

People often ask me why do I write? What they don’t know is that I wasn’t a writer or a poet until moments of suffering made me a writer.

I was sitting in a place where there was only a fence and hapless humans. My pen and paper were bright flashes that lit up my steps.  I had no hope other than writing poetry and turning what I wrote into reality.

When everything else in your life is dictated by others, writing become enjoyable. It is not forced. It is a weapon against stress and despair.

For me it was a way of healing and relief. At first it was just a personal thing that I didn’t want to share with anyone because i was afraid of people discovering my weakness.  One day when my eyes were bleeding tears and pain was knocking me away, everything I was feeling came out on the table. I posted a poem on Facebook called Freedom for Education and a remarkable human being sent me a message saying ‘are you a poet?’  I didn’t understand the meaning of the word poet so I googled it. I answered no but Janet didn’t give up on me. We started working together. I kept writing.

I joined Writing Through Fences. It was amazing how welcome I felt thereWe all come from different races and religions. I started to rise and build my talent. I was no longer afraid of my weakness because in Writing Through Fences we had something in common.  Everyone was going through hardships of life in different ways and writing the pain was our secret doctor.  Now these people are not only fellow members but family and everlasting friends.

I Will Rise shows my development as a writer. It means a lot to me and the people who are by my side through this journey.

From Miles Merril of Word Travels:

Hani is an incredibly brave writer. This book is a cathartic journey, purging her hardships through the creation of beauty. Hani throughout the pain of her experiences has kept hope and joy alive through her poetry. From Somalia to Christmas Island detention to Sydney, the theme of Hani’s challenging life has been and still is ‘I Will Rise’.  The poems are full of passion, emotion and intellectual depth.  The kind of passion that tears at the reader/listener and forces us to question out won role in keeping prolific artists like this locked away from Australian shores.  The richness of her language and the vividness of her imagery signals the beginnings of a great writer. Keep watching this poet.

From Abdi Aden author of The Shining Boy.

I Will Rise is an amazing collection of poetry and prose that dates back years.  Hani’s work shines.  The stories are full of struggles and warmth of belonging.  Hani is able to reflect the absolute angst of being a refugee. I was able to identify myself in her so stories however also gained insights into the plight of others. Without a doubt Hani is a true talent.

From Dr Karen Zwi : Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry into the impact of detention on children.

I first met Hani when she was detained on Christmas Island as an “unacompanied minor” as part of Australia’s policy of mandatory, indefinite detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat. I was visiting as part of the Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry  into the impact of detention on children.  Hani lit up the room with her smile, her aspirations and her wisdom, even though she and her fellow detainees were locked in a grim and hopeless situation.

Through her remarkable gift of connecting deeply with people, we stayed in contact as she remained detained and reached a point of life-threatening despair and as she was released and began to “rise”.  Hani has a “positive soul that gives hope to others”. I have been truly humbled by her strength of character, her intense motivation to learn and explore, her engagement with poetry, photography, hospitality and almost anything else she encounters, and her commitment and kindness to all the people she meets along the way.  She has made her way into my heart like no one else I have ever met and her powerful poetry, the “weapon against [her] stress”, will allow her readers that privilege too.

About Hani Abdile

Hani Abdile is a poet, writer, photographer, student and author/poet of I WILL RISE.  Hani touches everyone she comes in contact with.  Her first collection of poetry and prose has finally been released by Writing Through Fences.  Her work offers many the opportunity to experience some of Hani’s spirit, wonder and strength as well as her commitment to justice and life.  She speaks the sufferings and joys that few are able to. 

Hani says : “My pen and paper were bright flashes that lit up my steps.  I had no hope other than writing poetry and turning what I wrote into reality”.  I WILL RISE reflects Hani’s tenacity, her dedication to writing and her creative approach to all that life has brought.

Hani began writing in 2013 whilst incarcerated in immigration detention on Christmas Island.  Over the three years she has learned to read and write English, has written the collection I Will Rise, has completed 2 years of schooling, become a regular and celebrated spoken word poet in the Sydney scene, has inspired and guided many other writers in similar situations to herself, has spoken publicly and worked on committees to further the rights of children who are seeking asylum in Australia.

Hani is an honorary member of PEN, a lead writer for Writing Through Fences, and has received various awards for her community work and many achievements since being released from immigration detention.

Writing Through Fences are so proud to be associated with her.  Hani is a treasured friend and part of our family.  We all wish you well with this wonderful achievement dear sister.

I Will Rise is published by Writing Through Fences and can be purchased through the website writingthroughfences.org

If you are interested in promoting this book or hosting a launch please contact us at fenceswritingthrough@gmail.com  and cc to galbraithjanet3@gmail.com

Who will cry for the young men?



It has been a hard week for many with the High Court decision coming down largely in favor of the government.

Here are some responses from writers in detention.


Aziz is a writer and human rights defender who has been detained on Manus Island for 31 months.

He prefaces the poem with:

I wrote this poem after the High Court ruled against us which is very disappointing for all of us. The refugee activists were carrying out big protests around the cities of Australia which will make us to not lose hope although we have been languishing in detention centre for 31 months and now languish indefinately.

We are in huge conflict with our mental health because of ongoing torture and trauma including harassment from the staff.

I am requesting from all of my friends to keep hope.

Let us break this silence of the coconut trees and the ocean.

Let us back to our normal lives outside of the fences.


image by Mohsen Jakarta

Who will cry for the young men?

Who will cry for the young men

lost and all alone?

Who will cry for the young man

abandoned without his own?

Who will cry for the young men

tortured in detention?

Who will cry for the young man

who cries himself to sleep?

Who will cry for the young men

who never have their keeps?

Who will cry for the young men

who walk in burning sand?

Who will cry for the young men,

the boy inside the man,

who knows the world’s hurt and pain?

Who will cry for the young men,

who died and die again?

Who will cry for the young men?

Good men they are trying to be.

Who will cry for the young men?

I cry inside of me.

Who will cry for the young men?

I will.

We will together.

– Aziz, Manus.


And an article by Behrouz Boochani in The Age




Welcome to our new Writing Through Fences blog.


Here you will find:

  • articles by our contributors and members
  • information about our activities
  • reviews
  • news

We will sometimes have a guest blogger and will notify you of that.

So go ahead and peruse where we are at so far.

This is a space for the voices of writers, artists and commentators who are seeking asylum, or have sought asylum in Australia.