She came to Australia as an “enemy alien”, so Williamstown’s Joan Lynn is passionate about asylum seekers and children in detention. She speaks with Goya Dmytryshchak.

 

What’s your connection to Hobsons Bay?

Back in Christmas 1985, early ’86, I was looking after a friend’s apartment down on Nelson Place and another friend, who was visiting, said: “You know, it would be like having a holiday here for every day of your life if you lived here”. We actually found this house which hadn’t been lived in for about 20 years and it was an amazing price – this was back in ’86 – so for $50,000 we got this house.”

 

Can you tell me about the volunteering you do?

For the last 14 years, I’ve been volunteering at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. I’ve done a hell of a lot of volunteering – telephone counselling, etcetera. I still go two days a week because I really want to be involved in that area … it’s great for me as an 80-year-old to be with a lot of different age groups. I am the Gellibrand contact for the Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children. We advocate to get the children out of detention, which destroys lives, whether on or offshore. We strongly believe all children deserve to be safe.

 

What are you passionate about and why?

Obviously, human rights. As a small child, we came here as refugees and we were extremely lucky that my parents actually got a visa. We were extremely lucky despite the fact that we were seen as enemy aliens for quite some time. I often think that we don’t know who the enemy are … we were escaping Hitler but because we came from Austria, we were seen as enemy aliens. I also am very concerned about climate for my grandchildren’s world.

 

What do you love about Williamstown?

The village feel about it, of course. It’s a peninsula. It provides such a lovely sense of the sea, which is something I really love. My sense is that it’s a very friendly place. I came from over the other side, as we call it, and to be near the sea has always been a passion for me.

 

What would you change about it?

It’s interesting because in the time I’ve been in this house every house in this street has changed or been renovated in some way. And that’s OK – what I’d hate to lose is the historic part of the sea port … I am concerned about the new development at the end of our street [Port Phillip Woollen Mill development]. I guess people aren’t going to come just with bikes – they are going to have their cars. It is something that has consequences that are known and some that could be quite unforeseeable.

 

What’s your favourite cafe or eatery?

I have two – friends and I alternate between Choks Pot and Novel Kitchen in Ferguson Street. We enjoy the food and we enjoy the lovely warmth and friendship that we get there from the owners, as well.