Three hands united together with a texta tick on the back of each was the photo in my text messages this morning. These were the hands of a mother and her two young children at Kabul airport, and the ticks signified they were good to go on one of the Australian evacuation flights. Many of us here have been called upon to assist those whose lives were imperilled by the Taliban takeover—in my case, including this young family and many more, and I can’t overstate how joyful it was this morning to receive that message that they were safe. Through their messages and their photos, we’ve been able to share a glimpse of their struggle to escape. I’ve seen their despair, with so many false starts and the chaos that surrounds Kabul’s airport. I’ve also seen their incredible courage and endurance.
The international operation in Kabul has been extraordinary, and I’m so grateful for the efforts of the ADF, DFAT and Home Affairs in supporting the evacuation of over 4,000 people. Our involvement in Afghanistan means that we have a special connection to its people. For 20 years, we provided some hope to Afghanis for a better future. Now we will need to do so again but in a different way. We will need to generously help refugees to resettle from Afghanistan, including those most vulnerable—including women and children and ethnic minorities, and the Afghan LGBTI community. We have the examples of the numbers we were able to support during the Syrian refugee crisis. In the weeks, months and years ahead, we can and must offer new hope to those who are at risk of losing so much.