The callous response to the famine in East Africa shows that our luxurious lifestyles in Australia have stopped us from exercising empathy

  • Phoebe Williams is a paediatric doctor at Sydney Children’s Hospital, currently working in rural Kenya

Earlier this month Adam Gartrell’s article flashed up on my phone screen as I walked between hospital wards in which critically unwell children are congested three-to-a-bed in rural Kenya.

The title (“Ignorant and ugly: Australian social media attitudes to an African disaster”) stopped me in my tracks – a combination of surprise that the devastation I am bearing witness to each day was reaching our isolated nation’s news cycle, and utter sorrow to see it had conjured such abhorrent comments on social media. It painted our nation as one in which our citizens are devoid of empathy, or ubuntu.

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