Three years ago, Tasmanian grandmothers Polly, Anne and Trish got together in Hobart. With the national discourse continuing to be very anti-refugees and asylum seekers, these women wanted to do something practical to address the welfare of children in detention centres. They wanted to do something more than just write to politicians. And so, the “Tassie Nannas” were born.
The group expanded, and began knitting at their meetings to provide blankets and goods to asylum seekers, along with protest materials, which are displayed in public. “We decided to take to the streets with our knitting needles as a way to be really visible,” Polly told a local Hobart writer. “It’s that often quoted saying, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ We had to do something.”
The Nannas knit blankets and Muslim dolls for refugees who come to Tasmania. They also have sent some to the detention centres in Nauru. The dolls are also used as protest tools, with the Nannas sending them as “yarn bombs” to politicians with messages around their necks. “We’ve visited a lot of politicians and found they’re a little bit scared of grandmothers on mass. We left them with dolls with messages,” says Polly.
The group has expanded to 100 Nannas, and has a spin off called the North West Knitting Nannas, who are based in Devonport. A group of grandmothers from Oatlands has also contacted them.
At a time when asylum seekers and refugees are often dehumanised, these grandmothers help remind us that people are people, and we all need a bit of warmth and love.
The Tassie Nannas knit on Fridays, 11am-1pm in the Elizabeth Street Mall
You can find out more about them on their Facebook page here