Rebecca Selleck: Statement
Driving through national park on a scenic route home following the fires we slowed to a stop as the form of an eastern grey kangaroo appeared ahead. She’d been hit and left on the road. I stayed in the car with our infant son as my partner went to check on her. I heard a dull thud before I saw him in the side mirror pulling her off the road to the base of a young eucalypt. It felt like minutes before he returned, knocking gently on my window with downcast eyes and small form in his arms. The joey was limp, but still warm despite the cold day, and with a trace of breath and a heartbeat. Rifling through our luggage in the boot I found my son’s koala themed towel and together we wrapped him up. There was no reception out there. I cradled him close as we continued driving towards Canberra in the vain hope of getting him to the closest person who would help. I could feel the distance growing between him and his mum. And then it wasn’t too long before there weren't any more breaths or heartbeats, but I kept holding him close.
In the backseat my beautiful son slept through all of it. He was ten months old and, since discovering his heart and lung issues at birth, had spent half his life in hospitals through multiple surgeries, recoveries and declines. He was doing reasonably well by this point, with everything possible being done to help him. I held that joey like my son, quietly crying for the distance between him and his mother and the value that was placed on each of them.
My work has always been concerned with the painful complexity of animal and environmental ethics in Australia, but our disconnect never felt so real or agonising as it did in that moment. It was too much to keep inside. I invite you to sit with the joey, now a gleaming form on a soft bench sheltered under a eucalypt sapling. I hope that he makes you feel something. His original form is back with his mum now lost along that scenic route.