On Palm Sunday a keen group from Manningham Uniting Church joined thousands of others from churches, community groups and political parties across Victoria to protest against the Australian government’s treatment of refugees and to call on them to close Manus Island and Nauru.
Meeting in front of the State Library, the gathering heard inspiring speeches from refugee and prize-winning author Behrooz Boochani, broadcast from Manus, Nyadol Nyuon, African refugee, lawyer and community advocate, author Richard Flanagan and lawyer activist David Manne. All spoke passionately and persuasively regarding the need for Australia to provide a welcoming society that treats refugees in a fair and just manner.
Following the speeches in the front of the library those attending marched slowly down Swanston Street to Kings Domain, where further activities took place.
The Palm Sunday activity was a further small but important attempt to bring change to an area of public policy which many Australians view with shame. Along with initiatives such as weekly English classes, support for ‘Hope for Nauru’ and other activities, it was a practical way to show support for those of our community and beyond being harshly treated, and to attempt to bring about change to this.
While the rate of policy change appears glacial at times, the success of campaigns such as those to get children off Nauru and the recent passing of the Medivac bill indicate that efforts of the community seeking change can be successful.
If you would like to see photos of the event – click here