Catholic Social Services Victoria joins our members, the sector, and others of good will in urging attendance at the upcoming Walk for Justice and Freedom for Refugees.
The gathering will start at 2pm on Palm Sunday – April 10th at State Library of Victoria and then walk to the Park Hotel Swanston Street where 8 refugees were held for two years.
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has also urged attendance at Palm Sundays: ‘With the world in considerable turmoil there has never been a greater need for a more compassionate approach to refugee policy,’ said SVDP National Council President Claire Victory. ‘The Society has a long history of assisting vulnerable people such as refugees and asylum seekers, and Palm Sunday is a perfect time to highlight the community’s concerns. It was on this day that Jesus entered Jerusalem to complete his mission “to bring good news to the poor and to set captives free”, through his suffering, death and resurrection.’
This Palm Sunday brings people of diverse faiths, both believers and non-believers alike in walks and rallies across Australia with messages of peace and justice. This is the time when people join together calling for decency from our political leaders.
“We are horrified at the continuing cruel treatment of our fellow human beings in Offshore islands and in 7 detention centres in Australia. We are broken-hearted to hear of the people, families and children living in our community with no proper visas, no support and often no right to work or healthcare. They are totally dependent on the kindness of strangers and denied the dignity of basic human rights,” says Sister Brigid Arthur of the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project.
“Year after year the marches continue, growing louder and stronger. Change is long overdue. This year hearts, minds and prayers are united as the prospect of a change of policy gives us hope. “We celebrate the release of Medevac Refugees after 9 years but are saddened that some still remain locked up without reason. The refugees who have been released into the community on Bridging Visas, are given no support and no prospect of a safe and secure future.” Says Pamela Curr.
“Is there no end to the cruelty? In years to come a better Australia will ask how this policy of indefinite detention of refugees could have been tolerated. We are calling for an End to Detention, Permanent Visas, Safe and Secure Futures ” says Marie Hapke of the Refugee Advocacy Network.
Speakers include Rev Tim Costello AO calling for the release of all refugees from detention.
“Compassion is the core of every faith,” Rev Tim Costello said. “It is significant that religious leaders are urging the Prime Minister, a man of faith, to meet with the Opposition leader and together do something that is ultimately good for all Australians – agree on releasing refugees and asylum seekers held in indefinite detention,” he said.
Faith leaders Adel Salman, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, and Anglican Bishop Paul Barker will also speak.
Refugees Somayeh and Manu will speak about their experiences in not having a permanent protection visas, and the special challenges for those who identify as LGBTI. Writer and refugee advocate Arnold Zable will also speak, drawing on his experience as a friend and mentor to many refugees for whom writing has been a lifeline behind the locked doors of detention.