Eight days solidarity protests refugee detention

Refugee support networks came together in solidarity on Sunday. Picture: Dylan Burns
Refugee support networks came together in solidarity on Sunday. Picture: Dylan Burns

A nation-wide campaign of solidarity and protest is set to draw attention to asylum seekers and refugees who have been in detention for more than eight years. 

Australia has run detention centres on Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island, as well as on-shore centres in Broadmeadows, Maribyrnong, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Ballarat refugee support networks are taking part by holding their own protests, which started on Sunday, November 12, and will run until Sunday, November 19.

Ballarat Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children volunteer Maureen Riches said even people who had been processed and found to be genuine refugees had still not been released. 

“What a waste of their life that is, to be in detention for eight years,” she said.

“In that time they could have got a university degree or married and had children.”

The four refugee groups involved are encouraging community members to join them and stand with a banner for a photo. 

“It’s really important that everyone puts their hand up now because it’s just been going on for too long,” Ms Riches said.

“We chose the sites that we did because they are all iconic Ballarat sites and they all have a connection in one way or another to past or present struggles for justice.”

Councillor Belinda Coates said a number of Ballarat people were distressed about the current situation.

“Many have been in contact with me and wanting to contact their federal politicians about this appalling situation,” she said.

“I congratulate the organisers and community groups for putting together a program of eight days locally, I really think it is such an important issue and a real opportunity to show solidarity.”

The stand for justice started on Sunday at the Prime Ministers’ Avenue at the Botanical Gardens. Other locations include Catherine King’s office on Monday at 11am, Queen Victoria statue at the Town Hall at 2pm, Arch of Victory on Wednesday at 2pm, Lake Wendouree Olympic Precinct on Thursday at 2pm, Bakery Hill on Friday at 2pm and House of Welcome on Sunday at 2pm.