Ballarat’s refugee advocates say a life without hope is no life to be living.
Thursday will mark the five-year anniversary of an announcement by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that “asylum seekers who come here by boat without a Visa will never be settled in Australia”.
Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) and Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children have this week protested outside Federal MP Catherine King’s office saying the policy has taken away all hope from refugees who remain in detention.
Ballarat RAR spokeswoman Henrietta Camilleri said “five years is five years too long”.
READ MORE: Ballarat Grandmothers' parliament protest
“We want to voice our outrage at the fact that 785 refugees including 22 children still remain, without hope, on Manus Island and Nauru,” Ms Camilleri said.
“There have been 12 asylum seekers who have died there and they are represented by the 12 empty chairs.
“They are victims of despair, inadequate medical attention and the insecurity of their environment.”
Ms Camilleri said five billion dollars had been spent on the offshore “solution”.
“Ballarat RAR and Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children call for an end to this suffering,” she said.
“This needs to happen by Australian political parties accepting that a humanitarian solution needs to be found and bringing all recognised refugees on Manus and Nauru here.
“This needs to be a first step towards resettlement in safe countries including Australia and New Zealand.”
READ MORE: Grandmothers push for refugee legal aid
On July 19, 2013, Mr Rudd announced new tough refugee laws which sent refugees to Papua New Guinea.
Those who were found to be refugees, were to be resettled there.
''I understand that this is a very hard line decision,'' Mr Rudd said at the time.
Under the regional resettlement arrangement signed with Papua New Guinea, people will be sent to Manus Island and elsewhere in PNG for processing as soon as health and security checks are complete.
A “Rally for Refugees - 5 years too many” will be at the State Library in Melbourne on July 21 from 2pm.