Thousands of Australians rallied yesterday to demand the Government stop off-shore detention and processing of asylum seekers.
The rallies in Melbourne, Sydney and other cities were part of a National Day of Action for Refugees.
They follow an unprecedented protest by about 400 medical staff at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital who last week said they would no longer discharge children they had treated if they would be returned to detention.
In Melbourne, a thousand-strong crowd chanting ‘’We won’t be silenced’’ marched from the State Library through city streets, shutting down access to some city streets. Trams were re-rerouted to accommodate the march.
Newsroom reporter Zena Chamas was there.
The crowd roared its approval when the doctors’ action was mentioned. They have since been supported by Victoria’s Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, who yesterday declared her pride in their stand, saying “we will support them”. The Australian Medical Association also has formally declared its opposition to the detention of children, saying “it is harmful to them, both psychologically and physically”.
The Government has rigorously applied its policy of refusing entry to any unauthorised asylum seekers, intercepting them at sea and moving them to Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island. Even if their status as refugees is confirmed, the Government is determined to resettle them overseas though finding appropriate host nations has proved difficult. There has been so sign of that approach being eased under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.
Many organisations including the Greens Party have damned that policy as inhumane and say change is desperately needed. – Report and video by Zena Chamas