Thousands of people across Australia rallied for a more humanitarian approach towards asylum seekers.
In the midst of Refugee Week, fifteen cities across Australia participated in the ‘Walk Together’, a nation wide walk which advocated for the acceptance and integration of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in to the Australian community.
Melbournians were particularly receptive to the walk, with about 2500 people walking from Parliament House to Argyl Square in Lygon Street, where they were met with musical performances and speeches from television stars Rhys Muldoon and Menik Gooneratne, MP Adam Brandt and Iranian refugee Haidar.
The Walk Together was initiated by Welcome to Australia, a not for profit organisation that fosters a positive voice for all Australians
Victorian branch director Kate O’Brien said that the Walk Together strives to promote a welcoming and inclusive Australia, which embraces cultural diversity.
“Rather than having politics which creates fear, hatred and problem for Asylum seekers, we want a welcoming Australia … we want them to be a part of our community and we want to build friendship with these people.”
“We have a really strong voice, and we have a really loud voice and a really positive voice and a really passionate voice,” Mrs O’Brien said.
The Walk Together was partnered by Amnesty International Australia.
Representing the Nunawading Amnesty Group, Deirdre Farrell said that leaving people in detention centres due to a lack of documentation is inhumane.
“Refugees should not be demonized … not allowing them to work is terrible. All they are doing is creating an underclass, that will be there for a long time”, Mrs Farrell said.
According to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, Australia received 1.8 asylum seekers for every 1000 inhabitants over the last five years. About 2000 children are currently in immigration detention centres across Australia.