Representatives of the Refugee Action Collective Eurobodalla joined over 30 Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) groups from around the nation, and other refugee agency representatives and supporters today, converge on Canberra for a major rally at Old Parliament House to then march up to Parliament House to let politicians know that rural Australians do not support cruel policies which punish children and their families.
Following the release of a UN statement over the weekend stressing the urgency of the situation with the physical and mental health of refugees deteriorating rapidly and the expulsion of Medicens Sans Frontierres (MSF) from Nauru last week, a statement signed by nearly 6,000 Australian doctors has now been presented in Parliament, demanding that the government get refugee children and their families off Nauru and Manus Islands.
As part of the Eurobodalla group attending the rally was Anthony Mayne, photographed here meeting a psychiatrist who had been on Manus from MSF Doctors Without Borders.
RAC Eurobodalla convenor, Bernie Richards said: "We are extremely concerned about these innocent refugees whose lives are at stake. These families have been punished enough. Australia's international reputation as a caring country who gives everyone a "fair go" is also at stake. We are marching on Parliament because something has to be done now.
Three Liberal MPs also want Scott Morrison to get asylum seeker children off Nauru. Russell Broadbent, Craig Laundy and Julia Banks have taken the extraordinary step of speaking out against the harsh conditions on the Pacific Island. Reported in the Herald Sun they said conditions on Nauru are at a "tipping point" and called for the children to be evacuated to Australia for medical care. Those attending the rally heard from Green’s MP Adam Bandt, a phsycholgist from medicin San Frontier recently evicted from Nauru and Dr Paul Bauert, a senior paediatrician who knows full well the cases of the children coming into Australia from the Nauru and Manus camps. The Greens are enunciating that the Liberal and Labor parties “have spent years locking up people in offshore hellholes.” “In recent weeks, the impact of this policy on children trapped on Nauru has been condemned by doctors and the United Nations.
“In response to this health crisis, the Greens and cross-party MPs will introduce a bill to intervene and urgently bring children and their families from Nauru to Australia so they can access medical and psychological assistance.”
Rural Australians for Refugees say that the cracks in the bipartisan support for a torturous offshore detention regime are showing – “and we need to keep fighting and make sure the 3 Government MPs stay strong”. In all around 800 rural protesters rallied in Canberra to tell politicians what they thought of offshore detention policy coming from as far away as Armidale, Biloela, Dubbo and Bendigo with the Mayor and school children from Leeton making a solid statement that Leeton is a town that welcomes refugees.