A rally to celebrate cultural diversity will take place in Lismore next Saturday (October 22), as well as in more than 20 other cities and towns around Australia.
Called Walk Together, organisers say the rally aims to promote compassion, build unity and to welcome to people seeking asylum, refugees and other new arrivals.
Across Australia celebrities including Missy Higgins, Judith Lucy and Tom Ballard will be joining the rallies – and in Lismore The Winsome Choir will be singing.
The Lismore event is the culmination of 36 weeks of action by a group of dedicated citizens who have been holding a vigil outside Page Nationals MP Kevin Hogan’s office in Molesworth St every Thursday from 4:30pm.
The messages on their signs spell out their concerns: ‘Close the Camps’, ‘Asylum Seeker Policies = Human Rights Abuse’, ‘Bring them Here’, ‘Human Rights for All’, ‘Stop the Cruelty’.
Organisers say a large percentage of drivers passing the vigil wave or express in other ways their support of the demonstrators.
They are calling for people to walk together on Saturday for a society that ‘upholds human rights and is guided by mutual respect between all groups of the community.’
Organisers of the Lismore rally – Amnesty International and Remembering and Healing – say, ‘it is high time to stop the brutalising of vulnerable people who have fled terrible conditions and are asking for our help.
‘The UN has warned the Australian government about the inhumane conditions at our detention centres. These conditions are in breech of the international agreements Australia has signed,’ the groups said in a statement.
‘It is shameful that our government readily points the finger at human rights abuses in other countries, but sets up and defends human rights abuses at home. This has to change!’
Mohammad Al-Khafaji, CEO of the group Welcome to Australia, says ‘right now, where there is fear mongering and division, it is more important than ever that we promote unity, respect and inclusion towards all in our community.’
‘We must work towards a community which rejects racism, and celebrates our inclusive multicultural nation.’
‘Walk Together is our opportunity to call out the best in Australians to come together and support refugees and new arrivals, and to stand with them, and say welcome.’
‘We have more in common than that which divides us.’
The Lismore Walk Together rally will take place at the Lismore Transit Centre in Magellan St from 10am, Saturday, October 22, followed by a march through the Lismore CBD.