With courage let us all combine

IEU members, officers, families and friends joined a crowd of three thousand people from school groups, refugee support groups, other trade unions, church groups, community groups, many faith groups, Unions for Refugees, Mums for Refugees, Grandmothers for Refugees, Amnesty, religious orders and others to rally in support of refugees in glorious sunshine (after weeks of rain) for the annual Palm Sunday rally at Hyde Park.

Despite the sunshine and colourful people there was a dark side to the rally. This was expressed repeatedly by the invited speakers. Tears were shed for the lives lost in Australian detention centres, for the alienation of citizens who were refugees who have worked hard and contributed to Australia, for the medical and psychological effects on refugees with an unknown future and for the affect detention has on children. Those at the rally marched and assembled to send a strong message to Australia’s political leaders that we welcome refugees, as a country we can do better and as individuals we will all play our part for a better Australia. We rallied to support the values of justice, peace, unity and harmony.

The themes of the 2017 Palm Sunday rally for refugees was ‘We can do better! Bring them here’!

Speakers on the day were Mark Morey Secretary, Unions NSW, Samuel Pho Vietnamese refugee and Salvation Army National Secretary, Sue Wareham (Medical Association for the Prevention of War), Safy Faizaa (a Sudanese refugee) and Joumana Harris from Muslim Women’s Association with performances from Mahdia Rahman (slam poet) and Sydney Trade Union Choir and Solidarity Choir.

Students from Santa Sabina College Strathfield (pictured above) have previously demonstrated strong credentials in standing up for refugees. A large group of students from the college attended the rally with a striking banner quoting the national anthem Advance Australia Fair “With courage let us all combine”.

Three thousand people then marched, chanted and made a noise through Sydney streets to First Fleet Park, Circular Quay to spread the message to bystanders in Sydney that day.

The people it was all about were involved too. Aziz and Behrouz on Manus Island both sent videos to promote the rally and received Facebook and WhatsApp messages with photos of the rallies in Australia too.

The IEU is running a PIP on refugees on 21 June at Dapto Leagues Club. Check the IEU website to register.

Ann-Maree McEwan