A local Palm Sunday Rally for Justice4Refugees on Sunday, April 14 was considered a very successful event by the coordinating committee.
Over 50 keen participants from the Great Lakes and Manning Valley gathered at the Forster Ocean Baths and walked in silence across the bridge to John Wright Park.
Great Lakes Rural Australians for Refugees coordinator, Margaret Gardner, and Lesley Bond from the Manning RAR, gave presentations outlining the current situation effecting the remaining refugees on Manus and Nauru, and the government's administrative and policy framework impacting on these people.
As part of a nationwide event called the 'Circle of Silence', the names of 12 men who have died in Australian offshore detention since 2014 were read followed by a moment's silence in recognition of each person.
Many of the walkers expressed their strong views that Australia should have more humane policies on asylum seekers.
"It is not illegal to seek asylum, and yet Australia is breaching our international obligations in the way we continue to treat asylum seekers," Mrs Gardner said.
She pointed to a recent speech by Australian author Tim Winton in which he stated our national asylum seeker policies (supported by both major parties) have "eaten into our public spirit and made a travesty of our most sacred values, the very things we thought we stood for as a society - our sense of decency, fairness, justice, compassion, openness."
"While we are a nation that has a tradition of fairness and decency and openness of which we can rightly be proud, the recent treatment of asylum seekers was a major concern to the people marching on Sunday, both here in Forster Tuncurry, and more broadly throughout the nation," Mrs Gardner said.
Great Lakes RAR acknowledged the important work done by the recently departed St Kathryn McCabe, who was much loved and very committed to social justice, and an active member of GL RAR.