Thousands took to the streets on Palm Sunday, throughout the country, to speak out against current refugee and asylum seeker policies.
More than 500 Uniting Church members from different congregations, school and agencies attended the Melbourne event.
Recalling the message of the first Palm Sunday, former Uniting Church President, Rev Alistair Macrae addressed the crowd in Melbourne.
“On the original Palm Sunday Jesus came in peace into Jerusalem,” Mr Macrae said.
“The crowds were very noisy and his opponents asked him to tell them to be quiet and he replied ‘if my followers remain silent the very stones will cry out aloud’.
“So we’re here today to make some noise and cry out loud for justice.”
Noting the groundswell of support for immediate reform to refugee and asylum seeker policies, Mr Macrae stressed the importance of the issue at a national level.
“It’s encouraging to see so many people from such a cross section of our community that have come to join this movement of protest and resistance – because behind this protest lies a very positive vision of what this nation could be.
“Make no mistake – we are at a critical point in Australia’s life.
“Our response to asylum seekers has become a moral litmus test, a heart check, a soul audit if you like. And frankly the signs are not good.
“Manus and Nauru take this all to a new level. They should be closed now and asylum seeker claims be assessed within our community.”
“Refugees and asylum seekers represent a major international challenge and justice demands that wealthy countries, like ours, take our fair share of responsibility.”
Several advocate groups noted the need for sustained campaigning and renewed calls for a major political intervention.
Further marches and demonstrations are planned for later in the year. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org