18 Apr 2019
By Olivia Bunter
Several hundred Perth citizens gathered on Palm Sunday to march through the city, signifying their unwavering support for refugees who await their fate in domestic and overseas detention centres.
The annual walk began outside of the Anglican St George’s Cathedral at 1pm on 14 April.
The participants were undeterred by the rain, and instead marched in solidarity to demonstrate their displeasure with current Australian legislation that instrumentalises asylum-seekers.
The Archdiocese of Perth’s Justice, Ecology and Development Office (JEDO) along with several agencies and faith groups – including Catholic Mission and Caritas Australia – helped organise the event.
JEDO Director Carol Mitchell said people who attended demonstrated compassion, hope and love for a more “welcoming Australia”.
“It’s always pleasing for people of different ages, cultures, faiths, backgrounds and experiences to come together in an act of solidarity for the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Those on the walk represent welcome and inclusion.”
St Mary’s Cathedral Dean, Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, who joins the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice every year, attended this year’s event on behalf of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB.
Fr Fernandez explained that Pope Francis and the Australian Bishops have spoken consistently on the importance of treating asylum-seekers with respect.
“The Holy Father has said that we have a duty of civility towards the asylum-seeker because of the essential dignity of every human person,” Fr Fernandez said.
“We are calling for justice, civility and solidarity in law and policy.
“We were, thus, fulfilling the call of Gaudium et Spes for the faithful to work with people of goodwill for the common good.”
Deacon Greg Lowe, Director of the West Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, also joined other Catholics, Christians, inter-faith and civil society groups in the march to show their support.
Ms Mitchell expressed her hope that the Palm Sunday Walk and other hope-filled actions and motivations let those who have experienced a less welcoming Australia know that they are not alone.
“Whether that be on off-shore detention or within the community – we see them and we respect them – we are a part of the broad community of welcome.”