Set the children free protest in Gosford

Central Coast residents rallied together outside the office of Member for Robertson Ms Lucy Wicks on Monday, July 14, to protest the detainment of children in Australian immigration processing facilities.

The group claims the Abbott Government’s support of such actions violates basic human rights. For almost two hours, the office CCNews_Child_Protest_Emma_Hornof Ms Wicks was transformed into the canvas of a peaceful protest. Demonstrators stood should-to-shoulder in front of the office holding paper dolls and chanting “set the children free”. Ms Wicks said the detention network was filled to the brim with thousands of people who arrived illegally by boat under Labor. “The Government is providing the necessary care and support for people in our detention network and working swiftly to reduce the number of people in detention. It is now more than 200 days since the last successful people smuggling venture arrived in Australia – reducing deaths at sea and the risks taken by those who attempt to make the treacherous journey by boat to Australia.

We’re saving lives at sea; we’re saving more than $2.5 billion of costs to the budget; and we’re reducing the number of people in immigration detention – I note that the number of children in detention has reduced overall by more than 30% since the Coalition Government took office. “The decision by Labor in government to take away the Coalition’s effective border protection policies led to more than 50,000 illegal arrivals, including more than 8,000 children and tragically more than 1,100 deaths at sea,” said Ms Wicks.

Amongst the crowd of peaceful protestors was Bez, a former Ethiopian orphan. “I’m here today to inform and tell people about the imprisonment of children who are only five,” said Bez. “They’ve done nothing wrong but they’ve been imprisoned, and taken to detention for no apparent reason, only that they’re seeking asylum. “They don’t deserve to be in prison. “They deserve their freedom.” Protester Mr Jack Lloyd said: “I just am appalled that there are refugee children being held in detention on Christmas Island.”

“This is absolutely not good for them and it’s a breach of human rights.” There are currently around 1,038 children in detention facilities, something Gosford Anglican’s Father Rod Bower said he found inexcusable. “They are showing signs of being abused, they’re not sleeping, they’re self-harming… and this is wrong,” he said. “It’s immoral. “It’s inhumane.” For just under two hours, protesters continued to tack the paper dolls onto the windows of Ms Wicks’ office. “It’s symbolic,” said protestor Ms Michelle Mc Nicol who supplied the chain of dolls. “I wanted to make one for each of the children detained wrongfully.” Lloyd said: “This will give a clear message to the Australian government.” “When the government does this, it does not do this in my name,” said Mr Lloyd.

Email, 14 Jul 2014  
Emma Horn  
Media release, 21 Jul 2014  
Tim Sowden, office of  
Lucy Wicks MP