A group of Shoalhaven residents have been holding a weekly vigil in Nowra for more than four years, drawing attention to the plight of people who fled the horror of wars and came to Australia seeking safety.
The Stop the Shame group meets in Jelly Bean Park in the Nowra CBD each Friday from 10am to midday.
The group will start its 2021 efforts this Friday, January 15,
Australia is a signatory of the United Nations Charter for refugees and asylum seekers and it is their legal right to seek protection and safety.
For many years the group says this was handled "slowly but wisely by the Australian Government" and genuine refugees were eventually able to settle and become part of our community.
However, from when the merchant ship Tampa picked up some people whose boats had sunk off Australia, the group says the government ceased to meet this obligation and many refugees were placed in remote detention centres and offshore detention on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru in breach of Australia's international obligations, while countries such as Canada and New Zealand, plus other western countries have accepted such refugees.
Despite numerous strong voices and legal opinions the Australian Government has spent and continues to spend billions of tax dollars building offshore detention facilities and refitting onshore detention centres to hold people whose status as a genuine refugee has been proved.
The Shoalhaven Stop the Shame group says many of these asylum seekers have been incarcerated now for more than seven years.
The Stop the Shame group continues to draw attention to this sorry story, to inform local people and raise awareness of the "cruelty perpetuated on hapless human beings in our name".
Plus make residents aware of the huge amount of taxes the government continues to spend which is growing - recent figures have finally revealed that over $12 billion has been spent to keep these legal refugees in detention, at a cost of approximately $344,660 per person a year.
Everyone is welcome to come and join the Stop the Shame group, to talk with members and discover what is happening and consider what you could do.