With mixed messages coming from Scott Morrison and the government on children in detention, the work of Love Makes a Way is just beginning…
Last week saw confusing developments in Australian asylum seeker policy. Most recently, Scott Morrison dropped hints that the Liberals may yet move away from offshore processing. Meanwhile, Labor’s Chris Bowen made remarkable admissions about the damaging effects of detention centres on the mental health of children. For now, both major Australian parties stand by offshore processing as a deterrent to boat arrivals, but is there change afoot on the political map?
The 19th of August saw another significant development: the release of 150 children from onshore detention centres was announced. These children, all under 10 years old, will now have access to education and health care in the wider Australian community, while their appeals for protection are processed.
That morning I was sitting and praying with fellow protestors across the road from Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg’s office. We were preparing to cross the street and commence a praying protest in Josh’s office as part of the Love Makes a Way movement. The news was certainly cause for our group of cranky Christians to celebrate: we were overjoyed that these children would be freed. But it was also a source of confusion.
Should we continue to protest when we see such encouraging signs for children in detention? Would our sit-in be meaningless on a day when the nation’s media is covering Morrison’s announcement?
Our prayers and conversations all came to a simple conclusion: now was the perfect time to walk into an office, sit down and say: “we are not going away until ALL the children are released”. We were not there to be noticed by the media, for the “glamour” of arrest or because we were political power-players. We were there because of ours and God’s love for the children in Australia’s care.
So on the 19th of August seven of us were arrested, refusing to leave Frydenberg’s office until we had a timetabled commitment for the release of the remaining 745 children from detention centres. On September 3rd, five more of us sat down to pray in South Australia and 11 more in South Australia on the 9th. The work of this movement is only beginning, and we are prepared to sit down and pray for the long haul. As long as there is a policy of detention and deterrence for those seeking Australia’s care, Love Makes a Way still has work to do.