Darwin protest welcomes refugees, slams Nauru plan

Detainees inside the Darwin Airport Lodge refugee detention centre. Photo: Lisa Visentin

About a dozen refugee supporters gathered at the fence of the Darwin Airport Lodge on September 8. The protest, organised by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN), was organised in response to some refugees in the detention centre — including children — recently being told they will soon be sent to Nauru for processing.

The federal Labor government locks up asylum-seeking women, families and unaccompanied children in the Darwin Airport Lodge.

Protesters were there to show their opposition to Labor's new policy, which one speaker described as "a return to the dark days of John Howard". Protesters vowed not to forget the asylum seekers who end up on Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Anja Behlmer, who was involved in the campaign against Howard's brutal policies a decade ago, said: “It's really sad we have to be out here, still, doing this again." She emphasised the importance of a new, strong campaign to end Labor's policy.

After the speeches, the crowd gathered at the detention centre fence and passed messages of support to those locked on the other side. Refugees told supporters and the media that they did not want to go to Nauru. "Australia is a much better place for refugees," one young man said.