More than 2000 people rallied for permanent protection for refugees outside Parliament House in Canberra on September 6.
Overwhelmingly, the protesters were refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Rohingyas from Myanmar.
They travelled from as far as Perth, Hobart and Brisbane, many with young children. Large contingents came from Sydney and Melbourne.
Speakers recounted being in detention for many years and only being given a temporary protection (TVP) or bridging visa.
A number spoke about the conditions that forced them to flee their homes to find safety.
Others spoke about coping with detention, the injustice of being unable to work or study, their lack of access to Medicare and their pain at not being able to see those they love in their home country.
They regard their treatment in Australia, including their inability to obtain permanent residency, as torture.
Mustafa spoke of a shared pain that unites refugees. This includes the threat of deportation even to countries of extreme danger.
Ehrfan said Australia does not recognise the need for people in Pakistan to have to seek refuge. More than 85% of those who fled Pakistan still do not have a visa.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens Senators Mehreen Faruqi and Nick McKim addressed the rally. They demanded permanent residency for all refugees in Australia, as well as those in Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Wilkie said boat tow-backs must end immediately. Faruqi promised to fight for refugees in parliament and on the streets.
Mark Goudkamp and Ian Rintoul from Refugee Action Coalition also spoke.
All demanded a swift transition to having a permanent residency granted immediately.
While the rally was underway outside parliament, inside, home affairs minister Andrew Giles renewed Labor’s promise to grant permanent residency to TPV holders, but did not give a time frame and no mention was made about those without a visa.
[Luke Weyland is an activist with People Just Like Us.]