Christian priests and nuns have been removed from the electoral office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott after attempting to stage a peaceful protest. Another group is holding a similar protest at the office of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
NSW Police have confirmed that a group of eight Christians were evicted from the office after staging a sit-in prayer vigil in the office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Police say they were removed to prevent a breach of peace, but no charges have been laid.
The groups staging the prayer vigils are demanding the release of asylum seeker children from detention.
The participants include Catholic priests, a nun, Baptist pastors, an Anglican Priest, Uniting Church ministers and a number of lay church leaders.
They brought with them drawings made by children in asylum seeker detention centres.
Mr Whelan says the people participating in the Melbourne sit-in are committed to staying put until they get a commitment from Mr Shorten to release the children in detention.
"A time comes when people need to say enough is enough and we are tired of being ignored and we are not going to be ignored any longer,” he told SBS.
The groups' spokesperson Justin Whelan talks about the sit-ins
"Both groups of people are engaged in the sit-in prayer vigil in order to dramatise that injustice and to confront both political leaders with the reality of institutionalised cruelty and ask them to take action to release those children.”
The groups say they are participating in an act of civil disobedience because they have exhausted all other channels for calls to action.
“Australian churches have been speaking with one voice in increasingly outspoken terms for many years in both this government and the previous Labor governments about their deep, grave concern for the plight of asylum seekers especially the 1,023 children currently in detention,” Mr Whelan said.
The sit-ins were inspired by similar peaceful protests that took place at the office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison in March.
Mr Whelan hopes that the sit-ins will change the minds of the politicians they are confronting.
“We hope that this action will touch the conscience of both Mr Abbott and Mr Shorten,” he said. “We believe they’re both at heart compassionate people who want the best for their own children, their own families and for others.”
The Christian movement speaking out against asylum seeker children in detention - calling itself "Love Makes a Way" - has prompted responses from supporters on social media.
It’s a response to the Australian government’s "No Way: You will not make Australia home" campaign to stop asylum seekers from arriving by boat.
“We have been really moved be the responses we are getting on social media by people who feel that their voices are not being heard – the voice of compassion, the voice of respect, respecting the dignity of other people simply for being human beings,” says Whelan.
Mr Shorten’s office says the vigil taking place on site is peaceful and not disruptive but no further comment was given.
SBS is still awaiting comment from the office of the Prime Minister.