Police have arrested six protesters who were holding a prayer vigil at Treasurer Joe Hockey’s office to highlight the plight of asylum seekers in detention.
Nine people had gathered in Mr Hockey’s North Sydney office as part of a series of peaceful protests against the government’s asylum seeker policy.
The group entered at 10.30am and say they will not leave until they get a timetabled commitment that all children will be released from immigration detention centres.
A spokesman for the group said six people were arrested shortly after 1pm and released without charge.
Retired nurse Margaret Coffey was among those taking part in the protest, the sixth undertaken by the nationwide Christian movement Love Makes A Way.
The 74-year-old told SBS she had never broke the law previously, but had been willing to risk arrest to highlight the damage she’d witnessed first-hand.
“As a nurse in psychiatric units, I’ve been very troubled by the destructive nature of the incarceration of these people,” she said.
“… The psychological damage to them was really quite shocking and remains so.”
Listen: Margaret Coffey speaks with Stephanie Anderson.
She said she felt very strongly about the issue and was willing to break the law for it.
“I’m totally convinced as a nurse, as a Christian, as a woman and as a human being that these people are human beings,” she said.
“They deserve better care.”
A spokesman for the group said more than 50 people had been arrested as part of the movement so far, with seven protesters due to face court in Adelaide on Wednesday.
Josephite nun Sister Jan Barnett was also at the protest and said she felt she couldn’t leave without a government commitment to release all children from detention.
“All people fleeing persecution have a right to seek asylum,” she said.
“It is legal to do so, and the Australian Government has both a legal and moral duty to care for asylum seekers, especially children.”