• Wiradjuri Elder and poet, Riverbank Frank. (NITV News/Rachael Hocking)Source: NITV News/Rachael Hocking
Not all demonstrations on January 26 have centred on Indigenous rights. A small group of protestors gathered outside Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney’s west this morning, to call for an end to mandatory detention.
By
Rachael Hocking

Source:
NITV News
26 Jan 2017 - 7:25 PM  UPDATED 26 Jan 2017 - 7:25 PM

The peaceful gathering was organised by Wiradjuri Elder and poet, Riverbank Frank.

He said his message is simple: on January 26 we should be speaking up for the voiceless.

“I really would like to get a message to my brothers and sisters out there in Indigenous Australia, you know, it's not wrong to look outside of ourselves,” he said.

“I am fully aware of our situation, I live on the Riverbank, and I work in community at the grassroots level. I know about the issues that are facing us.

“And I tell you now: the issues which face us at the moment are nothing compared to the people on Nauru.”

He calls mandatory detention ‘a violation of human rights,’ and compared the struggle of asylum seeking refugees to his own as a First Nations man.

“My father was Stolen Generation; they stole him as a child. They lock up children now. So you know, you wonder how far we've come, both situations are not unalike at all,” he said.

Commenting on the significance of the date Riverbank chose for the protest, Helen Esmond from the Grandmothers for Children out of Detention, said she was very ‘moved.’

“I just think for people who've been persecuted, who've had such a terrible history at the hands of white Australians, to have compassion in their heart to think about the suffering of refugees is just fantastic,” she said.

Refugee support for Invasion Day Protests

Meanwhile, refugees and advocates could be found at rallies across the country.

Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, or RISE, joined the tens of thousands of people marching in the Invasion Day protest in Melbourne.

RISE Director, Tania Cañas, said refugees fight the same fight as First Nations people.

“Colonisation is not an event, and it’s ongoing, and it’s actually the same oppression and system that informs border imperialism,”

“[The same system] informs Nauru, and it informs Don Dale. And that’s why we’re here today.”

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