Australia shows its heart and support for refugees
CANBERRA, Australia (UNHCR) - A field of hearts, each containing a personal message in support of refugees, was planted in front of Parliament House in Canberra on World Refugee Day on June 20.
The "Field of Hearts" installation was planted in 20 locations across Australia, symbolically promoting an open-hearted approach to refugees. More than 20,000 beautifully crafted hearts were featured as part of a nationwide demonstration. The hearts were decorated by community groups, schools, church groups and individuals in the run up to World Refugee Day.
Canberra hosted the largest installation with more than 11,000 hearts planted in the grounds of Parliament House. The multi-coloured hearts bore slogans and images which showed Australian support for refugees and asylum seekers locally and internationally.
The organisers of the project, the Refugee Action Committee, said the installation offered ordinary Australians a chance to "show their hearts for refugees" as an expression of their support for the plight of refugees in a world of war, poverty, tyranny and hunger.
Parliamentarians also joined the spirit of World Refugee Day, with the Australian Senate passing a resolution on June 17 commending UNHCR "for the tireless work it undertakes worldwide". The resolution also acknowledged the refugee agency's work to promote awareness for refugees, through activities such as the Australian High-School Writing Competition.
The "Field of Hearts" was accompanied by rallies in most Australian capitals including well-attended marches through the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Hundreds of Australians were "detained" in cages in more than 50 mock detention centres set up by Amnesty International in opposition to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers.
Other events such as film screenings, community forums, cultural festivals, sporting events, food fairs, musical and dramatic performances, were held throughout rural and metropolitan Australia.
Notably, these included events organised by advocacy groups such as Actors for Refugees, who hosted various events performed by well-known film and television personalities. The Australian Chamber Orchestra also dedicated their performance at the Sydney Opera House to the spirit and courage of refugees around the world.