Cage used to show asylum seeker conditions

LOCKED UP: Matilda Henley-Johnstone spends time behind bars. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

LOCKED UP: Matilda Henley-Johnstone spends time behind bars. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

PROTESTERS have spent time behind bars to highlight the plight of asylum seekers.

About 30 people gathered at the Civic Gardens near the Bendigo Library on Saturday.

Matilda Henley-Johnstone, who spent about an hour inside the small "cage", said she was concerned by the treatment of those seeking refuge.

“We’re doing the cage protest to make the public more aware,” she said.  

“We believe that awareness and education are key to overcoming this issue in our country.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand the circumstances that a lot of refugees and asylum seekers live in, particularly in places like Manus Island and Christmas Island

“I’m concerned mostly by the inhumane treatment.”

Ms Henley-Johnstone said she understood it was not viable for “everyone who comes to Australia to live here as soon as they get here.”

“I understand there needs to be a process,” she said.

“But they way the government goes about it, the way they treat them, is just appalling.

“It’s unacceptable.”

The event was organised by the Refugee Action Bendigo group.

Member Marie Bonne said the aim was to create awareness and discussion around the topic. 

“We didn’t want lots of people coming and shouting,” she said.

“We wanted to be able to have something that would attract attention and draw people in.

“There were people floating around with information and petitions, trying to have conversations.

“That’s what our aim was.”

Ms Bonne said there was a lack of justice for asylum seekers.

“The other thing is the amount of money we’re spending on the offshore detention system," she said. 

“It’s far cheaper for people to be on a bridging visa in community.”

The number of children in detention was also a concern, Ms Bonne said. 

LOCKED UP: Matilda Henley-Johnstone spends time behind bars. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

LOCKED UP: Matilda Henley-Johnstone spends time behind bars. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

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