The Walk to Canberra – Walk for Aussie Pride

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On 28th December 2016 Adam Richards and his son Ned aged 13 years began walking from Adelaide all the way to Canberra.

The walk is conceived as a little person’s protest against offshore mandatory detention –  as a way of giving voice to those Australians who, like us, are disgusted about what’s going on offshore and shamed by the way our politicians from all parties are dealing with it. That people are setting themselves alight in those camps is almost beyond belief. That women are raped, that children are attempting suicide, men are being beaten, and people, including the kids are self harming – this is why we must walk to Canberra. The conditions in those camps are literally torturous. This has been stated repeatedly at an international level and we cannot allow it to continue. We are Australian – and Aussies don’t do or tolerate those things. Period. Maybe our politicians will –but we won’t and nor will we silently put up with it. We will not stand for offshore detention, so we are walking to end it.

The plan is to walk from Adelaide to Canberra and finish with a rally on 4 February which will involve a boat regatta and the presentation of a petition to Parliament to process the asylum seekers held on Manus and Nauru onshore in Australia, quickly and humanely.

You can join in the Walk to Canberra by doing your own walk at home and posting your kilometres on our facebook page. If you include a photo of yourself at the end of your distance we will keep a running tally and include the details and photos as part of our rally in Canberra on February 4. This will enable Canberra to see that there is literally a whole nation of people who are behind this, along with our team on the ground. You can also sponsor or donate towards the walk, and of course, sign the petition either online or in hard copy.

More details are below.

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LIES, DAMN LIES AND POLITICIANS

Before 1992 we Australians were world leaders in the treatment and processing of refugees – it was a time when we showed the world how it could be done, when we did the “righty” and when we could hold our head high on the international stage. Funnily, the world as we knew it didn’t end – in fact we hardly noticed, our borders were not in imminent danger of collapse and the refugees arriving were assimilated to our overwhelming social, economic and cultural benefit. We were the worlds multi-cultural success story. In 1992 Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention and the slide into the cesspit of the current immigration detention regime began. At that time the policy was geared to slowing refugee intake that had  ironically been at its highest under Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal government. How low the Liberals have sunk since then!

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Things were taken to new depths by John Howard at the time of the Tampa crisis and 9/11. This was just before the 2001 election in which polls predicted Howard was going to lose comprehensively – he discovered then that the politics of fear and demonising target groups gets votes and wins elections. Arguably he learned that from Pauline Hanson ( remember her in 1996 – “We are in danger of being swamped by Asians…and now in 2016 “we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims”) – but the modern roots of that political approach go back to Adolf Hitler and the Jews he used for his horrid schemes. There was a time when being Australian stood for something in terms of fair treatment for all. There was a time that being “Aussie” meant something that was special. Back in the day, we had an immediate sense of pride in being identified as an Aussie. We were the cool guys on the international stage. Now we have arguably the world’s harshest refugee regime and are looked upon increasingly as a racist nation – like the old apartheid South Africa. My beautiful country! What in hell are they doing to others in our name!

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Now all major parties – with the exception of the Australian Greens – have cashed in their souls for the votes that cruelty to refugees buys them. While doing this, they sell us the lie that somehow it’s necessary for our national protection and our security – as if a few thousand helpless refugees could compromise our national security. Ludicrous. Even relatively progressive politicians like Nick Xenophon are in on the act. And why? –  Because it gets votes. Now we have politicians competing to see who can be cruellest to refugees. Remember  Rudd vs Abbott in September 2013 ? Well their “stopping boats” is double speak for “getting votes”, the votes of the small minority of Australians that the major parties believe they need to swing in their efforts to cling onto and grasp at power. Our Pollys have thus been hijacked by the extreme right and in the process they have lost their moral bearings. Their resulting power comes at too high a price to us all. They have lost their way and we intend to help them find it again.

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We are walking to Canberra to reclaim our sense of pride in being an Australian.

If need be we will walk alone – but if our politicians want to abuse men, women and God help them – even children – in these offshore prison camps then it is done neither in our name nor with our consent.                     

THE PLAN

The plan is to travel the 1165 km between Parliament House Adelaide and Parliament House Canberra to arrive by early February (Sat 4th) in time for the opening of the 2017 Parliament. The intention is to raise awareness on refugee issues and particularly the plight of those children, women and men in the offshore prison camps.

EVENTS

The Petition – As we walk to Canberra, we will be gathering a petition along the way to hand to the new parliament in 2017. We hope people can collect petitions separately and either meet us in Canberra or get them to us by mail/Email, or sign the online petition. Every Signature counts.

FORMS – one can print petition forms off under the “Our Campaign” menu. We would be grateful for people to collect signatures. Each form carries 20 signatures. If you’re coming to Canberra to take part in the Regatta or if you’re going to join us on the way we would be very grateful for your contribution.

The “Regatta of Hope” Facebook Campaign

Our Aussie Heart Facebook Page hosts a pinned post at the top which sets out steps for everyone to be able to join in across the country in “walking to Canberra” by contributing and logging kilometres and keeping a photographic record of your walk if you are able to add one! This information will be included in the rally. The challenge is for everyone else to walk the equivalent distance to Canberra, and then on to the distance to Manus and Nauru, by the time our team on the road reaches Canberra.

Once you’ve done a walk and checked in with us about it via a facebook comment and photo upload, nominate someone else on facebook to do the same, so that we can send this thing viral, and send an even louder message to Canberra. Click on the link on the top right of this page, “Join the Walk to Canberra” for more.

The inaugural Canberra Refugee Regatta – when we get to Canberra, on Sat 4th Feb at 1pm we intend to walk the last one to 2 kilometres with a home-made milk carton “boat”. Naturally we will be stopping shortly before 1pm in order to 1st build our home-made milk carton boat.

Given that Adam is a lawyer not a tradesman this process should provide some short comic relief.

We are inspired by the Northern Territory’s famous milk carton regatta. Our politicians seem pathologically averse to boats – why should refugees who can fly in and then seek asylum be treated any differently? – why are our Pollys so scared of  boats? Whatever is so damn special about planes?

We figure that since a mere few refugees in boats can seemingly put the whole nation in such inordinate peril that they, their wives and their children need to be locked away for years – then the chances are that the mere sight of the two of us – Ned and I, along with our “boat” will in all likelihood scare the daylights out of them.

We’ll be pleased if others would care to join us. At the moment we’re thinking of meeting up at 1 PM on Saturday the fourth. Further details of the exact route will be posted in due course but Adelaide Avenue (gathering first at /near mint oval )seems to be the current preferred option – this will need to be reviewed with ACT police – stay posted!

We would love other people to make up their own boats and join in with us but if it’s just the two of us making fools of ourselves then so be it – in Ned’s case, given his tender years at least he won’t look so foolish but it is not unreasonably suspected that Adam will definitely look like a complete turkey.

We would also be very pleased also if people want to bring their dinghys, rubber duckies, rowboats or pleasure cruisers (with trailers- otherwise too damn heavy to carry) just in case any real sailing needs to get done on the day. Cardboard, milk cc

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Please be there! We want you in – boats and all.

THE REFUGEE Embassy – Once our “boat” arrives at Parliament House we plan to set up an embassy there on behalf of the men, women and children who can’t do so in person – (Ned is looking forward to representing the children) – we intend to then await the opening of parliament and to then to deliver our petition. Since we’ll both be travelling with a swag it is unlikely to be particularly ostentatious but a distinct Aussie flavour will be imparted to our erstwhile diplomatic residence.

We would be pleased to share our embassy with other like-minded souls. For those with a construction minded bent – We doubt we’ll be able to get permission for any permanent structure, however those carrying a smile – and a musical instrument or two – would not go astray.

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Fundraising –

Either, sponsor us or get your own sponsors and join us! We are looking both for sponsors or to be joined on the walk – even for a day – by people who can get sponsors per kilometre walked and donate proceeds to the cause.

If not just come along! We aim to do from 20-40km per day and the calendar on our events page shows where we’ll be from day to day.

Monies raised will be used for expenses on the walk and every dollar beyond that will go to charity – the “Gifts for Manus” program listed below.

SPONSORS .If interested you can sponsor either Ned or Adam or both at eg 10c per km – equals $116.40 for the 1164 km walk. If not whatever you can afford would be sensational and again monies raised will go to charity once expenses are covered.

If you would be willing to sponsor us simply drop us an email with your pledge, your contact details and the amount you would like to sponsor. No amount – even one cent per kilometre is too small. Other than that, you can use our GoFundMe account.

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There is a “GO FUND ME” widget on the home page of this website where direct donations toward the walk for Aussie pride can be made. Monies there raised will go towards paying for food,petrol for support vehicles, shoes, camping gear and the like. We’ve set in an initial target of $5000 but we suspect our cost will be much higher than that. Nonetheless any contribution would be gratefully received.

OUR CHARITY

Our intended charity will be the group “Gifts for Manus”. The amazing work of the incredible Ali Murdoch, Chrissie Eilenberg and team is our preferred place to support

We hope others will join in collecting petition signatures, or even better – bring a “boat” along to Canberra for the regatta. Although we plan building a milk carton boat – real boats are welcome too!

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As for the walk for Aussie pride, we’d love your proud company along the way!

If you can help with any of this we’d love to hear from you!

 

MEMBERSHIP  – Along with raising awareness we are hoping to increase membership and we welcome membership enquiries – how about joining up?

Also we would be pleased to discuss with anyone the possibility of their standing for the next election as a candidate in their home state.

        We need two persons per state to run and our dream is to raise enough money to fund candidates running Australia wide in 2019.