DOZENS of members of south-west churches are preparing to step up their political activism to hasten the release of asylum seeker children from detention in Australia and Nauru.
The church members will take part in a training workshop at the Warrnambool Uniting Church on May 30 that could lead to a sit-in at the Warrnambool office of federal member for Wannon, Dan Tehan.
The training workshop in “non-violent direct action” is being convened by the national faith-based Love Makes A Way (LMAW) movement. LMAW has organised several sit-ins at the offices of federal MPs throughout Australia, at which religious leaders have been arrested.
Reverend Cameron McAdam, formerly of the Camperdown Uniting Church, was yesterday involved in a LMAW sit-in at the electorate office of federal environment minister Greg Hunt.
A flyer for the Warrnambool workshop says it will train people in “Christian non-violence in the tradition of Jesus, Archbishop Tutu and Martin Luther King”.
A spokesman for the workshop, Camperdown Uniting Church member Joel Rothman, said 36 south-west people attended an information evening in Warrnambool last month about the LMAW movement.
Yesterday Mr Rothman, Warrnambool Presbyterian minister Reverend Ben Johnson and Stephen Landreth, from the Warrnambool Baptist Church, met with Mr Tehan and presented him with a 320-signature petition calling for the release of all asylum seeker children from detention.
Mr Rothman said yesterday’s meeting with Mr Tehan had given the group no hope that present government policies would speed up the removal of asylum seeker children from detention.
He said many of the more than 200 children in detention in Australia and Nauru had been incarcerated for more than 400 days.
Mr Tehan said the federal government was “doing everything it can to remove children from detention”.
But it faced problems finding countries to which it could resettle the 103 children on Nauru.
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