Refugee vigil

Dawn Barrington and Vivian Encel participating in the weekly vigil. Photo by Astrid Dainton.

FREMANTLE refugee activist Dawn Barrington was cheering this week after a Morrison government bill allowing the confiscation of detainees’ mobile phones failed to get the numbers, but it won’t be enough to bring an end to her unique vigils.

The musician started her one-woman protest in Denmark three years ago, vowing to turn up once every week until Australia ended its regime of mandatory detention.

In August she moved to Fremantle, where she has continued near Fremantle Markets every Friday from 4pm – and she reckons she’s getting a reat response from locals.


“I’ve had so many people interested in joining me,” Ms Barrington said.

“For me it’s just about raising awareness, spreading the word about what’s really going on for people offshore and onshore. 

 “We will not stop until there is justice. There is a voice for the refugees, they will not be silenced. 

“Justice for these refugees [means] they get freedom to be in the community, that they get visas and they get the support they need to heal and to live their lives. Australia owes them that,” she says. 

Ms Barrington has visited detention camps and is in contact with the refugees detained in hotels in Melbourne. She said they are terrified of a Covid-19 outbreak because guards are not practising social distancing. 

“I’ve had guys say to me that they would rather be dead now than living there. One guy said ‘each day’s a different name but it’s the same. Nothing’s changed’. It’s horrible,” she said. 

Local Kris Holman is a regular attendee at the vigil and said she attends to try and make a difference. 

“I feel quite helpless and hopeless about the refugee situation in this country. It gives me some way to do something at least,” Ms Holman said. 

Vigil attendee Vivian Encel said she was “very concerned” about indefinite detention. 

“I think it’s a stain on our country. I feel that we are all personally responsible and we need to speak up,” Ms Encel said. 


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