SCRAR holds its weekly vigil at the corner of Merrijig Drive and the Surf Coast Highway.

Surf Coast Rural Australians for Refugees turns three

November 7, 2019 BY

NEXT week will mark the third anniversary of a vigil by a local refugee advocacy group.

Surf Coast Rural Australians for Refugees (SCRAR) has been holding a vigil every Thursday afternoon for nearly three years.

The group initially held their vigil on the corner of Darian Road and the Surf Coast Highway, but for the past year have instead been gathering at the corner of Merrijig Drive and Surf Coast Highway.

One of the group’s founders, John Bartlett, said the formation of certain detention centres motivated the group.

“It came around the time Manus Island and Nauru were being set up, particularly when there were children involved. We were part of the campaign to get children off, which was successful in the end.

“But it’s still part of the ongoing campaign to get the rest of people off both Manus and Nauru, even though at Manus Island they’re not in detention centres anymore, but they are stranded in the community.”

Those holding the vigils have generally received positive responses from passing motorists, but have also at times been sworn at.

The members of the public protest are a diverse group who all support improved conditions for refugees asylum seekers.

Mr Bartlett said the group’s resilience over the three years had been very impressive.

“I remember one winter’s day we were there and it was pouring with rain, and then yesterday it was 35 plus degrees. So, people have been very consistent over those three years because it’s an issue they believe in very strongly.

“It’s just a way of keeping our presence out there in the community, so people don’t forget these issues which can so easily be forgotten.”

As they celebrate their third year in existence, SCRAR is hoping to get extra numbers at their vigil on Thursday, November 14.

People can also help the cause through donations, which at the moment are largely used to help the refugee families in Geelong.

The vigil will be held from 5.30-6pm.

SCRAR also meets at 10am on the first Saturday of each month at Sticks and Stones cafe.