The Safe Harbour Project was launched on Monday 10 December at the Mary McKillop Plaza adjacent St Francis Xavier Cathedral. Coinciding with International Human Rights Day.
About 100 members of the public contributed to this first installation, each decorating a boat to symbolise their chosen message. The motif of a boat was chosen as a symbol of despair, hope and optimism. In the words of Rev Sandy Boyce who blessed the boats:
“Today we reclaim the boat as a symbol of safety for those fleeing danger. This boat need no longer be a political tool to stoke fear of those who take desperate measures to travel treacherous seas to reach our border.
This boat is a symbol of community, of people who find unity and purpose in their longing for freedom and safety;
This boat need no longer be a political tool to stoke fear of people who simply dare to imagine a safe harbour.
This boat reminds us of the people who have crammed into boats, placing themselves in the care of strangers and risking danger.
This boat need no longer be a political tool that stokes fear of people who bring different cultures, languages, traditions to this land; they enrich the fabric of our society in wonderfully diverse ways.”
This was the first public display of the boats. A series of interactive,” pop-up” installations, featuring a much larger boat, as well as an increasing number of the small ones, will appear in and around the city from early January. The aim of the project is to change the conversation around refugees and people seeking asylum, and to put an end to off-shore detention. You can follow the Safe Harbor Project on Facebook: Safe Harbour Australia and Twitter @aus_safe. If you would like to be involved email Mij Tanith or phone on 0405 086 533.