Safe Harbour

Some kinds of activism appeal to me more than others. Safe Harbour, a project which highlights the issues of refugees in Australia, and is pushing for the closure of Nauru and Manus Island refugee detention centres, is one of these for me. It takes the image of a boat, so demonised by politicians in Australia over the past 15 years, and puts it at the centre of what care for refugees is about – providing a safe harbour for those in need. The idea is that people make little boats and paint them. These are then taken and displayed, and yet more are made and painted. This is happening throughout the coming months, before the next federal election, so that the issues pertaining to refugees can be discussed at a low key level, while making something beautiful (or fun, or moving, or poignant). Information is available at the workshops, and further action can be taken. It is an opportunity for people to express their distress at what is happening, their compassion and hope for what could happen, and to talk about what can be done to move things in a more decent and  humane direction.

I say boats are made, but mostly, small balsa wood boats are painted by participants. Some slightly larger boats are being created using recycled core-flute, and one large boat has been made, in a week (!), from plywood and donated materials, as the central image for the project. This larger boat was made to look like a boat that has brought refugees to our shores – rickety and old, but is actually not. It is a marvel. There is a facebook page (Safe Harbour Australia) which will has more details of what is happening over the coming weeks, and here is a link to an interview on Radio Adelaide, with Mij Tanith, the key organiser of the project.

I went to the launch a few weeks ago, alongside St Xavier’s Cathedral, and to a boat decorating workshop at Whitmore Square last weekend (great fun). The boats look fantastic, individually and as a group. Here are some (heaps of!) photos from those events…


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2 Responses to Safe Harbour

  1. romi789 says:

    I loved reading about this project, such an inspiring way to raise the issues of refugees, loved the pictures too.. thanks for telling us about it .

    • Thanks Romi – great to hear from you – it is a fine little project. There was a suggestion from someone that paper boats sent from afar would be a way to link with the project if anyone wanted to contribute but is too far away… if you feel like making one, they would be very welcome!!

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