Singing of a 'Kind Christmas' for refugees in the CBD

Christmas carols with lyrics about asylum seekers to be held Friday outside St Paul's Cathedral

Melbourne refugee and asylum seeker rights groups rally on Saturday 27 July 2013 to protest the then Rudd Labor Government's new proposal for assessment and resettlement of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea. (Creative Commons 2.0)

PHOTO: John Englart/Flikr

By Stephen Cauchi

December 19 2019Christmas carols with rewritten lyrics about asylum seekers in detention will be hosted in Melbourne’s CBD this Friday afternoon by Christian movement Love Makes A Way.

Melburnians have been invited to join in and all carollers will be “decked out in red, singing carols and Christmas songs with a difference”, according to a statement from Love Makes A Way.

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “White Christmas”, “Joy to the World”, and “Little Drummer Boy” are among the carols that will be sung with rewritten lyrics.

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, for example, reads: “Oh come all ye faithful/Joyful and warm-hearted/Oh come ye, on come ye to welcome all/come and replace prejudice and hate/And be free.

“White Christmas”, meanwhile, will be “Kind Christmas”.

“We thought it was a good way to engage people in a slightly different way,” said a spokesperson for Love Makes A Way, Abi Benham-Bannon.

“We like to stand in solidarity with all people who have [been in detention] and show that through song.”

The “Carols for Compassion” will start outside St Paul’s Cathedral at 4.30pm before moving across the road to Flinders Street Station.

Ms Benham-Bannon said the original idea was to include other locations as well, but this had to be changed given the expected 43 degree temperatures.

The carols will go for about an hour, she said.

Love Makes A Way is an ecumenical Christian movement that calls for welcoming policies for people seeking asylum.

“This season marks the seventh Christmas in arbitrary detention for many who have been held in offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru,” said the statement.

Two asylum seekers held in Australia, meanwhile, had spent 10 Christmases in detention. “Love Makes A Way is aware of at least two men at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in this awful situation,” said the statement.

“These people continue to exist in limbo with no idea of their future, and (with) basic needs such as healthcare often remaining unmet.”

“What’s more, since 2013, there have been 32 known asylum seeker deaths … including 23 by known or suspected suicide.”