Students sleep rough, spending 24 hours in ‘The Cage’ to raise awareness and funds for people seeking asylum

students involved in the cage fundraiser for asylum seekers and refugees

Students spending 24 hours in ‘The Cage’ not only generated awareness but funds for JRS Australia, raising an amazing $3697

Thirty-three students from St.Ignatius College Adelaide slept rough behind metal barricades in their playground, replicating conditions experienced by people seeking asylum in Australia.

Raising awareness and funds

The Year 12 students spent 24 hours in ‘The Cage’ from lunchtime on Thursday June 21st to lunchtime Friday 22nd to raise awareness around issues faced by people seeking asylum and refugees in Australia.

Students spending 24 hours in ‘The Cage’ not only generated awareness but funds for JRS Australia, raising an amazing $3697 which we will use toward providing on the ground support for people seeking asylum such as case work support, emergency relief payments and accommodation, access to legal services and much more.

Why it was important

Before beginning ‘The Cage’ awareness campaign, the young people involved had the chance to meet a refugee couple and hear first-hand the reasons behind why people are forced to flee their homes. They were told of this couple’s personal plight, how they came to Australia and their experiences at having been denied asylum for years.

The event was especially poignant in light of the cuts recently made by the government to SRSS support for people seeking asylum. At JRS, we estimate these cuts could force hundreds, if not thousands more children, single mothers, and people who have severe mental or physical illnesses into living on the streets in situations of hunger, making them vulnerable to the elements.

Add to that those still locked up in detention centres and it’s clear how meaningful this kind of student action and engagement with the plight of people seeking asylum truly was.

Voices of the future

It’s heartening to see that the next generation of leaders are so engaged in social justice issues, especially at a time when, more than ever, all our voices are needed to tell people seeking asylum, and indeed, the Australian government that we stand by them and defend their rights to safe and dignified living.

Students were asked to write a personal reflection about their experience. Here’s what they had to say:

‘The Cage has been a good experience because I appreciate more the struggles of those in situations similar to this. I’m hungry and tired, but am fortunate to be going home to a big meal and a warm bed.’

‘I have learned a lot about myself and the people around me. I have a greater appreciation for those who are Refugees, and those who sleep rough. It was eye-opening to meet an Asylum Seeker who had his Visa denied.’

‘I have learned more about myself and my physical limits and through this gained a first-hand experience of some of the things refugees face day to day. Considering it has been difficult for me just this one night it is hard to imagine the difficulty that Refugees have to go through and the amount of physical and emotional strength they require to keep pushing on.’

With families and individuals who’ve escaped the unimaginable horrors of war, forced into homelessness and destitution in the country that promised to keep them safe, community actions like ‘The Cage’ become increasingly important to demonstrate to the Australian government that we stand with refugees.

JRS would like to extend a huge thank you to the thirty-three students involved in ‘The Cage’, to their teachers, parents and the entire St.Ignatius College Adelaide community.

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