Wollongong doctor Javed Badyari has personally pledged to sleep outside indefinitely or until indefinite detention of refugees ends.
For the past 11 nights Dr Badyari has been braving the cold and sleeping outside at Wollongong's Crown Street Mall.
Fellow doctors, nurses, allied health practitioners, medical students and community members have joined him in 'The Indefinite Sleepout - To end indefinite detention'.
They are campaigning for fair and humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
Dr Badyari said indefinite detention violates International and Human Rights Laws and significantly harms health.
"Over recent months we've seen a powerful rise in public concern about the welfare of the people held on Nauru and Manus and we hope to stoke this conversation to reach a more humane outcome," he said.
"We plan to sleep out each night and plan to do it indefinitely or as long as required to actuate change.
"This is very ambitious but we are a determined lot and we have great faith in humanity and in Australia that we will come to our senses eventually."
Dr Badyari said 'The Indefinite Sleepout - To end indefinite detention' was a peaceful campaign aimed at dispelling fears and swaying opinions.
"At the moment rather than choosing actions based on love and humanity, we are choosing fear," he said.
"I think there is a lot of protest out there that are centred on demands and have a vibe of aggression, which I guess has its place but I think ultimately we want our actions to speak louder than our words.
"And, we are willing to take this as far as we need to peacefully and non-violently keep sleeping out and hopefully at one point we won't be ignored and at least force the conversation."
A rotating roster sees three participants per night sleep out at Crown St Mall.
"The idea is to keep the flame burning like a relay," he said.
"Last week we ran into 60 kilometre head winds which was very challenging at times.
"There have been some pretty rough nights' sleep but I think it makes us more determined in a way. At the end of the day it is only a fraction of the adversity and endurance that our refugees are facing."
Under the banner of 'Doctors 4 refugees' and the 'Refugee Action Collective Illawarra', Dr Baydari and co are calling for:
- On-shore processing of all asylum seekers
- Detention only for security and health checks and not to exceed 45 days
- Speedy processing of refugee determination
- Bridging visas which include community housing, employment rights, access to Medicare or similar subsidised health care and Centrelink payments to be available to all asylum seekers regardless of mode of arrival
July 2019 marked six years since Kevin Rudd stated that "Any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees. If they are found to be genuine refugees they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea".
Today, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape and the governor of Manus Island, Charlie Benjamin are urging Australia to help resettle refugees and solve the crisis.
There are still 900 asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island (PNG) and Nauru who have inadequate and uncertain healthcare and whose mental health is deteriorating (over 50 cases of self harm since May).
"Australia is being shamed on the international stage for the mistreatment of these vulnerable people who are under our care. We hope to add our voices to the growing movement of people speaking out for a humane alternative," Dr Badyari said.