Asylum fundraiser: young performers enthral Parkville’s St Carthage’s
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Asylum fundraiser: young performers enthral Parkville’s St Carthage’s

Friday 1 December 2017

Media and Communications Office 
On 30 November, some of Melbourne’s finest young musicians came together in a heart-warming display of solidarity to support the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

The concert, simply titled Asylum, was held at St Carthage’s University Parish in Parkville and saw every dollar generated through ticket sales donated to the ASRC.
The evening’s audience witnessed over 90 minutes of performances from alumni and current students of the Melbourne Conservatory. Supported by engaging MC, Megan Steller, Asylum included performances from a solo guitarist, a string quartet, a brass quintet, a woodwind trio and an engrossing presentation from ASRC’s Rebecca Reale.

Performer and event organiser, Stuart McKee, said although Asylum had been planned for some time, recent events in Manus Island had provided a timely reminder of the need to support the ASRC.

‘The concert came about from my staunch support of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and their fantastic work around supporting refugees and the asylum seeker community,’ explained Stuart.

‘More recently, the terrible and inhumane cruelty we’re seeing towards asylum seekers kept on Manus Island, has been an immediate motivation for holding the concert.’

Stuart also stressed the importance of music and its capacity to unite people behind a cause.

‘I’ve always felt that music brings the community together,’ he said. ‘When there are such important, integral issues that we as a society face, to do it over something as joyous and as beautiful as music really brings home to people what we’re trying to achieve.’

‘We all seek some sort of asylum, some sort of home and some sort of refuge in one another. What better way to do that than bring everyone together and play music together, I couldn’t imagine a better way of doing it,’ he added.
Before Asylum’s final performance took to the stage, ASRC’s Rebecca Reale spoke of the importance of recognising the plight of asylum seekers already in Australia who face a lengthy and complicated application process in their search for safety and security.

‘There are 24,500 people currently going through a process designed to diminish their chances of gaining refugee status,’ said Rebecca.

She explained that in 2015, the government introduced legislation for asylum seekers to access Temporary Protection Visas which had caused significant concern.

‘This left people in anguishing limbo having to reapply every three to five years as well as there being no future chance of family reunion,’ explained Rebecca. ‘Many people were given a 60-day deadline to submit an application. At the start of the year, the remaining 12,000 people who were waiting in anguish, were given 60, 30 and even 14-day deadlines to submit applications.’

Rebecca said tight deadlines and complex applications that often require legal assistance and translators to interpret make the process considerably challenging. She thanked the audience for their support and reminded them that ‘silence is complicity’.

‘Not standing up and demanding change allows politicians to keep upholding this punitive approach. It is the responsibility of all Australians to do something as it is in our name,’ she added.
Melbourne’s temperature peaked at 34° on Thursday but the calming sounds of Asylum provided a refreshing experience for the concert’s attendees.
Stuart, who played trombone in the first and last performances of Asylum as well as curating and managing the event, said the evening’s varied and generous participants had made the event possible.

‘We have been supported by a lot of volunteers that are graciously giving up their time and the performers, the MC and graphic designers are all involved free of charge. The parish priest, Fr Michael Elligate, has been fantastic in facilitating the event too,’ he said.