Memorial Project to Drowned SIEVX Asylum Seekers
16th Oct 2003
A national memorial project to commemorate the 353 asylum seekers who lost their lives when the SIEVX went down in waters between Indonesia and Australia two years ago, was launched today by Senator Bob Brown and project initiator, renowned Australian psychologist and author Steve Biddulph.
The two-year project, a joint initiative of Rural Australians for Refugees and the Uniting Church in Australia, invites school students from around the nation to design a permanent memorial to be built on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, after approval from ACT Authorities.
Called 'A Young People's Art Collaboration', the project is non-competitive and will exhibit designs submitted from schools around the nation in regional and state capitals. The best elements of the works will then be combined into a design, which will be an appropriate, evocatively beautiful and educational site in the national capital.
Steve Biddulph said, 'It's very important that this huge loss of life, including 146 children and their parents, is known about and remembered. A memorial will give back a sense that we care about innocent lives, and that our caring doesn't stop at our own borders. Everyone, regardless of his or her politics, is appalled that this has happened, and determined it must never happen again.'
Reverend Rod Horsfield from the Pilgrim Uniting Church in Launceston, Tasmania added, 'We believe Australian people are at heart compassionate and hospitable. We want to encourage that spirit and nurture it in the coming generation.'
Senator Brown said, 'We hope that the project will raise awareness of the SIEVX tragedy. The memorial will be a permanent reminder of the courage of the families who were on the ship and will help to build compassion for those who seek safety from persecution, in a younger generation of Australians.'