FIVE years too many. And 12 deaths too many.
That is the increasingly vocal message for Australian politicians
People in communities across Australia came together in recent days to mark the fifth anniversary of the policy that created offshore detention centres on the islands of Manus and Nauru.
The toll of death and suffering endured by asylum seekers and refugees in these Australian Government-controlled detention centres was described at a vigil at Kerang as "a shameful tragedy".
Gannawarra Refugee Support Group member, Jacqueline Hibbert said during a vigil at Kerang on Sunday night that we know that more than 2000 asylum seekers who arrived by boat to seek our protection have been abandoned on offshore islands.
"We know that conditions for the detainees are terrible: mouldy tents, violence at the hands of guards and locals, physical and sexual abuse and inadequate medical facilities," she said.
"We know that more than 40 children are detained on Nauru, with another 100 living precariously outside the detention centre. They are not receiving any education and many of them have significant mental health problems."
Twelve empty chairs were placed in a line across the sanctuary at St John's Anglican Church representing the 12 people who have died while in Australian detention centres.
Footwear lay on the carpet at the base of each chair.
Candles were lit in memory of each of the detention centre victims and placed on chairs as their names were read.
Detainees have either died of neglect, suicide, a drowning and a motor vehicle collision. They are:
• Fariborz Karami [Iran], June 15, 2018.
• Salim Kyawning [stateless Rohingya], May 22, 2018.
• Jahingir [Bangladesh], November 2, 2017.
• Rajeev Rajendran [Sri Lanka], October 2, 2017.
• Hamed Shamshiripour [Iran], August 2, 2017.
• Faysal Ishak Ahmed [Sudan], December 24, 2016.
• Kamil Hussain [Pakistan], August 2, 2016.
• Rakib Khan [Bangladesh], May 11, 2016.
• Omid Masoumali [Iran], April 29, 2016.
• Hamid Kehazzaei [Iran], September 5, 2014.
• Sayed Ibrahim Hussein [Pakistan], June 22, 2014.
• Reza Barati [Iran], February 17, 2014.
Support group member, Glenise O'Connell said that while attendance at the vigil was small, many people supported fighting for the plight of asylum seekers.
Ms Hibbert said that refugee groups were aware that our major political parties were prepared to accept this suffering and these deaths purely for political purposes.
"We know that change will only happen when the Australian people demand an end to this cruel policy which shames us all," she said.
"We are here today because we refuse to look the other way whilst detainees on Manus and Nauru continue to suffer and die.
"We are here to say loudly, 'not in our name'. As Australians, we are better than this."