Sail 4 Justice recognises and asserts the sovereignty of First Nations people. We wish to pay our respects to the First Nations peoples on whose land and seas we travel and sail. We pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging and to the strength of the Indigenous communities in ongoing struggles for self-determination. 


We are asking you all to join or to support the Flotilla for Justice that launched from so-called Melbourne in May and is leaving Australia from Gimuy/Cairns in July 2019. We are taking to the seas and our destination is Manus Island.


All refugees on Manus Island, Nauru and onshore are political prisoners. The Australian government and private corporations are committing gross violations of human rights, so we are sailing to bring the world’s attention to their torture and abuse of refugees. We are sailing in spite of the borders enforced by this government, because we reject their authority. Australia’s border policing and refugee policies are premised on the notion of Australia’s jurisdiction over this land. However, this country was occupied illegally, under the legal fiction of terra nullius – empty land. To this day, Australia has no treaty with the original sovereigns of this land. As uncle Robbie Thorpe says: “Indigenous people never ceded sovereignty over Australia. The Australian government has no legitimate right to grant or refuse entry to this country.” The Freedom Flotilla will be traveling with the Kangaroo skin engraved with an important message from Arabunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott. The engraving, depicting people of all colors gathered around the sacred fire, will be accompanied by ashes from the tent embassy and water from Uncle Kevin’s traditional country surrounding Lake Eyre. These gifts are to be presented by First Nations and West Papuan Flotilla participants upon our arrival to Manus. The ceremony will include the gifting to the men on Manus of Original Nation passports sent by Uncle Kevin as well as a fire, dance and song performed as an act of resistance to overcome the walls of racism and the politics of greed that keep us divided. We will carry with us messages of solidarity as well as practical donations.


On our journey we will visit many communities who continue to struggle for social and environmental justice to stand with them, support their fight and bring attention to their causes. We recognise that the destruction of lands and oceans in the Pacific region is deeply connected to the histories of colonisation in the region. The ongoing land theft and dispossession of Indigenous people severs the human relationships to land and oceans that are based on mutual care and sustainability. Colonialism brings with it the logic of rampant capitalism, growth and profit, enforcing ever new tactics of environmental exploitation. For centuries it has imposed artificial borders that have carved up Indigenous nations and their lands. Globally, the ongoing impacts of colonisation and imperialism create conditions such as war, global wealth disparity and environmental changes that force people to flee their lands. We are faced with climate changes, rising oceans, pollution and loss of diversity, among many issues. There are currently millions of environmental refugees. It is projected that climate change will create the world’s biggest refugee crisis in the next decade.

We aim to highlight issues faced by Original Nations in the areas that we will visit, including Indonesian occupation of West Papua and the ongoing genocide of the West Papuan peoples. In 2013 members aboard the Sail 4 Justice freedom flotilla to West Papua were issued with Original Nations passports stamped by West Papuan political leaders. The West Papua freedom flotilla was an unprecedented event of creative resistance to the Indonesian occupation of West Papua. The initiative of Indigenous Elders of Australia and West Papua built global solidarity and highlighted the abuses of human rights and land rights carried out under the occupations of their countries. Read more here.

We didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us.

Our aims are:


1. We sail to draw attention to the plight of refugees in offshore detention sanctioned by the Australian government.

2. We sail to let the people on Manus know that they are not forgotten and to express our solidarity.

3. We want to pay our respects to the traditional owners of Manus Island caught in the crossfire of Australian politics, as well as to the West Papuan refugees that were the first asylum seekers to be banished to Manus in the 1980’s by the Australian government.

5. We want to move in solidarity with the First Nations peoples of the lands and the seas that we are crossing and to offer our support in the struggle towards decolonisation and Indigenous sovereignty in the region and beyond.

6. We aim to promote care for the land and care for the Ocean. Along our journey we want to inform people via social media and personally about the conditions of the Ocean, fish life, plastic pollution, the Great Barrier Reef, climate change and other maritime issues. We will stand with those fighting for climate justice as we pass through areas affected by environmental issues in the Pacific.

We demand:


An end to all offshore processing and all mandatory and indefinite detention, offshore and onshore #closethecamps

Freedom for aĺl refugees and asylum seekers, including accepting the NZ offer of resettlement unconditionally

Compensation to all survivors of Australia’s border regime for the trauma caused

Decolonisation, compensation and genuine respect for Indigenous sovereignty and the self-determination of all First Nations people in the Pacific region, including so-called Australia

An end to the occupation of West Papua by Indonesia

Action for climate justice and an end to unsustainable and destructive industries, such as fossil fuels