Cecilia Egan's son Xavier, 5, holding his home made sign at the Light The Dark vigil in Hyde Park, Sydney Photo: Luke Vodell
Xavier is just two years older than Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body lying on a Turkish beach has become the enduring image of Europe's worsening refugee crisis.
The lives of these two boys are worlds apart. Xavier smiled as he held his home made sign among 10,000-strong crowd in Sydney's Hyde Park on Monday night.
"There's room in my house" could have been the unofficial call-to-action for the 'Light The Dark' rallies held in cities across Australia as demonstrators called on the Australian government to ramp up its support for refugees seeking sanctuary.
Moving display of solidarity: Light The Dark Sydney brought nearly 10,000 people together to call for change on Australia's refugee policy. Photo: Daniel Munoz
The park was ablaze with candlelight as the sombre crowd stood in solidarity with the countless refugees forced to flee their homes and embark on treacherous journeys in search of safety.
Sea of candles: thousands of Sydneysiders were moved by Aylan Kurdi's death. Photo: Sasha Abram
"The image of a Syrian child's lifeless body washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach this week brought the world to its knees. His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was just three years old," read the 'Light the Dark' Sydney Facebook event page.
By the time the first candles were lit in Hyde Park, more than 14,000 people had indicated on facebook that they would be attending vigil.
"The world is facing a global refugee crisis on a scale we've not seen since WWII, but Australia - our lucky country of a fair go for all - is not doing enough. We can do better to help these people.
"We need to do better," it read.
Xavier's mother Cecilia Egan, 30, said she was surprised and heartened that so many people attended the vigil.
Ms Egan from Lane Cove attended the vigil with her partner, and her two young boys, Xavier and his younger brother Wesley, 2.
"We just need to accept more refugees. It's just not good enough," Ms Egan said.
"I feel it was pure luck that I was born in a country that is safe, where my children can grow up safe, fed and educated. I've done nothing to get in that position," she said.
The event was supported by over 50 non-government organisations and community advocacy groups including GetUp!, Amnesty International Australia and the Refugee Council of Australia.
a spokeswoman for Amnesty said the estimated 10,000 person crowd constituted one of the largest rally for refugees the organisation had seen in Australia in years.
Amnesty's government relations manager Steph Cousins urged the Abbott government to immediately take 20,000 Syrian refugees above and beyond the existing refugee quota.
"The scale of this crisis is so enormous that Australia needs to step up and do more. We're calling for an emergency quota this year," Ms Cousins said.
The Light the Dark demonstrations were held simultaneously in a number of cities across Australia, including Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, Perth and Adelaide.
Dr Baharan Majidi, 28, from Iran, practices as a doctor in Sydney. She travelled three hours on the train from the south coast to attend the vigil.
"It is not a crime to seek asylum, that's what I believe from the bottom of my heart. We do not need to judge, we just need to accept people from all around the world," Dr Majidi said.
Her dream is to work for Doctors Without Borders and help refugees around the world. "That's my future plan, that's all I want to do," she said as she fought back tears.
She said the turnout at the vigil was "wonderful".
"Words cannot describe it. It was great."