Hundreds gather for candlelight vigil at Bondi Beach to pay tribute to victims of shopping centre attack

Hundreds of people attended a candlelit vigil at Bondi Beach on Sunday evening to remember the victims of Australia’s worst mass killings in years with speeches, music, and a minute’s silence.

Six people were killed and many more injured when Joel Cauchi carried out his murderous rampage on 13 April. At least 12 others – including nine women – were taken to hospital after suffering stab wounds in the attack, and six of them remain in hospital. Police officer Amy Scott shot Cauchi dead at the scene.

Five of the six killed were women – Ash Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, and Yixuan Cheng, 27. Faraz Tahir, a 30-year-old refugee who fled persecution in his native Pakistan, was also killed.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese and opposition leader Peter Dutton, governor Margaret Beazley and premier Chris Minns were among those who lit candles.

The speakers gave their condolences to the families of the slain, wished the injured a speedy recovery, and paid tribute to the first responders.

Related: Bondi Junction mass stabbing attack: who are the six victims?

Albanese said the crowd gathered “to grieve for what has been stolen from us”.

“All the possibility and potential. All the kindness and humanity,” he said.

“All the love and laughter of the six lives snatched away on that hardest of Saturday afternoons.”

He said the vigil was to honour the victims and to “mourn for all the years of joy they should have known”.

“All the memories they should have had the chance to make. The new life they would have lived here in their new country, the success they would have achieved in whatever career they embraced. The happiness they would have created, the care they would have shown. The beautiful children they would have raised with such love,” he said.

“To the families and friends who are here with us and to all who are with us in spirit – please know this – that every Australian is thinking of you. We are with you as a community, as a country – today, tomorrow and always.”

Minns said grief could be a “terrible burden”.

“But it does not have to be a lonely one,” he said.

“And there are millions of Australians who feel great sadness for your loss tonight and they are in your corner in the days and weeks ahead.”

Police are investigating whether Cauchi specifically targeted women. Minns said every woman deserved to feel safe.

“This is your state and your city, this is your home. You have every right to live your life as you choose, free from fear of violence,” he said.

“We will not be a state where a woman is forced to change her behaviour because of the feelings of anger of other people.”

Waverley mayor Paula Masselos said they met “in the shadow of tragedy, our hearts heavy with grief and our souls are burdened by sorrow”.

Related: Joel Cauchi: who was the Queensland man who carried out the Bondi Junction mass stabbing?

“Please, continue to hold your loved ones tight and raise each other up through understanding and acts of kindness,” she said.

Just hours before the vigil took place, NSW health minister Daryl Tan has confirmed the nine-month-old baby injured in the Bondi Junction stabbing attack has been discharged from hospital.

“In a positive development, I can confirm the child who has been receiving care at Sydney Children’s hospital following last weekend’s tragic events at Bondi Junction has been discharged home,” Tan said.

“She continues to receive care from the expert clinicians at [the hospital].”

Mother Ash Good died trying to save her baby during the attack. Tan urged the media and community to respect the family’s right to privacy.

Counsellors and mental health first aid were available on site at the vigil. A temporary floral tribute remains in place at Oxford St Mall in Bondi Junction.

A formal memorial service will occur at a later date while plans are in place for a permanent memorial to honour the victims.

A major coronial inquiry is also under way with a heavy focus on the adequacy of NSW’s mental health funding and support.

Bolstered by up to $18m in extra funding, the inquiry will look at the police response and Cauchi’s interactions with NSW and Queensland agencies.