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Newsletter for 19 July 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next market stall will be at Valla Beach 6th August.
Popup demonstration: Thursday 28 July Urunga
Supporting refugee charities
National RAR conference
Bellingen Market Report

A big thank you to our ten supporters who turned up at various times to help on our stall at Bellingen market on Saturday. There was a good market crowd, and we had a busy time talking to members of the public, handing out information sheets, inviting people to sign the new petition and selling our asylum seeker merchandise. We collected more than 170 signatures on the petition, signed up a number of new supporters and sold more than $200 of T shirts, bags and tea towels. As usual, lots of people expressed their deep dismay about the cruel  and inhumane asylum policies of the major parties, and urged us to keep up the pressure. We certainly will!
Our next market will be at Valla Beach on Saturday 6th August. Let’s hope that the sun shines!
Our Next Pop-up Demonstration Thursday 28th July 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm. Urunga

Our next demonstration will be at the side of the Pacific Highway in Urunga, adjacent to the BP service station heading north out of Urunga. There is plenty of parking space near to the service station. In addition to our famous two yellow banners, we will be parading our brand new 3 m by 1 m banner, which will be easily readable for passing motorists.  Please consider joining us for this important action. Now more than ever, given the recent Senate elections, it is vital to keep the appalling treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention in the public eye. If you can join us, then please let Mike know by emailing him Let’s give our new banner  a strong showing!
Supporting Refugee Charities

As you will be aware, we have been supporting the ChilOut charity for the past two and a half years. During this time, we have donated about $1,750 to ChilOut through our market stall sales and individual donations, plus a further $2,000 from our recent Simon Tedeschi recital. Following suggestions from our supporters, we now plan to switch our support to The Asylum Seekers Centre, which is based in Newtown. The ASC offers a wide range of support to asylum seekers and refugees, including accommodation, legal and financial support, employment assistance, English classes, a food bank and much besides.  You can check them out by going to their website at:

​Bellingen stall last Saturday

National RAR Conference: Bendigo  3rd and 4th September
​  2016​
The national RAR group is planning a major conference for RAR members across Australia, and they are hoping for  representation from members of our group. The conference will be very interesting and informative, with a range of keynote speakers and discussion sessions. If you would be interested in travelling to Bendigo for the conference, please let us know by email at: Further information can be obtained from the national RAR coordinator  at:

Registrations are required by August 6 so act now to attend this important event.

Closure of Manus Island Detention Centre.
In April of this year the PNG Supreme Court ruled that the Manus Island detention centre for refugees was unconstitutional and had to close.
The ruling has been hailed as a major victory for refugees and asylum seekers. The day after the closure the Manus Detention Centre was made an open centre but the PNG Government announced that it would still be closed.
Since then there has been a noticeable silence on the issue. We have had no details of the timescale for the closure or of what arrangements are being made for over 900 refugees currently detained there.
Conditions on the island have been described as a “hellish prison camp” while others have called it Australia’s Guantanamo in the heart of the Pacific Ocean”.
Yet we know little about the conditions and everyday life on Manus Island — and that’s pretty much the way the government wants to keep it.

A refugee walks between tents on Manus Island.

High security surrounds Manus and workers under contract on the islands are forbidden to describe the living conditions, sanitation, medical services or other essential aspects of everyday life on the island . The government has kept Manus Island under a cloud of secrecy so that human rights abuses are far from scrutiny. Human rights groups and lawyers have had difficulty getting access to the island and some of their reports have been heavily censored. There have been widespread claims of rape and sexual abuse taking place on Manus and suicide incidents seem to be a regular occurrence.
The cost of running the Manus Island detention centre has refugee advocacy groups truly outraged. It has cost an estimated $1 billion over four years alone.
Further estimates obtained by the Refugee Action Coalition claim the cost of offshore processing is around $400,000 per person per year.
The $2 billion contract awarded last year to Transfield Services, now called Broadspectrum, to provide services at the government’s Nauru and Manus Island detention centres, is only part of the total cost. Many believe that this money would be far better spent on processing and accommodating the refugees here in Australia.
PNG said it is refusing to accept responsibility for those awaiting processing and the Supreme Court in PNG is expected to formally order the detainees back to Australia.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton are insistent that none of the asylum seekers being held at the Manus Island detention centre, will ever make their way to Australia.
It is timely therefore for us to ask some questions. What is being planned for these refugees? Where will they be accommodated? Will they be sent to Christmas Island? What is the timescale for the relocation? Does the new Turnbull Government have a plan and if so can we hear about it?
Marlene Griffin July 2016

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