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Letter to editors - an affront to Australian Values

To Editors of

Nambucca Guardian News
Bellingen Courier Sun
Coffs Coast Advocate

Dear Editor,
We learned last week that new category visa has suddenly been introduced for around 400 asylum seekers who have been transferred from offshore detention to Australia for medical treatment. Under this new visa around 300 adults and 100 children will be required at the very short notice of 3 weeks to move out of their supported accommodation. Also, as from this week , and with no prior warning, they will have their meager income support of $100 per week cancelled. They will be expected to fend for themselves.

How can they do this if they have medical conditions or if they have children or other family members to care for ?  Some of them are pregnant women or have recently given birth. Most of these people have had, under their present visa restrictions, no access to job training or English language tuition. This obviously will restrict their opportunities for employment . 

These asylum seekers cannot be returned to Nauru or Manus Islands as these detention centres are due to close in the next few weeks.

The real aim of these new regulations is to force this group of asylum seekers back to their own war-torn countries to face renewed risk of persecution and possible death. Under international law it is not a crime to flee political violence or war or to seek safety by crossing international borders. These asylum seekers are within their rights to expect refuge yet they are being treated like criminals and pawns in a political game.   

To introduce these new policies in such a sudden and cruel way is one of the most inhumane and extreme decisions made by The Department of Immigration in some time. Our government seems determined to punish the most vulnerable in our society for political ends. They believe it will help them gain votes.

This newly introduced visa is an affront to Australian values of compassion and humanity and all decent minded Australians should oppose these measures.
You can visit the Rural Australians For Refugees stall in any of our local markets to find out more about how you can make your voice heard.

Marlene Griffin
On behalf of RAR

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