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Newsletter for 29 August 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca

Next Roadside Demo - Big Banana Coffs Thursday September 7th 2:30pm
Next Market Stall - Bellingen Sat 16th September
RAR blog
Travelling Film Festival Sawtell
Manus Island update
The government sinks to a new low

Roadside demonstration report

Although we were just a group of four for the roadside demonstration in Toormina last week, we all agreed that it was very well worthwhile. We had lots of positive reaction from passing motorists, which clearly demonstrates that there are many Australians who are not happy with the current punitive policies of the government and the opposition, and who want to see a more humane response to the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
The dates and locations for our demos in September and October are:
Thursday 7th September : The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour
Thursday 21st September:  Nambucca Heads, near the Plaza shopping centre
Thursday 12th October : Coffs Harbour, opposite the Base hospital
Thursday 26th October: Bellingen, adjacent to the playing fields, and opposite the golf course.
All the demos run from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. Please try to join us if you can.
Please note the three-week gap between the Nambucca Heads and Coffs Harbour demos, owing to another RAR commitment involving a number of supporters.

Coffs Harbourside market report

A great market under sunny skies on Sunday, with a terrific group of supporters turning up to help on our stall. We collected almost 100 signatures on our petition, distributed lots of leaflets, sold a good number of bumper stickers, bags, T shirts and tea towels, and had many positive interactions with market-goers. All profits from sales are donated to the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown, who do amazing work  supporting refugees in Sydney. 
Our markets for September and October are as follows:
Saturday 16th September : Bellingen
Saturday 7th October: Valla Beach
Sunday 22nd October : Coffs Harbour
Why not put the dates in your diary and come along to lend a hand for a while between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm? If you are able to help, then please let Mike know by emailing him at :

Our RAR blog

A reminder that we have a very active blog, which you can access by clicking on the link at the bottom of this newsletter. It is a very popular source of information, with 400 visits over a ten-day period recently.  When you send an email or a letter to a politician, or have a letter about asylum seekers published in the press, it would be greatly appreciated if you could forward your piece to:  for inclusion on the blog. We know that many of you do write to politicians, but don’t then forward your message for inclusion on the blog, which can make it look as though we have only one or two writers!

The Travelling Film Festival: Nambucca Heads and Sawtell

The TFF will be in Nambucca Heads on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th September, and in Sawtell  from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th September. Several of the films have refugee/immigrant themes, which might be of interest to RAR members. They include Ali’s Wedding (Sawtell, Friday 8th at 7.00 pm), Hope Road (Sawtell, Saturday 9th at 12.00 pm) and The Other Side of Hope ((Sawtell, Sunday 10th at 3.15 pm).  If anyone would like a lift from Valla Beach, then please email Georgette Allen at:

Manus Island. What is going on?

Things continue to get worse by the day for refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island. In a new twist, the PNG government’s attorney general, Davis Steven, has told Australia’s high commissioner that his government has not agreed to a 31st October closure. The PNG government understandably fears that the Australian government will close the centre and simply walk away from its responsibility for the 900 men who it sent there. These 900 men are no more than pawns in a political game. They have no idea how many, if any of them, will be resettled at some point in the US, and they have no idea what will happen to them when the centre closes. If our government has a Plan B, we have no idea what it consists of.

Our government sinks to a new low

In recent days, the government has decided to target those refugees and asylum seekers who were brought to Australia  for medical treatment from Nauru or Manus island. There are almost 400 people involved, including many children.  The first batch of this cohort, comprising approximately 100 people, have been told that their welfare support, currently just $200 a fortnight, will cease as of 28th August, and that they must now find their own place to live within the next three weeks. They will be issued with a new visa, ominously entitled “final departure Bridging E Visa”. Up to now, they have now been allowed to work. Now they are being told that they must find work to support themselves or be returned forcibly to Nauru, Manus island, or return to the danger from which they originally fled. We have to ask: Who is going to offer employment to someone who is in possession of a “Final Departure” visa?
In a chilling threat to the children involved, the government states : “Please remind your children that they will also be required to abide by Australian values and laws. Breaking Australian laws may result in their removal from the community.”
A Labor spokesperson, Richard Marles, stated: “It is very important that these people are not resettled in Australia.” Alan Tudge, the human services minister, stated:  “They will be settled elsewhere. That’s what this is about.”
Please consider writing to Alan Tudge  to protest about this latest act of cruelty.

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