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Newsletter for 27 February 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Roadside Demo - Bellingen March 8th 2:30pm
Fundraising film screening this coming Sunday, March 4th
Freedom Stories - DVD available for loan
Harmony Festival - Coffs Sunday 25th March
Conditions on Nauru exposed

Roadside demonstration report

A big thank you to the group of supporters who turned up for last week’s  roadside demonstration in front of the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. As always, we had lots of support from passing motorists, together with the usual small minority of dissenters. We feel that it’s really important to keep the issue of the cruelty of our government’s  asylum policy in the public eye. It’s clear that the Coalition and the Labor opposition will maintain  the current regime of indefinite offshore detention unless we, the Australian voters, convince them that the tide has turned, and that this cruel and inhumane policy is no longer a vote winner.
Our next roadside demo will be on Waterfall Way in Bellingen, near the Yellow Shed, on Thursday 8th March from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. It would be great if a few more supporters could join us.

Fundraising screening of Hope Road: Sunday 4th March at 2.00 pm

A final reminder that our fundraiser for the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown is this coming Sunday at the Memorial Hall in Bellingen, starting at 2.00 pm. You will find a flyer about the screening attached to this newsletter and we would greatly appreciate it if you could print a few copies and share them with your friends or work colleagues. It’s an inspiring film which you will enjoy, so please come and join us if you can. We’ll have a stall in the foyer where you can buy our asylum seeker merchandise. The ASC, like other NGOs working with refugees and asylum seekers, is desperately in need of funds to enable them to continue with their important work, so we are very much hoping for a good turn out.

Freedom Stories : a great DVD available on loan

You may remember that we advertised this DVD, available on loan to RAR supporters, a couple of weeks ago. Freedom Stories is a documentary-based project that brings together a collection of personal stories from former asylum seekers who sought asylum in Australia at a time of great political turmoil circa 2001, but who have long since dropped out of the media spotlight. The people who participated in the project are all now Australian citizens. Given the ongoing controversies over  “boat people” it is timely that their stories be heard. To borrow the DVD, contact Mike at: The DVD is licenced for public viewing, so in addition to viewing it at home, you might like to consider organising a viewing for a local group, which could have a big impact for our cause.
Margaret Henley, who has recently watched the film, writes:
 I experienced a mixture of emotions as I watched this documentary:  elation at seeing these former refugees as productive Australian citizens, sadness at hearing of the traumas they suffered and anger at the heartlessness of the Australian government’s treatment of these asylum seekers.
 I admired Aoham, a teacher from Iraq who struggled with the difficulties of finding a teaching job at a school other than an Islamic one. Reyhana, after suffering depression for three years after leaving detention, now works at the Migrant Resource Centre in SA. She no longer wears a veil and emphasised that she now has the freedom to make that choice.
 What impressed me about the men who were interviewed was their determination to establish their own businesses, from tiling to painting to forming a company, which organises work for sub-contractors. They did not avoid talking about the pain of being separated from family, the depression many of them still suffer from and the memories of self-harm they witnessed in the detention camps.
 One of the more unexpected stories in the documentary showed Sherie, mother of three sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She was taking driving lessons in a truck, almost ready for her Heavy Rigid licence but aiming for the licence that will enable her to drive B-doubles. “I’ve always wanted to be a truck driver” she said.

Harmony Festival 2018: Coffs Harbour, Sunday 25th March

This year’s Harmony Festival will take place on Sunday 25th March from 9.30 am until 2.30 pm in the Botanic Gardens, Coffs Harbour.  The festival will be a wonderful celebration of everyone’s journey to calling Coffs Harbour home. Come along and enjoy an uplifting day of cultural performances and vibrant world music. If previous festivals are anything to go by, you will find the event full of life, colour, happiness and amazing aromas from around the world.
Entry is by gold coin donation and all are welcome. It will be a great family day out.
If you would like to volunteer on the day, than please phone Jane on: 6648 4850.

Appalling conditions on Nauru exposed

It seems almost unimaginable that refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, including children, are still living in mouldy tents, with no air-conditioning, on this tropical island. About 20 fly-in-fly-out  former Nauru immigration detention centre workers have become seriously ill as a result of of exposure to mould, and the microbiologist contracted to assess the problem,  Dr Cameron Jones, says that the contamination was “of epic proportions”. At least three confidential documents have been prepared for government over four years, detailing that “highly toxic” mould was an overwhelming problem across the centre, and posed a “major risk to the health and safety of the occupants”. Notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, the government insists that “there have been no cases of anyone developing health issues following exposure to mould at the Nauru RPC”.
How can we continue to expose these asylum seekers and refugees to such appalling danger? Yet another reason to close these hell holes and bring these innocent people to Australia for resettlement.

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