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Newsletter for 17 April 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Roadside Demo - Big Banana, Coffs, April 19th 2:30pm
Next market stall - Coffs Harbourside 22nd April
Draft alternative refugee policy from RAR conference
Another sick child transferred to Australia
Status Resolution Support Services update

Roadside demonstration: Thursday 19th April
A reminder that our next roadside demonstration is this Thursday from 2.30 to 4.00 pm by the Pacific Highway in front of the Big Banana. Please come and join us if you can, to send a clear message to the public and to politicians in all parties that the current  cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees is unacceptable and shameful. We have lots of banners to share, but we need more helping hands to hold them! Please remember to wear covered footwear, as the ants are pretty fearsome at this location.

Our next Market: Sunday 22nd April, Coffs Harbourside market
A reminder that our next market stall will be at the Coffs Harbourside market next Sunday, 22nd Aprilfrom 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. The market is located near the jetty foreshore. If you can lend a hand between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, then please let Mike know by emailing him at: We will be handing out leaflets, talking to market-goers, selling our merchandise and collecting signatures on a new open letter. Please drop by if you can to have a chat and to sign the open letter.

Draft Alternative Refugee Policy from RAR 2018 Conference
At the recent RAR national conference, the following statement about refugee policy was endorsed by delegates.
Australia needs to regain its moral credibility by the following:
Recognise that people who arrive in Australia by using people smugglers are human beings who need help.
End offshore detention. Resettle in Australia those found to be refugees.
End mandatory detention of asylum seekers, while allowing for detention if exceptional circumstances are shown.  Treat detainees with respect, not as criminals. Do not separate families unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Process refugee and visa claims in a timely, efficient and consistent manner. Simplify the visa system and grant only permanent visas,
Use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 as a guiding principle in framing refugee policy.
Use the UN Refugee Convention 1951 as the yardstick for determining refugee status.
Never deport asylum seekers to danger.
An alternative to our current deterrent policy would:
     Address the causes for people becoming refugees.  Use our diplomatic, trade and aid muscle to leverage better treatment of persecuted minorities in our region.
    Work with our regional neighbours currently hosting refugees, to provide Australian aid for safety, support, education and work rights.
    Support the 2018 UN Global Compact on Refugees. Fund UNHCR to set up more processing centres for those applying for refugee status and visas in our region.
    Increase our refugee intake.

Another sick child transferred to Australia
The Federal government was due in court yet again at the weekend , this time in a bid to refuse the transfer of a mentally ill young girl to Australia for urgent medical treatment. Just before proceedings were due to commence on Saturday morning, the government agreed that the child, together with her father and sibling, should be transferred from Nauru for urgent treatment. The child's lawyer rightly stated: "It's outrageous that we need to take steps to bring matters before the court in order for the government to take action that they should be taking, given that they have a duty of care to children on Nauru."
Here we have yet another young person whose health has been destroyed by our government's cruel policies, which are clearly designed to break people's spirits. This episode, one of many, serves to demonstrate the urgent need to end the cruel policy of detaining people indefinitely, simply because they have arrived in Australia by boat.  We must continue to do all we can to bring this shameful chapter in our history to an end.

Status Resolution Support Services update
Last week we wrote about the swingeing cuts that the government is making to SRSS, which currently provides limited support to asylum seekers living in Australia whilst their claims for protection under the Refugee Convention are assessed. In recent days, the tragic story of a Kurdish asylum seeker and his three young daughters - his wife drowned when the overcrowded leaky boat in which they were sailing sank whilst en route to Christmas Island - was published in the Saturday Paper. The Department of Home Affairs has withdrawn his SRSS allowance, leaving him destitute as he struggles to care for his three young daughters. As Paul Ronalds, the CEO of Save the Children states: "It is astonishing that the government would use these tactics to pressure people to leave behind their lives in Australia and place their children back in harm's way."
This is a truly desperate situation for Sadoullah Malakooti, who is clearly deeply traumatised. More than ten people in his position have committed suicide in the past four years. As Sadoullah says: "This is all designed to fail you, not to accept you. I don't believe in the system anymore. If I had a real chance of living in Iran, I wouldn't accept this torturous life. Every day is a torture here."
Please consider phoning Malcolm Turnbull's office to protest about the cuts to SRSS, and to plead with him to adopt a more humane and compassionate approach to people like Sadoullah, who is one of approximately 7,000 asylum seekers who will be affected by these cuts in the weeks ahead. You can read the full Saturday Paper article by clicking on our Facebook link at the end of this newsletter.
Malcolm Turnbull's contact numbers: (02) 9327 3980 or (02) 6277 7700.
You can email him by Googling "contact Malcolm Turnbull" and following the links.

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