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Newsletter for 10 July 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside demonstration: Coffs Harbour, Thursday 12 July
Sale of Wendy Sharpe painting
Another child brought to Australia for treatment
Five Years Too Many: National Protest: Saturday 21

Roadside demonstration: Coffs Harbour, Thursday 12

Our next roadside demonstration will take place this Thursday, 12 July on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour, opposite the Base hospital, from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. Please come and join us if you can, and help us to send a message to the public that there are many Australians who are deeply opposed to the government’s cruel offshore detention regime. We have lots of banners and placards to share.

Sale of Wendy Sharpe painting

We are delighted to report that we have sold the painting “Lili Koi in Pink Light” by Wendy Sharpe for $750. Having also received several generous donations in recent times for our fundraiser for the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown, we have been able to send them a further $1,000 this week, making a total of $2,500 from our recent fundraising efforts. A big thank you to all who contributed in any way.
These funds are now more important than ever as more and more asylum seekers lose their meagre benefits and their access to housing, placing huge pressure on the voluntary sector. This is just the latest action by our government to demonise and punish the asylum seekers in our communities. It is not the fault of the asylum seekers that the government has failed for years to process their claims for protection, whilst at the same time, until recently, denying them the right to work. The resulting savings to taxpayers are negligible, but the cost to individuals is enormous. Families are wondering how to feed their children, how to keep them warm and safe. A simple act of compassion on the part of the Minister could fix this. Sadly, Minister Dutton is on record as stating that compassion is the last thing we need in our treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

Another child brought to Australia for treatment
Once again, our government has been forced by court action to allow a seriously sick child into Australia for urgent medical treatment. She is at least the seventh child to be moved from offshore detention after legal action on their behalf. This young girl, who has been held on Nauru for several years, is suffering from acute mental health issues, which are a direct result of the detention regime. The conditions on Nauru are deliberately designed to break people’s spirit. How can we allow our government to continue with this brutal treatment which is destroying so many lives? What will it take for the Labor opposition to finally take a principled stance and call for the closure and evacuation of the offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru?

Five Years Too Many: National Protest: Saturday 21 July

Thursday 19 July marks the fifth anniversary of the Rudd government’s decision to reopen the offshore detention centres on Manus island and Nauru, and to declare that, from that date, no asylum seekers arriving by boat would ever be resettled in Australia. The consequences for the 2,000 asylum seekers and refugees trapped on Manus and Nauru have been truly tragic. On Nauru, those held in the detention centre – including 42 children – live in mouldy tents in the tropical heat. The remaining 750 refugees on Nauru, including more than one hundred children, live outside the detention centre in poor conditions and with no hope for the future. Many of them have close family members living in Australia who would like to be reunited with them and care for them. The children receive little support, education or medical services. It is reported that most of them have serious mental health problems as a direct result of their indefinite detention.
To date, twelve detainees have died as a result of medical neglect, assault by guards, or suicide.
Our government’s cruel policy has been widely condemned by international human rights organisations, by our own human rights commission and by the United Nations.
On Saturday 21 July, demonstrations will be held across Australia to protest about the government’s ongoing and indefinite offshore detention policy.

We will hold a demonstration on Harbour Drive in the centre of Coffs Harbour from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm on Saturday 21 July.

We plan to gather in the area usually occupied by the farmers’ market. This is a really important event and we earnestly hope that many of our supporters will want to take part. Please make a resolution to join us and encourage your colleagues, friends and family to come along. You will find a leaflet attached to this newsletter (below) which sets out the reasons for our protest. Please have a look at it, and consider writing to your local paper to call for an end to offshore detention. You can also find a sample letter, which you might like to adapt, by clicking on our blog link below
We will have twelve empty chairs to commemorate the detainees who have died whilst in the care of our government. We also have lots of banners and placards to share, but by all means create your own messages if you have the time. The more the better!
Let’s make this a really big one! We hope to see you there on 21 July.


 The shameful tragedy of Manus and Nauru
After five years of the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru, what do we know?
We know that more than 2,000 asylum seekers who arrived by boat to seek our protection have been abandoned on offshore islands.
We know that conditions for the detainees are terrible: mouldy tents, violence at the hands of guards and locals, physical and sexual abuse, and inadequate medical facilities.
We know that more than forty children are detained on Nauru, with another one hundred living precariously outside the detention centre. They are not receiving any education. Many of them have significant mental health problems.
We know that the majority of the detainees are suffering from serious mental health issues.
We know that the medical support for the detainees is woefully inadequate. Requests made by medical staff and officials for patients to be transferred to Australia for urgent treatment are routinely denied.
We know that the system is deliberately designed to break people’s spirit and to coerce them into returning to their homeland.
We know that to date twelve detainees have died as a result of medical neglect, suicide or fatal assaults by the guards who are paid by the Australian government to take care of them.

 We know that our government spends more than $500,000 per year to detain just one person offshore. That’s $2BILLION a year.
We know that, for the major political parties, all this suffering and all these deaths are a price they are willing to pay for purely political purposes. Winning votes takes precedence over principle and compassion.
We know that change will only happen when the Australian people demand an end to this cruel policy which shames us all.
We are here today because of what we know.
We are here today  to send a message to politicians that we intend to keep up the fight for an end to the cruelty of offshore detention.
We are here today because we refuse to look the other way whilst detainees on Manus and Nauru continue to suffer and die.
We are here today to say loudly: “not in our name!” As Australians, we are better than this.
How long  will it take our politicians to accept that this cruelty must end?
How many more deaths will it take for the Australian people declare that enough is enough?
How much more taxpayers’ money must be wasted before our government wakes up to the fact that there are better, more humane ways of resolving these issues?
Please consider joining us in our campaign for a more compassionate country. Telephone Malcolm Turnbull (02 6277 7700) and Bill Shorten (02 6277 4022)  to demand an end to offshore detention.

Published by Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees. Email:

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