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Our December Newsletter for 2020


Coffs Harbour is in the middle of a major housing crisis. There has been an influx of people from the city which has put a strain on an already tight market. Many rental properties have been sold, resulting in leases being terminated and the renters being evicted. Christmas has traditionally been a very difficult time to rent, but this year is much worse.

A worker from one of the NGO groups that works with refugees in Coffs has told us that their service alone currently has four refugee families that are either homeless, or will be, in the coming 4-6 weeks. He told us:
"This is the tip of the iceberg, and I know of numerous other refugee families not with our service who are in the same predicament.

These include :
A family of 3 adults, including elderly mother, couch surfing.
A family of 6, including new baby, in a long term, tiny cabin. 
A family of 9, 4 weeks left before eviction.
A family of 6, including elderly parents. 6 weeks before eviction. 

These families are genuine refugees who have sought and received refuge in Australia from trouble spots around the world from Africa to Syria and Myanmar. They are accustomed to paying rent in the range of $350 to $560 depending on the size of the rental property.

or RING MARGARET at 0414 592 519

Note :  there are no cabins, caravans or hotel/motel rooms available in Coffs Harbour at all.

Please sign this petition requesting Coffs Council to open Coffs Showgrounds for local homeless families

Copy and paste this link

Kate Wickman started this petition to Coffs Harbour City Council (Local Gov) and 5 others

Homeless individuals and families who have not been able to secure housing/accommodation, due to lack of availability, should be allowed to have somewhere safe to sleep in their CARS at night whilst they await approval for the rental properties they have applied for.

Individuals moving out of cities are being given preference over LOCAL FAMILIES in the rental housing market and as a result many are now homeless due to NO FAULT of their own.

We had a very successful time at Valla Beach market on Saturday. The sun shone, the crowds arrived and we had a busy time talking to market-goers, selling our merchandise and getting people to send greetings to parliamentarians, asking them to free the Biloela family by Christmas.

People were also very generous with their donations, and we will make our final donation of 2020 to the asylum Seekers Centre in the days ahead. Hopefully, in the New Year, we will be able to plan a number of fundraising activities, particularly as we can now invite up to fifty people to a private house.

A big thank you to the market organisers and to our team of supporters for helping to make the morning so successful. 

Just a small number of us braved the heat last Saturday for our demonstration on the Pacific Highway next to the Big Banana. Fortunately, there was a strong, cooling breeze to sustain us, and the reaction from motorists, as always, was overwhelmingly positive, and at times enthusiastic!

Our final demonstration for 2020 will take place by the Pacific Highway, opposite the base hospital In Coffs Harbour on Saturday 12th December from 10.00 am until 11.30 am. 

Please come and join us if you can, and show your solidarity for the plight of the thousands of asylum seekers and refugees who continue to suffer terribly under our government’s punitive and cruel immigration policy.

Following his successful exhibition at the Nexus Gallery in October-November, one of our supporters, Jeremy Barrett, has very kindly donated $600 from the sale of his work to RAR, which we will forward to the ASC together with any final income from sales and donations at the Valla Beach market. This will undoubtedly be a welcome end-of-year gift to the ASC, who need every dollar that supporters can raise during these very challenging times. 
A big thank you to Jeremy for his generous gift.

In our newsletter two weeks ago, we described the plight of the Udawatta family, who face deportation following the death of the father of the family in September. We urged supporters to contact our local MP, Pat Conaghan and the Acting minister for Immigration, Alan Tudge.

At the time of writing, we have received a reply from Pat Conaghan MP, assuring us that he has made representations to the Minister on behalf of the family and that he will continue do all he can to ensure that they remain in Australia.   That is very encouraging and positive news. You might wish to thank Pat Conaghan for his timely intervention, and ask him to continue to advocate for the family to stay. 

 We have not, to date, received any response from the minister’s office.
Could you therefore please consider phoning Alan Tudge’s office?
*Tell them that you are aware that Pat Conaghan has made representations on behalf of the Udawatta family.
*Ask whether the Minister has made a decision to intervene to allow the family to stay in Australia.
*Tell him that this is an urgent issue, and that you know that he has the power to intervene. Emphasise that the Kempsey community is fully supportive of the family and that they are hoping that the Minister will make a decision before Christmas.

You can find letters to both politicians by clicking on the link to our blog at the end of this newsletter.
Pat Conaghan’s phone number:  6277 4446 (Canberra), or 6652 6233 (Coffs Harbour). 
Alan Tudge’s phone number:  6277 7790 (Canberra) or 03 9887 3890 (electoral office).
If you happened to be listening to RN last Thursday morning, you might have heard a report by Fran Kelly about the continuing plight of this Sri Lankan family of four, who have now spent more than 1000 days in detention after being snatched from their home in Biloela in March 2018, where they had been living for a number of years.

The family have been held in detention on Christmas Island for well over a year. The two young daughters are accompanied to school by guards each day, and their lives are both precarious and miserable. 

 The Biloela community has fought long and hard to persuade the government to grant the family leave to stay in the country and the town that they call home, but to no avail. Minister Dutton, true to form, is utterly dismissive of the family’s and the community’s pleas for compassion. He has made it clear that the family is not welcome here, and accuses them of “trying every trick in the book” to avoid deportation.

At our market stall in Valla Beach on Saturday, we gave out specially-made Christmas cards, provided by our national RAR committee, to send to politicians about the Biloela family. The message inside reads:

3 years after
Asylum seekers Nades, Priya and their two daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa were taken by Border Force from their newly adopted home in Biloela Queensland in March 2018. They are still in detention. Despite strong support from the people of Biloela and the wider Australian community, the government continues to deny them residency. We ask that the children will not face another year in detention and that they will be safely home in Biloela by Christmas.

You might like to send your own Christmas cards, using these words, to the politician of your choice.
Pat Conaghan MP: PO Box 2056, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450
Peter Dutton MP: PO Box 2012, Strathpine, Queensland 4500
Alan Tudge MP:  Suite 4, Level 1, 420, Burwood Highway, Wantima South, VIC 3152
This new project is produced by UNSW’s Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, initiated with support from the Collier Charitable Fund, and features an eight-episode narrative podcast series from the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Guardian Australia.

Temporary offers rare access and intimate understanding of people navigating Australia’s refugee system, with no way to secure permanent protection. In their own voice, each refugee and asylum seeker speaks from a shadowy legal limbo of Australia’s creation.

You can listen to the podcast series by clicking on this link:
We have about 100 postcards to distribute, provided by national RAR, for you to send to politicians. We’ll be handing them out at our markets in the months ahead, and we hope that you will join the campaign to impress on politicians that we want an end to the punitive and inhumane policy which inflicts so much suffering on people who have fled their homelands to seek a safe haven in Australia.
We need to send a strong message that we will not vote for this cruel policy.

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