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Newsletter: January 2021


Our first market of 2021 went really well. We had a great spot, the sun shone, the crowds turned up, and we had a very busy time interacting with lots of market-goers of all ages and backgrounds. Our open letter to the Prime Minister attracted more than 150 signatures, we sold in excess of $200- worth of merchandise, collected $40 in donations and signed up a number of new supporters.
Our open letter, which runs until 25th April, calls on the government to release all refugees and asylum seekers and to commit to their resettlement in a safe, permanent home by World Refugee Day on 20th July 2021. If you feel that you could collect signatures on the letter from friends, family, work colleagues or your social groups, then please get in touch with Mike at:, and he will send you the signature sheet. (It is also on this blog)

Our next market stall will be at the popular Valla Beach market on Saturday 6th February. If you can help out for an hour or two, then please email Mike to let him know, so that he can draw up a roster.

Last week’s roadside demonstration in Coffs Harbour went very well, with nine supporters holding up banners and placards to remind the public about the ongoing cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers by our government. As always, the reaction of passing motorists was overwhelmingly positive.
Our next demonstration will take place on Thursday 4th February from 2.30 to 4.00 pm by the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour, opposite the base hospital.

It would be great to welcome some new supporters. These demonstrations are an excellent way to keep the plight of refugees in the public eye.


We are a group of some 650 local citizens who are united in our commitment to achieving a realistic, fair, humane and compassionate national asylum seeker policy. We campaign in various ways, which are mentioned in our fortnightly Bulletins. We really do need more active members to support us.
Would you consider joining us at our local market stalls and roadside demonstrations? Being at the market stall is an encouraging and enlivening experience. We meet people who are willing to support our cause by signing petitions, buying our Boat People merchandise or making a donation. It is also a social time when we enjoy the company of one another and encourage ourselves in our work for refugees. 
Have you ever taken part in a roadside demonstration? It is not as scary as you may think. We have one placard saying “Honk for Refugees” and we receive many encouraging “honks” and/or waves. Any dissenting expressions we meet with a friendly wave. We do not confront. Over the years we have found fewer dissenters and many more expressions of support.
On several occasions a year we organize a fundraiser. We have had concerts and meals followed by an auction of pre-loved goods. If you have an idea for a fundraiser that you would like to suggest please contact us and we will support you in running it.
While our RAR group is very clear in its purpose we are also a very warm and friendly group and we would love you to make 2021 a year when you step outside your comfort level (maybe) and join us. We are stronger together.

I'd love to hear from you

Many of you will be aware that, in recent days, some sixty five refugees have been released from immigration detention in Melbourne, where they have spent a year or more detained in inner-city hotels or the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre. (MITA). They had been transferred to Australia from Nauru and PNG to receive medical attention under the now-repealed medevac legislation. Most of the men released had cases pending in court to protest the illegality of their detention – cases which the government knew that it was likely to lose, hence the belated decision to release the detainees into community detention. Minister Dutton’s explanation for the release of the refugees is that it is cheaper for them to live in the community than in detention - more of that anon.

The release of these refugees is clearly a most welcome development. However, it is important to note that there are still some 150 refugees stuck in hotels and other places of detention in Brisbane and Melbourne as a result of the government’s stubborn refusal to act with some compassion and humanity in its treatment of these medevac refugees. In addition, we need to note that the men released have been issued with temporary “Final Departure” visas, which are valid for just six months. During this time period, the refugees, according to the government, are expected to make arrangements to be resettled in the US, to return to Nauru or PNG, or to return to their home countries. This is hardly conducive to allowing them to recover from their trauma or to feel that they finally have some kind of safe and settled future to look forward to.

Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim had this to say about the release of the refugees: “There are still 150 people who suffered through years of offshore detention detained in Australia. They should also be immediately released. Those released today, and those still in detention, deserved freedom and safety a long time ago. Now they need permanent protection, support in our community, and a pathway to Australian citizenship. There was never a legitimate reason for their detention, and it’s time to write the end of this dark chapter in our country’s story.”

What can you do?
Please write to Minister Dutton at:

  • Tell him that you are pleased to learn about the release of the medevac refugees from detention in Melbourne.
  • Ask him to release the remaining 150 refugees into community detention immediately.
  • Ask him to ensure that they are given all the medical support that they require to treat their conditions, and the support required to assist them to settle in the community.
  • Ask him to grant the refugees permanent visas, which would allow them to finally feel that their futures are secure. They are our responsibility, and it is not possible for them to return to their home countries.
  •  Point out that, given that he has rightly acknowledged that it is much cheaper for refugees to live in the community, the same criterion should be applied to the Sri Lankan family of four being held on Christmas Island at a cost of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
  •  Likewise, remind him that his government plans to spend more than a billion dollars this year keeping some 270 refugees and asylum seekers out of sight and out of mind on Nauru and in PNG. How can this be justified?
  • Finally, ask him to urgently take up the offer of the New Zealand government to accept 150 of our refugees annually.
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