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1.      Rally in CanberraPermanent Residence for all.

A refugee rally was held on the lawns of Parliament House on Monday 6 March, calling for permanency for all refugees in Australia, not just those on TPVs and SHEVs.  It was attended primarily by refugees, and many stayed on for several days, to strengthen their point that many have been excluded from the permanency offered by the Albanese Government.  Full congratulations to the refugee organisers who did a great job.


2.       This call for permanent visas for all is a big part of PALM SUNDAY. Rallies and other actions are planned for Sunday April 2.

Sydney:  Palm Sunday rally for Peace and Refugees for 2023 will be held at Belmore Park, near Central Station. The march will proceed up Broadway to Victoria Park where it will disperse.

Melbourne: Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees

Music from 1.30pm, speakers from 2pm at the State Library, corner Swanston and Latrobe Streets, Melbourne. Around 2.45pm Walk through the city to Parliament Gardens where there will be closing speakers and music until around 4pm.


RAR groups:  please send us your actions and we will list on our website and on the ARAN website.

More information:


3.       Mansfield RAR– Afghan refugees have arrived.  RAR group members have lodged sponsorship applications for hundreds of vulnerable Afghans.  It is uplifting to see that eight people have secured humanitarian visas and are being settled in the Mansfield area, with the support of RAR members.  There is one family of five and three single women.  We can only hope this is the start of more successful outcomes from our sponsorship applications. 

The Afghan Sub-committee haS urged us all to keep up our letter-writing to politicians and stories in local media, to ensure that Afghanistan is not ‘forgotten’.  The Albanese Government has promised 31,500 visas between 2021 – 2026.  A drop in the bucket of those that are needed urgently. 

4.       Watandar, My Countryman.
Many RAR groups will know Muzafar Ali and Jolyon Hoff and their documentary The Staging Post.  They have now produced another documentary. Jolyon writes:

The tagline for Watandar is “We’re all a little bit more connected than we think’ and every event will be an opportunity to connect our audience with the Cisarua Learning community. Hope to see you there.

When we are in your town or city we would love to visit your school or university, or even better arrange discounted daytime cinema screenings. .”

You can view the trailer here.

Confirmed Screening Dates 28/02/2023

NSW Mid-Coast

Apr 28th/29th - NSW Film Festival TBA


May 31st - 6:30PM Classic Esternwick, VIC [on sale here]

June 1st - 6:30PM Cameo Dandenong, VICon sale here]

June 2nd - 6:30PM Lido Hawthorne, VIC [on sale here]

June 3rd - 6:30PM Pivotonian Geelong, VIC

Brisbane & Sunshine Coast

June 7th - 6:30PM New Farm, QLD [on sale here]

June 8th - 6:30PM The J Noosa, QLD

June 10th - 6:30PM Maleney, QLD

Sydney, Bowral and Canberra

June 11th - 6:30PM Ritz, NSW [on sale here]

June 12th - 6:30PM Dendy Newtown, NSW

June 14th - 6:30PM Empire Bowral, NSW [on sale here]

June 15th - 11am Empire Bowral, NSW [Schools]

June 16th - 6:30PM Dendy Canberra, ACT

June 18th - VIC Film Festival TBA

June 19th - VIC Film Festival TBA

June 20th - 12PM & 6:30PM Griffith, NSW

Adelaide and South Australia

June 28th - Adelaide Academic Panel, SA

July 2nd - 8:30PM Marree, SA [Free]

July 5th - 6:30PM Pt Augusta, SA

July 6th - 6:30PM Piccadilly, SA

July 7th - 6:30PM Mitcham, SA

July 8th - 6:30PM Mt Barker, SA

5.      Refugee Week:  18 – 24 June 2023

The Refugee Council runs the annual Refugee Week and many groups take up this opportunity to run events that highlight the positive contribution that refugees make to our country.  Once again the Refugee Week website has resources and a listing of events for groups to use.  The theme this year is Finding Freedom.


6.       Neil Para –  a refugee’s story

Neil and his family live in Ballarat and are supported by many people there.  Neil is an active community volunteer, and advocates for people like himself who don’t have permanent residence.  He has written the story of his and his family’s life.  He published this first on Facebook and has now compiled this into an ebook.  He has asked us to promote it.  If you would like a copy, please email and Jonathan will forward you a copy.


7.       Neil Para’s Refugee Week event – Baxter Mums

Neil wrote to RAR and asked us to put out this call:

“Four Baxter Mums living in Geelong used to visit the detention center in Baxter. I am planning to have an exhibition to acknowledge their amazing work and also want to have other refugee activists' images too. Please volunteer yourself and/or let someone be at the exhibition.

I want your photo (half is preferred) and any photos were taken in the rallies or protests etc

Write a biography about yourself (about 200-500 words)

Optional: I will really appreciate it if you can help me to print your story and images. (cost/expenses) Printing will be at Ballarat Officeworks, so you can order print online, I can collect them)

I am also looking for some of the stories of those who had to depart before our plight ends.

Looking in any gender displays.”

If you can help, please get in touch with Neil.


9.       Voluntary contribution - thanks to the groups who have made a contribution to RAR.  Special thanks to Mansfield for their generous payment of $500.  These contributions are voluntary – there is no membership fee for RAR.  When groups make a payment, it gives the National Committee more scope for campaigning costs.  If your group hasn’t yet made a contribution, could you please consider this at your next meeting?

10.   RAR Website.  We launched the new website last year but I confess that it was not well maintained after the May election.  But our wonderful Communications Convenor has been giving it some loving attention.  Kat has developed a new page – Community Stories.  Here you will see an interview with Paul McKinlay from Buddies from Buderim.

The March Letter-writing kit is there.  This month the topic is Raise the Humanitarian Intake.  These are great resources for groups and supporters to use, as we continue our persistent and continuous call for justice for refugees.

That’s it from me – Guest Editor for the past two Updates.  Bernie Maxwell from Griffith RAR has offered to take on this role, from April.  We are very grateful to Bernie for this!

Louise Redmond

RAR National Committee


Rural Australians for Refugees on Twitter and Facebook 

RAR is a member of the Australian Refugee Action Network
Rural Australians for Refugees


National RAR update. January 2023


10th January 2023

Hello to all RAR Members and Supporters – welcome to the latest RAR update.

We hope that you have taken time to rest, enjoy time with loved ones, recharge your batteries, and prepare for the year ahead. It will undoubtedly be a challenging one for refugees and asylum seekers across the world, and we will need to retain our passion and resolve to support them in every way we can.

Permanent residency for some, sometime in 2023

In late December, the government announced that the 19,614 refugees who currently hold either Temporary Protection Visas or Safe Haven Enterprise Visas will finally be granted permanent visas in 2023. This is most welcome news. However, the government has said nothing about when in 2023 it will grant these people permanent protection, nor has it offered any information about the process for the transfer, which leaves a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety for the refugees involved. It is in everybody’s interests, including those of the NGOs and other groups who will be involved in the process, to have some clarity about when and how the transfer will be actioned.

We then need to ask what will happen to the other 12,000 asylum seekers and refugees living in Australia on various types of temporary visas. After more than a decade, some of them have not yet had their cases assessed, others are still waiting on the outcome of their applications, and many have had their applications refused because decision-makers have relied on outdated and flawed country information. It also has to be said that, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal stacked with supporters of the previous government, many applicants were treated less than fairly, in spite of the merits of their case. The announcement of the abolition of the current AAT is most welcome, and we await news of the new appointments to the Tribunal and  details about when it will resume its operation. We look forward to a fair, timely and transparent process in the Tribunal’s treatment of applications for protection.

Surely, the most sensible, fair and compassionate approach to the treatment of these 12,000 legacy caseload asylum seekers is to expedite their transfer to permanent protection as soon as they have met the criteria for refugee status. They have been here for a decade or more, and we owe them the opportunity to finally have some sense of permanency and belonging, so that they can at last begin to rebuild their shattered lives.

Please consider writing to the Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil, and the Minister for immigration, Andrew Giles, about the issues outlined above.

  • Welcome the decision to grant permanent visas to the 19,614 people currently holding TPVs and SHEVs.
  • Urge them to urgently publish the timeline and process for the transfer to permanent protection.
  • Welcome the abolition of the AAT.
  • Urge them to urgently consider the plight of the 12,000 legacy caseload asylum seekers, and to expedite their claims for protection. In the meantime, the government should cease harassing these people to make arrangements for their departure to third countries. They are Australia’s responsibility and the government should show them some compassion.

Email addresses:


Little progress for asylum seekers on Nauru and in PNG

After more than a decade of torment and punishment, it seems extraordinary that the Labor government continues to ignore the plight of the almost 200 asylum seekers and refugees remaining on Nauru and in PNG. The government’s clear intent is that they should remain there until such time as they find third countries prepared to accept them, regardless of how long this might take. The plan to resettle 150 refugees a year in New Zealand, which excludes those in PNG, but does include some refugees in Australia, is a painfully slow process.

Meanwhile, the US-based Management and Training Corporation is being paid handsomely to provide “garrison and welfare services” to less than 100 people on Nauru. An amended contract notice, published on 23rd December, shows that the government is now paying MTC a total of $69 million for four months work up to the end of January. This is the same company that is now the subject of further potentially criminal allegations in the US, where it is alleged that MTC made prisoners sign falsified documents, enabling it to claim millions of dollars for in-prison therapeutic services that it did not provide.

Unsurprisingly, most of the refugees, who have been stranded on Nauru for a decade, are suffering from mental health issues, which is proving to be a serious obstacle in relation to completing their applications for resettlement in third countries.

The humane, and cost-effective solution, is for these refugees to be transferred to Australia to live in the community and to receive the support that they need whilst their resettlement applications are finalised.

Please consider writing to the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Immigration (details above).

  • Urge them not to extend the MTC contract beyond the end of January.
  • Ask them to transfer all the refugees who remain on Nauru to Australia to live in the community whilst their applications for resettlement are finalised.


Proposed actions at MPs offices


The first 2023 sitting of Federal Parliament is in the week starting 6th February. Those involved in November's Canberra convergence have suggested that groups rally outside as many MPs’ and Senators’ offices as possible in the preceding week, namely from 30th January to 3rd February. The intention is to send a coordinated message to MPs and Senators that they must urgently grant permanent visas to all the refugees currently on temporary visas.

The main focus needs to be on ALP MPs, plus the TEALs and Independents.  Rar groups in Coalition electorates are encouraged to take other actions, such as handing out leaflets to passing foot traffic outlining the issue and purpose of the action and writing a letter that is delivered to the MP: there are proposals to produce templates for both, and these will be circulated to groups in advance.

There is of course some value on the actions being on a single day, but it is probably better for RAR members to organise an event which best suits their needs and availability.

Please contact the RAR National President, Jonathan, at if you are interested, to help with coordination nationally.


Afghan sponsorship successes

During the Christmas break, the Department of Immigration granted several protection visas to Afghan individuals and families. A human rights lawyer and her four children who had fled to Iran several months ago were granted a Safe Haven Protection Visa. Three single women – a midwife and two women who had served in the Afghan army - and who had been moved to Pakistan with RAR support, were also granted visas. A father of seven, who had been a colonel in the Afghan army, was also, along with his family, granted protection.

We hope that this gives RAR supporters real hope and confidence that hard work and lobbying does bring results. We must move ahead in 2023 with renewed vigour.

Marie Sellstrom.

Convenor, Afghan sponsorship.


Palm Sunday Rallies: save the date

Palm Sunday, which falls on 2nd April this year, has been an important national date for rallies and other activities in support of refugees. RAR members have regularly made it a part of their calendar of events, though in recent times this has been more difficult due to the Covid pandemic.

The Australian Refugee Action Network, in which RAR is involved, has begun holding meetings to propose themes and provide resources for Palm Sunday actions. Your group can be part of Palm Sunday actions this year, so please start planning how you can use the occasion to keep up the pressure on the Labor government for permanent settlement for all.

Further details will be shared with RAR groups as they emerge.


Lessons for today from a refugee story of 1956

A few years ago, Sandy Watson, who is the convenor of the Trentham RAR group , wrote a book called  One Perfect Day. It was the story of 18-year-old Veronika Csosz who grew up in post-World War II in Hungary and fled the country after the Soviet forces invaded Budapest in 1956. Sandy writes:

This was the first time that the United Nations Refugee Agency and the international community had to deal with a refugee crisis of this magnitude, resettling 200,000 Hungarians in 37 countries in three years. It was a fantastic example of what can be done when the international community rallies and – as the world grapples with 89.3 million refugees forcibly displaced – of the urgent need for the international community to find ways to not only address and properly support communities managing displacement, but also to work together to minimize the causes.

Sandy has recently released an audio version of the book.

Originally published in 2013, One Perfect Day: Memoir of Veronika Csosz audio book is available now For further information, contact author Sandy Watson


RAR December Newsletter

 Hi RAR members

For refugees and people seeking asylum, and their supporters, 2022 in Australia has been a difficult year, but progress has been made.


At the start of the year, the brief immigration detention of leading tennis player Novak Djokovic at the Park Hotel helped our movement's efforts to highlight the situation of hundreds of refugees detained there and in other hotel "alternative places of detention" (APODs). The release from the APODs of the refugees who had been brought to Australia from offshore detention under the 2018 medical evacuation law accelerated. By April the Medevac refugees were out of the APODs, although some are still in detention centres.


In March, the Morrison government announced 16,500 additional refugees places for people fleeing Afghanistan. However, we're conscious - especially our national working group and the member groups that are working on sponsorship for refugees trying to come to Australia - that few Afghan refugees from the Taliban have got here so far. The decade-long re-orientation of the immigration department into "Border Force" has wrecked its capacity to serve people and we have to keep on at the government now to reverse this.


The purportedly immovable LNP government was moving as it stared down the barrel of election defeat. But I think voters proved to be wise to cheap tricks: they took what was on offer and moved on.


Under the new government, the news that Priya, Nades, Kopi and Tharnicaa were able to return #HometoBilo and gained permanent residency was cheering. But that other refugees, on temporary visas, who Labor promised permanent visas during the election, are still waiting at year's end is trying. That well over 10,000 other people who are seeking asylum here, because their claims for asylum have been rejected, or because of how they came to Australia, are not being offered permanent settlement at all is troubling. Our movement has been supporting permanent visas for all, with #HometoBilo turning its strength to this campaign.


RAR members can be proud of the achievements of our September national conference (thanks to the organising group in the Blue Mountains). I believe it has been the only in-person grassroots national conference in the movement since the pandemic began.


The conference saw those with lived experience play a leading role. It was an inspiring experience, which carried forward and tested out ideas, found in the Katoomba Declaration, that our movement can try to change the story about refugees in this country and seek to change policy across a broad range of issues. Copies of the Katoomba Declaration and the Conference Report are attached (and can be found on RAR's website).


I believe that might be the basis for a more united, more powerful and more far-reaching movement, for which November's Canberra Convergence and Palm Sunday marches and rallies, to be held in early April 2023, could represent green shoots.


Voluntary Contributions


What RAR has achieved in 2022 and can achieve in 2023 is primarily the result of the time and thought people give to our member groups. I'd like to celebrate the efforts of the National Committee's members in offering some coordination and guidance as well.


But can I mention we also need some resources to make that happen. RAR does not have a membership fee: at our AGM this year we again resolved to ask if members can make voluntary contributions. Can you please consider having a discussion of what your group might be able to put in at your first meeting next year.

Best wishes to everyone for the festive season and I look forward to working with you for justice for refugees in the new year.

 In solidarity


 National President


Rural Australians for Refugees on Twitter and Facebook 

RAR is a member of the Australian Refugee Action Network
Rural Australians for Refugees


Dear Minister Giles, Please find enclosed an open letter ........



                                                                                                29th November 2022

Dear Minister Giles,

Please find enclosed an open letter, addressed to you, and signed by 755         people who have visited Rural Australians for Refugees market stalls in recent times. The letter reads:

We, the undersigned, are dismayed to learn that, instead of evacuating the approximately 100 refugees remaining on Nauru, you plan to award a contract to Management and Training Corporation, a US prisons operator with a chequered track record. This is a terrible decision, and a missed opportunity for the Labor government to demonstrate that it is genuinely committed to human rights and to a more compassionate treatment of refugees.

Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, recently introduced the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2022 to the federal parliament. His bill presents an opportunity to reform a regime that leading legal and human rights organisations have called “inhumane, unnecessary and unlawful.” We urge you to support Andrew Wilkie’s bill, and to bring all refugees currently held on Nauru and in PNG to Australia, whilst arrangements for their resettlement are finalised.



Following the federal election, expectations were high that the Labor government would take steps to dismantle the terrible asylum regime inherited from the Coalition. Certainly, the rhetoric has changed, and you have frequently signalled your positive intentions regarding the humane and fair treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. That much, we recognise and acknowledge. However, the decision to appoint a new contractor to oversee the ongoing torment of the remaining refugees on Nauru is deeply disappointing, and is seriously at odds with your frequent comments about the need to treat refugees with humanity and compassion. Keeping these people on Nauru, in addition to being eye-wateringly expensive, serves no good purpose and is morally indefensible.

We urge you to bring them all to Australia without delay, so that they can receive the support and medical treatment that they need, until their resettlement in third countries can be finalised.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Griffin

Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees


Hear Behrouz Boochani in Sydney


Behrouz Boochani: Freedom, Only Freedom

Tue 13 Dec | 6.30pm | Roundhouse, UNSW Sydney | Free


Join Kurdish-Iranian writer Behrouz Boochani live, for his first ever visit to Australia. 

If it weren’t for the consecutive Australian government’s inhuman treatment of refugees; Behrouz Boochani wouldn’t be a household name.

The Kurdish-Iranian journalist spent years languishing in offshore detention, during which time he witnessed those seeking asylum being exposed to conditions that violated international refugee law. Following an introduction from his long-time translators and collaborators, Omid Tofighian Moones Mansoubi and in-conversation with human rights lawyer Madeline Gleeson, Behrouz Boochani will share his stories of resilience, and shed light on the shameful refugee policies that the Australian government continues to endorse. 

UNSW Sydney Centre for ideas




Shop for Christmas; Shop with Impact


Every purchase helps the Asylum Seekers Centre to continue to welcome, empower and support people in the Sydney community seeking asylum.



cards, wrapping paper and more.


National RAR Update, November 2022



National RAR update. November 2022


8th November 2022

Hello to all RAR Members and Supporters – welcome to the latest RAR update.


Permanent visas for all refugees: 29 November Canberra Convergence