Click on subject of interest shown on the right under the heading "labels" to see all relevant posts

To look at letters (and some replies) sent to politicians and newspapers, scroll down the index on the right hand side and select the appropriate heading.

Note the blog allows multiple labelling and all letters to politicians are under "letters to pollies".

If you scroll down and cannot go further, look out for icon "Older Posts". Click on that to continue


Newsletter for 29 April 2015 - Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi Everyone

We have added our group's name to the 

The Refugee Council finally received support from 124 groups 

This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes. To read complete newsletter click below

Moratorium on sending Asylum Seekers offshore - joint statement by Australian organisations and community groups

Our group has signed the following call for a moratorium and we have just received the following update from the Refugee Council

"In the end we had 124 organisations that agreed so promptly to add their voices to the moratorium call.

Feature media pieces linked below, in the Australian, on ABC AM and in the Guardian; the call was also mentioned on ABC TV news, Sunrise, Today and Studio 10, World Today, News Radio -and syndicated/published in a further 150 publications – as well as good social media coverage. A worthwhile enterprise - and we thank you for your generous support. Thanks too to UCA, NSWCCL and any other orgs who issued a release.

The Refugee Council has also contacted the Minister’s office and sought a meeting to continue to advocate on  this matter – and we encourage you to do the same. We will update you on any further outcomes."

Refugee Council Media Release


Embargoed 00.01am 24 April 2015

The Refugee Council of Australia has called for an immediate moratorium on transfers to Nauru following the tragic example of a five year old girl who has attempted to commit suicide following her prolonged detention there.

Over 100 Australian organisations and community groups, including churches and religious institutions, human rights, aid and development bodies, advocates and community organisations have joined the call to cease transfer of asylum seekers back to harm.

Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia said, “An innocent young girl of just five years old has been driven to attempting suicide because of the Australian Government’s inability to provide a satisfactory duty of care on Nauru. No child should be sent there and certainly not sent to a situation while the environment remains so dangerous.

“This young girl, who has shown sexualised behaviour, has self-harmed and is obviously profoundly and negatively impacted by the Australian Government’s policy of detaining children in extremely harsh environments, is indicative of the inability of the inadequacy of this current policy. 

“Any parent would be appalled by the impact on this vulnerable young girl, and we call upon the Australian Government to immediately cease the transfer of vulnerable asylum seekers until all the recommendations of the Moss Review and the Cornall report are implemented.

“We call on the Australian Government to show some compassion for a young vulnerable girl and not return her, nor any other vulnerable people to Nauru until the safety and protection of all asylum seekers can be guaranteed.

“The recent Moss Review and Cornall Reports illustrated sexual abuse, including rape, violence, drugs for favours and a general failure to provide safety and security, particularly for women and children, highlighted the inappropriateness of Nauru as a place to send already vulnerable asylum seekers.

“The Government has accepted all recommendations in the Moss Report and as such, no further children, women, nor men should be sent to Nauru not Manus until all recommendations are satisfied and safety and security of children and women can be assured”, concluded Mr Power.

For the full statement and list of signatories, see below.




Joint statement by Australian organisations and community groups

24 April 2015

We, the undersigned, call for an immediate moratorium on the transfer of asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island until the safety and security of vulnerable asylum seekers can be guaranteed.

The recent Immigration Department-commissioned independent investigations, the Moss Review into the failures of protection for children and women on Nauru, and the Cornall Report into the ruinous conditions on Manus Island, illustrate the inappropriate levels of protection and security inherent in the current system.

The Australian Government, in accepting all recommendations of the Moss Review, has acknowledged that major changes are needed at Nauru to ensure that women and children can be kept safe from physical, psychological and sexual abuse. 

The Moss Review also highlighted serious deficiencies in conditions at the Nauru detention centre and noted that asylum seekers had concerns about their personal safety and privacy. The Review concluded that asylum seekers’ safety should be considered paramount and that the Australian Government needs to do more in relation to infrastructure, policing and staffing, including ensuring that staff are properly trained on issues of personal safety and privacy for asylum seekers.

Conditions at Manus Island are no better: after two years of operation, a majority asylum seekers have still not had their applications processed and only a handful of people have been moved to the Lorengau transitory facility. Over 950 men remain at the Manus Island detention centre, continuing to live in fear. Recommendations from the Cornall Report into the Manus Island detention centre have not been implemented to a satisfactory standard. 

As appropriate care is not available on Manus Island or on Nauru, over 200 asylum seekers and accompanying family members who have been in offshore processing facilities are currently in Australia for medical treatment. 

Many of those detained on Manus Island and Nauru are now suffering significant mental distress including post-traumatic stress disorder. Returning those people, including children, to the place of their suffering and even to the place where they may have experienced sexual abuse, amounts to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Fear of return to Manus Island and Nauru is so acute that self-harm and attempted suicide have rapidly escalated amongst this group. Part of their fear is due to the Government’s removal of procedural fairness, which means they are held incommunicado, without phone access to lawyers, family or friends, for hours and have their personal belongings packed by detention centre officers while they wait to be removed offshore. Because the Immigration Department does not reveal who will be transferred each week, hundreds of people have heightened anxiety for days before each scheduled transfer.

Asylum seekers and refugees have legitimate fears for their safety, and the Australian Government has not implemented meaningful changes to detention conditions at Nauru or Manus Island to ensure they comply with both its own commissioned reports as well as Australia’s obligations under international law.

We call for an immediate moratorium on transfers to offshore detention centres, at least until such a time as all recommendations of the Moss Review and Cornall Report have been fully implemented, and the Australian-funded detention centres comply with minimum international standards for the treatment of the people detained there.
This statement is supported by the following organisations:
Refugee Council of Australia (statement coordinator)
A Just Cause
ADRA Australia
Amnesty International Australia
Apollo Bay Rural Australians for Refugees
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children
Australian Council For International Development
Australian Education Union
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Australian National Committee on Refugee Women
Australian Refugee Association
Ballarat Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support  Network (BRASSN)
Ballarat Community Health
Ballina Region for Refugees
Balmain for Refugees
Baptist Care Australia
Bayside Refugee and Advocacy Association
Befriend a child in Detention
Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group
B'nai B'rith Australia/New Zealand
Braidwood Rural Australians for Refugees
Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation
Brisbane Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Network (BRASS)
Buddies Refugee Support Group, Sunshine Coast
Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia
Caritas Australia
Castlemaine Rural Australians for Refugees
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Office of Justice and Peace
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Justice and Peace Office
Catholic Diocese of Darwin
Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba, Social Justice Commission
Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane
Catholic Social Services Australia
Centacare South West NSW
Centrecare (WA)
Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University
Centre for Refugee Research, University of NSW
Children's Rights International
ChildFund Australia
Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees
Combined Refugee Action Group, Geelong
Common Grace
Compassion and Justice for Refugees, South Australia
Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes in NSW
Corangamite Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children
Cyber Christian Community WA
DASSAN (Darwin Asylum Seeker Support Network)
Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands
Edmund Rice Centre Mirrabooka
Edmund Rice Centre Sydney
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Australia
Geelong Interchurch Social Justice Network
Grandmothers Against the Detention of Refugee Children
Institute of Sisters of Mercy, Australia and Papua New Guinea
Islamic Council of Victoria
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
Jesuit Social Services
Jews for Refugees
Liberty Victoria
Melbourne Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
Multicultural Services Centre of WA
NSW Council of Civil Liberties
NSW Teachers Federation
NT Council of Social Service
Oxfam Australia
Pax Christi Australia (NSW)
Plan International Australia
Presentation People's Social Justice Group, Ballina
Presentation Sisters Queensland
Presentation Sisters Western Australia
Quakers, WA Regional Meeting
Refugee Advice and Casework Service
Refugee Advocacy Network  
Refugee Advocacy Service of South Australia Inc (RASSA
Rural Australians for Refugees, Bellingen and Nambucca Districts
Rural Australians for Refugees, Daylesford and District
Rural Australians for Refugees, Armidale
Safe Asylum
Sanctuary Australia Foundation
SCALES Community Legal Centre
SCARF Inc, Illawarra
Sydney Justice and Peace Coalition
Sisters of Mercy Parramatta
Sisters of the Good Samaritans
Social Responsibilities Commission, Anglican Diocese of Perth
South Australian Refugee Health Network
South Australian Council for Civil Liberties
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia
Surf Coast Rural Australians for Refugees
Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support
The Tasmania Opportunity
Victorian Arabic Social Services
Townsville Multicultural Support Group
UNICEF Australia
Uniting Church In Australia
Victorian Council of Social Service
Victorian Council of Churches
VOICE Australia
Warrnambool Rural Australians for Refugees
Welcome to Australia
Western Region Ethnic Communities Council
Women's Health in the South East
World Vision Australia
Wyndham Community and Education Centre


Refugees thriving in Nihl Victoria

Karen people from the Thai-Myanmar border have moved into the community in Victoria's Wimmera region, keeping the job sector healthy.
From refugees camps to the streets of Nhill, the Karen people thriving in regional Victoria.
More than 100 refugees have found a home in the farming town, including Plawtapoe Ganemy-Kunoo.
"We're very blessed to be here, we're very lucky," she said.
"Many Karen people they call Australia heaven compared to other countries." 
Ms Plawtapoe Ganemy-Kunoo moved to Australia when she was seven, but only arrived in Nhill 12 months ago. 
"The community here are very friendly, tight-knit and supportive or each other," she said.
"You don't find that in a larger community."
Her story is featured in this exhibition at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. 
The photographer is Melissa Powell, who is based at Natimuk in the Wimmera.
"The image I shot of her and her husband, I really wanted to show new love in the Wimmera as it could be for anyone else, for any the locals," she said.
The refugees say they feel safe in Australia and are putting their agricultural skills to use on the region's farms. 
They are dotted around regional Victoria and also live at Horsham and Bendigo, but about half of the Karen population in Nhill work at the Luv-a-duck meat processing factory. 
The Wimmera Development Association has credited the refugees for boosting the poultry business and allowing the company to increase its production levels. 
"With the employment comes families," said the association's Jo Bourke. 
"We have a number of children at kindergarten and Karen people have become an important part of the community," 
"Apart from the economic benefit to business, it's created a quite a bit of new work so we've got 20 students at the secondary college so that supports the activities there."
The exhibition leaves Melbourne on Sunday, but the local council is pushing for the photos to go on show at Parliament House in Canberra before the end of the year.


Newsletter for 22 April 2015

Newsletter for 22 April 2015

Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi everyone

Cost of Government Secrecy

We now know that Asylum Seekers have been returned to Vietnam, and it would appear that it cost $1.4 million to do it

The Government has paid $40 million to Cambodia to accept rejected asylum seekers from Nauru - no one appears to have agreed to go.

It costs $400,000 a year to keep an asylum seeker in an offshore detention centre.

This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes. To read complete newsletter click below


Friends of Refugees trying to buy a truck

We have received this email from Ealiane Smith via the National RAR.

Elaine will be known to many of your for her tireless support of asylum seekers when she lived in Port Macquarie. She moved to Victoria to continue her work with refugees.

Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2015 11:30 PM
Subject: Friends of Refugees Emergency Relief Truck

Can you forward this to your networks please!

At the moment we are trying to buy a truck to deliver bedding, food, kitchen goods to asylum seeker families with nothing.
People are found in bare houses, cold, frightened and hungry. Unbelievable for Australia!
There are generous people who want to give necessary blankets, and food, but we need the truck to collect goods and deliver them.
We need small........ or........... large amounts of money. Whatever you can afford. I have already donated, hope you can too!!
If you are in Melbourne you may want to get involved personally as well.
Dear Elaine,
Please check out our Friends of Refugees crowd funding campaign to buy a truck . This campaign has just been "launched".  
In Australia nobody should be sleeping on cold floors or go hungry without enough food.
Please help us by donating to the campaign to raise money to buy a truck to continue our emergency relief work.
You can check out the Friends of Refugees website for more information on the services we provide for asylum seekers in need.