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newsletter for 20 May 2015 -Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi everyone - welcome to our new supporters who signed up at the Bellingen Market
Plea from National RAR
"The governments our our region have a choice: save the lives of 8,000 people or watch them die. 
Call on decision makers to step up search and rescue efforts before it’s too late."

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

Can you believe Tony Abbott's comments?
Mr Abbott said on Sunday he was not critical of efforts made by other nations to stop people smuggling in the region.
"I don't apologise in any way for the action that Australia has taken to preserve safety at sea by turning boats around where necessary," he said.
"And if other countries choose to do that, frankly that is almost certainly absolutely necessary if the scourge of people smuggling is to be beaten."
If that meant taking "more vigorous" action on the high seas or closer to Burma, so be it, he said.
This means you have to drown people to stop people drowning at sea?

Contact with asylum seeker on Manus Island
A reply has been received from one  of the refugees on Manus to a letter written last year. 

He says he is one of 200 detainees in his compound, 3 people to a room - he says  -  (“I ask myself what was my fault? and I have just an answer that is ‘came by boat’).  These men have a small gym and 1 TV for everybody. He has internet access twice a week and phone access twice a week as well.

All sounds very bleak and hopeless as the government has determined that none of these detainees will be allowed to stay in Australia.

Further correspondence has been received and is recorded on the blog see

Statistics on asylum seekers on Manus Island from article in The Australian newspaper

971 asylums seekers at the Manus Island detention centre

more than 400 have returned to their home countries

129 are deemed to be refugees but not resettled in PNG

Stall at Valla Markets Saturday 6 June 2015
Following our very successful presence at Bellingen market last weekend, we are now planning for our next market at Valla Beach on Saturday  6th June. 
As usual, we are looking for volunteers to help with the stall. If you can spare an hour or two between 8.00 am and  1.00 pm, then please let Mike know by emailing him at or phone 6569 5419.  It would be good to see some new faces, and you will enjoy the experience !

New T-shirts that are available..
and Amnesty (no asylum seekers shirts but Human rights defender and fighting the bad guys)
and John has  just found this online shop run by the Refugee Rights Action Network in WA which has a great range of T-shirts

Project Update: Friends of Refugees Emergency Relief Truck
fund raiser was included in our 15 April newsletter

"Posted by Friends of Refugees

Thank you everyone for your very generous donations to buy a truck so we can continue our emergency relief work. We have bought truck. Find attached a picture of the truck.

We have already picked up 15 fridges, 12 washing machines, TV's, numerous beds, mattresses, couches, dining tables and chairs, wardrobes, etc and have been very busy trying to catch up with a lot of pending pick ups and deliveries. 
Thank you all once again for making this happen, we have been wanting to buy a truck for over two years now and we are all really happy and relieved to see the difference it is making in our Emergency Relief program.

Refugee Council of Australia 
May 13, 2015
· The Refugee and Humanitarian Program will provide 13,750 places in 2015-16, the same number as in 2014-15 and 6,250 fewer places than in 2012-13.
· $149.5 million has been allocated for settlement services in 2015-16 and $283.1 million has been allocated to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). Additional funds have been allocated to expand the AMEP to include holders of temporary humanitarian visas for one year.
· Specific funds have been allocated to assist young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to access education and employment.
· The total costs of detention and compliance-related programs for asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat will be $2.30 billion in 2015-16.
· Overseas aid has been cut by $1 billion.

full analysis at RCOA pdf

#RefugeeWeek 14 June 2015 – 
“With courage let us all combine”
Refugee Week, coordinated by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is Australia's peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.
This year Refugee Week will be celebrated from Sunday, 14 June to Saturday 21 June, which includes World Refugee Day on 20 June.
RCOA has chosen “With courage let us all combine” as the theme for Refugee Week in Australia for 2015 to 2017. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.
More information relating to this year’s theme can be found here

Labor Party Conference in July
Recent news that may be worth commenting on, and that can be found in links in this week’s Kaldor Centre weekly newsround, is the position of the Labor Party on asylum seekers. 
Bill Shorten has signalled that there would be no weakening of Labor’s policy on asylum seekers. He refused to rule out sticking with the Coalition’s policy of turning back the boats. 
It seems that, whether the Coalition or or Labor win the next election, the cruel treatment of asylum seekers in off-shore detention will continue. The
best that one of his MPs could offer was that Labor doesn’t demonise asylum seekers and doesn’t refer to them as “illegals”.
The issue will be hotly debated at the Labor party conference in July. In the weeks ahead, it would be great if RAR members could write to NSW Labor MPs and Senators to press them to adopt a more humane approach.


National Rural Australians for Refugees - now has current news on their web site 

Blog  includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians.
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"Babies to be sent to Nauru. Our conscience should cry out" - Julian Burnside

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