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Free the children - Marlene Griffin

Dear Mr Hartsuyker,

This weekend’s edition of the  SMH features an appeal by  faith leader to all parliamentarians , calling on you, as our representatives, to release children and their families from immigration detentionThere is irrefutable evidence that detaining children for prolonged periods is detrimental to their mental and physical wellbeing.  We need to take concrete steps to bring this shameful episode in Australian politics to an end.

It is also time to close offshore detention facilities. There is a tide of public opinion in favour of this after the appalling conditions and treatment regimes on Nauru and Manus have become increasingly apparent to the general public in recent months. The financial cost of these policies to us as a nation is also influencing public opinion. The present government is finding itself out on a limb on these issues here at home and also in the international political arena. The world has a massive refugee crisis on its hands and  international cooperation is required to address this . 

The policies of the previous Abbott government have not ‘stopped any boats’ . The boats have simply been diverted elsewhere . There is a massive tide of displaced and desperate refugees arriving in Greece , Germany and other parts of Europe every day . It is a travesty to say we have ‘stopped the boats’. Desperate refugees fleeing persecution  are travelling by boat and as International News reports reveal  there is a massive loss of life from these boats on a daily basis. The time for self interested isolation is long gone. Australia must become part of the solution to all this and move from political posturing to meaningful engagement in humanitarian policies. 

I urge you to vote in favour of the appeal by faith leaders  when the Senate’s amendments to the Migration and Maritime Powers Amendment Bill comes before parliament.

Yours sincerely,
Marlene Griffin

Free the children - Mike Griffin

From: Mike
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2015 2:34 PM
Subject: Children in detention

Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
In today’s SMH,  faith leaders have published an open letter to all parliamentarians , calling on you, as our representatives, to release children and their families from immigration detention. These vulnerable people deserve the gift of freedom. I stand with the faith leaders and urge you to do the right thing when the Senate’s amendments to the Migration and Maritime Powers Amendment Bill comes before parliament.
The government should, of course, go further, and commit to the closure of offshore detention centres. Many of the 95 children currently languishing in indefinite detention on Nauru have been there for more than two years. This is utterly disgraceful, morally indefensible and  in contravention of our international obligations. There is irrefutable evidence that detaining children  for prolonged periods is detrimental to their mental and physical wellbeing.  Now would be a good time, as we approach Christmas, to acknowledge the damage caused by the policies pursued by governments of different persuasions in recent years, and to take concrete steps to bring this shameful episode to an end.
Yours sincerely,
Mike Griffin


No Business in Abuse campaign extended

No Business in Abuse is launching a massive community campaign aimed at the corporations like Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield Services), who are paid billions to do the government’s dirty work in running Australia’s offshore and onshore detention centres.

We wanted to reach out today to tell you about this new effort, and offer you the chance to use your expertise to lead a local campaign. You can check out the campaign here:

The starting point for the campaign is the fact the corporations that provide services essential to Australia’s detention regime (like Broadspectrum and Wilson Security) don’t just do detention. To run a profitable business, they also rely on contracts with institutions - like councils, hospitals and schools.

As a community, we have the power to call on these institutions to take a principled stance in defence of human rights by refusing to contract with Broadspectrum and others while they continue their business in abuse. This way, the choice of corporations to be complicit in human rights abuses has immediate consequences right where it hurts - their bottom line.

Where do we start? With local councils

For our first step NBIA is targeting local councils across Australia - asking each council to take a principled stance in defence of the human rights of people seeking asylum, and declare that they will not engage with corporations who profit from abuse. Everybody has a local council, and everybody can join in with this campaign.

How will the campaign be run? As a community campaign driven by activists with support from NBIA

The best campaigns support activists to do what they do best - make change in their communities. To this end, we are launching this campaign on a digital platform called Community Run (powered by GetUp), which is specifically designed to support decentralised, individual campaigns in each council area, and contains all the information activists might need to get started. NBIA will support and amplify all the community campaigns.

Tomorrow, we will be emailing the tens of thousands of people who support NBIA and invite them to either lead, or join a community campaign in their local council area.

What can you do? Lead a campaign

As longstanding activists for the rights of people seeking asylum in Australia, we need your skills and experience in community campaigning to make this a success. Before we go public tomorrow we are asking for your help first – will you sign up to lead a campaign in your local council area?

What does leading a campaign require? Doing what you probably do already - being an activist.

Leading a No (local council) Business in Abuse campaign means:
  • Taking charge of a local campaign that's part of a bigger effort
  • Reaching out to local media and government representatives
  • Gathering petition signatures through online networks and on the streets
  • Emailing your supporters to keep them updated and asking them to get involved in other ways, like the delivery of the petition to your local government target

As experienced activists, you probably have many more ideas about how to run a local campaign too, and please feel free to lead a local campaign in a way that makes sense to you and your community.

What if you just aren’t up for leading anything right now?
If there’s already a leader in your council area, or you don’t feel up to leading a local campaign, feel free to just sign on to the existing petition – you can always email your leader if you’d like to further involved in some way. 

We also acknowledge that some of you work for organisations that may not be able to be seen to be actively involved in a campaign, and that's fine. We'll let you decide whether you want to support the campaigns in your personal capacity .

Feel free to pass this email to anyone  in your network that you think will be interested, but if you want to lead, make sure you register in the next 24 hours as we’ll be going out to the wider list of supporters Thursday midday!

Thanks for your ongoing interest and support in the No Business in Abuse campaign.

We have a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who will be on hand to provide support, trouble shoot and deliver trainings. If you have any queries or concerns, please email us on

For more information about the No Business in Abuse campaign, visit our website,

For more our leaders’ toolkit, check out

For anything else, please get in touch!

Kind Regards,
Matt and Aurora
PS: Community Run is a GetUp run website, so by signing a petition you will automatically become a GetUp member, meaning you’ll receive emails about NBIA and other GetUp campaigns. You can opt out of this easily by clicking the unsubscribe from GetUp link in your thank you email, but will remain involved in your local council campaign.

PPS: If you'd like to be taken off the list of people and organisations we contact about campaign developments, feel free to send me an email saying so and I'll remove you from our database.

Matt Phillips  
Community Campaigner | No Business in Abuse  | GetUp!
M  0408 541 717  mrcp1979 A 48 Easey Street, Collingwood, VIC 3066

Protest outside Luke Hartsuykers office 27 November 2015

Report on last protest of the year in front of Luke Hartsuykers Office

Great turn out for our last protest of the year in front of Luke Hartsuyker's office. We are taking a break to regroup for next year and will let you all know our plans soon. Unfortunately the asylum seekers illegally detained on Manus, Nauru and Christmas Islands are not so fortunate so please keep up the letters to our MP's and newspapers and keep the pressure on..Thanks to Kim and the crew at the Happy Frog for your continued support...more power to the good people in our community!!

write to Luke Hartsuyker demanding release of Children from Detention

Church leaders call on parliamentarians to free children from detention

At the weekend, church leaders took out a half-page ad in the Sydney Morning Herald, calling on Parliament  to pass the legislation, agreed by the Senate a week ago, which would result in children and their families being released from mainland detention centres. It is possible that the legislation will be considered this week.  The open letter to all members of the Federal parliament states: “During this time of preparation for Christmas and the season of giving, we call on parliamentarians to give the gift of freedom to these children and their families.” The letter also calls on all Australians of goodwill (that’s all of us!), to contact our local MP to ask them to vote for the release of children and their families. Let’s all do that!
For most of us, our local MP is Luke Hartsuyker. His email address is:  A short email, simply urging him to vote in favour of the legislation to release children and their families from detention, is all that is required. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our MP were to receive 370 emails urging him to do the right thing!
Please note that the proposed legislation does not include asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru.

Mike's email below

Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
In today’s SMH,  faith leaders have published an open letter to all parliamentarians , calling on you, as our representatives, to release children and their families from immigration detention. These vulnerable people deserve the gift of freedom. I stand with the faith leaders and urge you to do the right thing when the Senate’s amendments to the Migration and Maritime Powers Amendment Bill comes before parliament.
The government should, of course, go further, and commit to the closure of offshore detention centres. Many of the 95 children currently languishing in indefinite detention on Nauru have been there for more than two years. This is utterly disgraceful, morally indefensible and  in contravention of our international obligations. There is irrefutable evidence that detaining children  for prolonged periods is detrimental to their mental and physical wellbeing.  Now would be a good time, as we approach Christmas, to acknowledge the damage caused by the policies pursued by governments of different persuasions in recent years, and to take concrete steps to bring this shameful episode to an end.
Yours sincerely,


UN Chief rebukes detention policy SMH 24 November 2015

UN's Ban Ki-moon urges Australia to rethink refugee policy in extraordinary rebuke

Nicole Hasham

Environment and immigration correspondent 

The world's top diplomat has issued an extraordinary plea to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over Australia's asylum seeker policy, voicing unease over offshore detention and urging him to reconsider the nation's entire border protection regime.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Mr Turnbull on the margins of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur last week, trading his usual soft diplomacy for stronger language when discussing refugees and migrants in the Asia-Pacific region.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo: Mary Altaffer
In a statement, the United Nations said Mr Ban "expressed concern over the detention conditions in Australia's offshore processing centres" and encouraged Mr Turnbull to "reconsider" Operation Sovereign Borders, Australia's military-led regime to combat people smuggling and oversee borders.
Counter-terrorism dominated talks at the 18-nation summit, one of a string of international meetings attended by Mr Turnbull less than three months into the job. 
It came as the Australian navy turned away a suspected asylum seeker boat from Christmas Island on Friday, and as Australia prepares to accept 12,000 refugees fleeing devastation in Syria.
A self-portrait from a child in an offshore detention centre.
Aself-portrait from a child in an offshore detention centre. Photo: Supplied
The UN statement said Mr Ban acknowledged Australia's longstanding commitment to refugee resettlement, but appealed to Mr Turnbull to "share responsibilities".
The pair reportedly discussed problems in Syria and Iraq and exchanged views on preventing violent extremism.
"The Secretary-General indicated that he is preparing a comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism for presentation to the General Assembly in the beginning of 2016, and looked forward to the support of Australia," the statement said.
It is understood the language used in the United Nations statement is stronger than that Mr Ban used personally when speaking to Mr Turnbull.
Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, Mr Turnbull said recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Bamako had focused attention on how to counter violent extremism.
"We are intensifying our co-operation on counter terrorism with all of our partners in the region. Sharing intelligence, of course, is of critical importance," he said, adding that countering terrorist messaging on social media was also a high priority.
Mr Ban and Mr Turnbull also discussed climate change and negotiations ahead of global climate talks in Paris later this month.
Mr Ban "encouraged Australia to lead efforts to ensure a low-carbon, climate-resilient future," the UN statement said.
Meantime, the Senate on Monday passed a bill to remove all children from onshore detention by Christmas. 
The Migration and Maritime Powers Amendment Bill (No.1) will now return to the lower house.
The amendments proposed by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young were passed with the support of Labor and crossbenchers.
Other passed amendments included opening detention centres to media scrutiny, mandatory reporting of abuse and reversing law changes that punish staff for speaking out about conditions in detention.
Senator Hanson-Young said Mr Turnbull must now decide whether to "reverse the will of the Senate and the people just so that he can keep children locked up in detention?"
"These children have had their childhood taken from them ... at least now they can have a real Christmas," she said.


Newsletter for 24 November RAR Bello and Nambucca Districts

National RAR

Some much needed good news -

Julian Burnside has agreed to be Patron for Rural Australians for Refugees - see more at -

Rural Australians for Refugees
P: (03) 5448 5479   M: 0417 313 037  E:

Next picket outside Luke Hartsuyker's office THIS Thursday 26 November 2015
This will be our final picket/protest outside Luke Hartsuyker's office for this year so help us to make it a big one. 11.30 to 1pm Little Street Coffs Harbour, then lunch at the The Happy Frog just around the corner. Bring your placards and help us to keep up the pressure on the government.
This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes - to read the newsletter click below


Hope and tears in equal measure inside a Sytian Refugee Camp

Hope and tears in equal measure inside a Syrian refugee camp Sun Herald 22 November 2015
November 22, 2015

Peter Holmes a Court

She smiles; but she is not OK.

She smiles because she is a young girl with hope, who has been promised that things are going to get better.

Soriya is a bright-eyed, nine-year-old girl who, on the eve of the destruction of her village by the henchmen of ISIS, fled Syria with her family and has found refuge in the Shatila camp near the Eastern border of Lebanon.

Families remain trapped in the no-man's land of the refugee camps.

Her toothy smile erupted as soon as the foreign visitors entered the room. The group was all that anyone had been talking about for days. They were bringing a photographer – an American, which is still seen as particularly exciting – to meet the family. She was going to hear their story. Perhaps, by it being told, it would help things.

The photographer is my wife, Alissa Everett, who was there on assignment for the Global Fund for Women. I tagged along to try to better understand the humanitarian crisis that is spinning outwards from Damascus

I came here because I am Australian by birth; in the boots I wear and in the teams I support. But I have grown embarrassed by my country's policy on refugees. I am shocked that we've attempted to "turn back the boats," as if putting up your own personal umbrella stops the rain. I am ashamed and saddened that we process refugees in offshore centres of interrogation and humiliation. Most of all, I am embarrassed that I once thought that was a reasonable thing to do.

The refugee camp in Beirut.

Alissa enters the room with a calm and respect that comes from knowing these conditions well. Too well, she'd say. She's is a veteran of conflict and post-conflict zones. She's photographed the short, bright flashes of war – the moment the cannon recoils, the instant the chopper fires into the village – but increasingly she covers the long and intractable conundrums that are the people impacted by war, the tented condition that is the endless plight of the displaced. These are the internally displaced camps and the refugee camps that are "camps" only in reference to the temporary materials used to house the increasingly permanent residents.

No matter how many you've been inside, or what conditions you find people living under, how dangerous, how tenuous, it's the smiles on the children that get you, Alissa says. They are not coerced, presented just for the camera or lured by the promise of lollies. The photos are not a poster print for a fund-raising campaign, but an authentic expression of youthful enthusiasm and hope. Grateful that you are there, hoping that it means things really are going to get better. Perhaps you are the proof, the physical manifestation that people do care, when days, weeks and months suggest the opposite.

Compared to some of the children in the camp, Soriya's grin is a recent muscle memory. Her family knew better times not so long ago. Perhaps the memories that make it hard for adults to find comfort are easier for the children to cling onto. Just six months ago they had a house, two jobs, schools to send their children to. Then their village fell inside the nebulous borders of the world's newest caliphate. It's harder for them to imagine what a flattened village looks like. Or to wonder what job prospects remain for their father when the entire supply chain of the industry in which he had worked is in a billion pieces. Nobody will mention it, but it is incomprehensible that a third of their classmates lie buried under Syrian soil.

Inside the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon.

A second cup of tea is served, Soriya and her sisters observe from a careful distance.The adults talk in darker tones, as a translator turns their sentences into incomprehensible words that the visitors seem to understand. The visitor takes notes, and sometimes the camera clicks. Somebody is crying now, an adult. They get a hug from a visitor. Now somebody is laughing, and then everyone is laughing.

None of this is missed by Soriya or her three sisters. They watch everything.

What Soriya feels about the visit is easy to read. Her face flushes with its emotions, a rolling display of surprise, joy, turning to concern and fear when the adults cry and then, when the laughter returns, relief, sweet relief, joy and more joy. It's all there to see, spread across her face.

Alissa Everett travelled to the region on assignment for the Global Fund for Women.
Alissa Everett travelled to the region on assignment for the Global Fund for Women. Photo: Alissa Everett
She smiles, and a photo is taken. The big camera is turned around, and Soriya sees her own smile in the display, and somehow her grin finds another notch to wind upwards.

Alissa has travelled through the Middle East and North Africa over the past two years documenting the families who remain trapped in the no-man's-land of refugee camps in the countries that border Syria. Here in the capital of Beirut, we see one part of this crisis. Turkey (where we were last month) is different, Jordan different again. As much wealthier and much larger nations debate their appetite to resettle hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of refugees Lebanon has no such luxury. Certain states of the US are refusing to take a single refugee.

Yet Lebanon, already one of the world's most densely populated countries, with a population of about five million, is sheltering well over a million people like Soriya and her family.

This 20 per cent impact on population compares to even the most open hearted European nations where no country is approaching 0.2 per cent.

Frankly, Lebanon deserves some sort of award for its peacefulness. Somehow juggling four main cultural groups. Today it has so much to recommend it: it is the Middle East's most multicultural society, most tolerant political system, and it had been enjoying an extended building-led boom in the 25 years since it ended its own bloody (stupid) civil war. Any traveller who has come of their own fruition will tell you its people are warm and inviting and its food is awesome.

Physically constrained on the west by the Mediterranean, Lebanon is effectively an enclave inside a war zone. To its south lies the perma-battle of Israel and Palestine, which in conflict terms is a grandparent compared to the terrible toddler that is the conflict in Syria, which is erupting along its eastern and northern borders.

I've come here because I was shamefully ignorant. Until recently I'd never been this close to the "action" as it is misnamed; action is what you hope for at football games, tragedy is what is inevitable when guns are drawn.

And while I've studied the Middle East, coming here first in 1988 to the University of Cairo, this conflict was way too hard for me to understand. Or rather, it was way too easy to just hope it would go away before I'd have to wade in and try to understand it. But it isn't going away. I came here because, until recently, I came from a country whose ex-prime minister said, without a wink, that this was a conflict of "baddies versus baddies". When I saw the bodies of children I wondered how Tony Abbott, an economic migrant to Australia himself, could be talking about them.

The Syrian mess involves a clash between 21st century dictatorial repression (certainly could be called a baddie) and 9th century religious fundamentalists (Wikipedia's definition of baddies), but it's a simplification to the point of irresponsibility to describe the conflict as this.

People like Soriya and her family fall in neither of the categories above, yet they are very much part of this conflict.

And if you need to look for "baddies" to blame, we might wish to tag those who left behind the military detritus from the unfinished campaigns of Iraq wars and those who, as of last month, have cranked up a fully-blown reheating of the Cold War.

Need any more baddies? What about borders drawn with all the sensitivity of retreating colonial overlords? Or the post-WWII exercise in human relocation without local consultation – the reshaped Israel.

And in the basket of collective responsibility, what about our responsibility for the climate gyrations? There is no question (from anyone inside Syria) that the conflict would not have happened (at least now) had not the region experienced the biggest drought in recorded history. And they invented recording history not far from here.

The girls who are now playing with the contents of Alissa's camera bag are not baddies yet the conflict we collectively created is their life. Sitting here, it's hard not to feel these children are now our children. It's impossible to not feel a responsibility. If we all live in a global village, then our sewerage has been piped through their part of town.

More tea is poured, final photos are taken. Soriya climbs onto Alissa's lap. Her parents ask questions about her younger sister who is having worsening seizures. It's worrying her parents a lot. As the children can see this, they are sent out to play in the "street" below.

The streets are no more than thin alleys that connect one temporary structure to another. Soriya and her sisters kick balls and organise chasing games in the shadow of an overhead web of wires and pipes that deliver electricity and water. Many stories are told of a kicked ball that sent a twisting web of deadly spaghetti down upon the children. Death by electrocution seems an ironic end, particularly as some of the refugees come from villages that are yet to see power and Lebanon's grid only delivers power for two thirds of any day.

Soriya and her sisters attend makeshift schools, parents and NGO's doing their best to occupy young minds, continue some semblance of development for those new to the already over-crowded school districts. Local schools have taken to running in shifts, Lebanese kids until 2pm; refugee kids until after dark. Soriya attends when she can, but the adults know it is more likely that most of her female peers will attend their wedding celebration long before any school graduation. With simply no other way to feed their daughters, many parents accept that the aged lothario knocking on the door might be better than starvation's wolf.

The children return, the visiting party must move on. Alissa repacks her camera bag and walks to the street, down the four flights of metal stairs that are attached by thin welds to the combination of sea containers and the protruding rebar of thinly poured concrete.

Only now does Soriya start to cry. In the confusion of all the adults hugging and pressing kisses, she's missed her chance to see Alissa. As the group stands on the street below, her father calls out and comes running down, the staircase leaning out as he rounds each corner, young Soriya on his hip.

She wraps Alissa with arms, wets her face with tears, and is soon smiling again.

But she's not OK, because the future holds only uncertainty, and this is what you can feel in her body when you hold her tightly.

Some names and locations have been changed to protect the subjects.

Alissa Everett travelled to Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt with the Global Fund for Women whose work supports women in grassroots initiatives and advocates for women's rights internationally. She travelled to Jordan with UNICEF. Peter Holmes à Court funded his own travel and carried a lot of bags.


Julian Burnside - patron for Rural Australians for Refugees

Some much needed good news -

Julian Burnside has agreed to be Patron for Rural Australians for Refugees - see more at -


Rural Australians for Refugees
P: (03) 5448 5479   M: 0417 313 037  E:


Asylum Seeker Boat reached Christmas Island undetected 20 November 2015

Asylum seeker boat reported to have come within 200m of Christmas Island
The boat appears to approached Flying Fish Cove in the early hours of the morning before being intercepted by Australian officials

Flying Fish cove on Christmas Island. An asylum seeker boat reportedly came within 200m of the harbour on Friday morning. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Friday 20 November 2015 11.57 AEDT

A boat reportedly carrying asylum seekers was intercepted close to Christmas Island on Friday, the first to reach Australian waters since June 2014.

The boat made it within 200m of Flying Fish Cove before it was boarded by Australian officials, sources on the island told Guardian Australia.
It is unclear whether the boat was intercepted by Australian navy or Border Force staff.

Closed doors and troubled minds: the anguish of Christmas Island's detention centre
Read more

Those on board were given life jackets. The boat was moved further away from the island and covered in a tarpaulin so the arrivals cannot be counted or identified, the sources said.
It is the first boat to reach Australian waters since June last year, when 157 Sri Lankan Tamils were intercepted about 300km from the island. They were held on board for a month and, after negotiations to send them back to India broke down, transferred to immigration detention in Nauru.
Australia claims to have “turned back” 20 boats since Operation Sovereign Borders began in late 2013. Boats have been forcibly sent back to Indonesia and Sri Lanka, some crashing on reefs and requiring rescue.
In May at least one boat returned to Indonesia after the crew was paid by Australian government officials, according to an investigation by Amnesty International. The immigration department has not denied paying the people smugglers, but maintained it had acted within international law at all times.
The Greens immigration spokeswoman, senator Sarah Hanson-Young, called on the government to let the boat land safely and unload its passengers.
“The safest thing to do now is to let these people land on Christmas Island and find out who they are,” she said.
“It’s clear that, despite the government’s repeated claims, the boats haven’t stopped.”
An immigration detention centre has operated on the Australian territory since 2001. Its population has changed in the past months to include fewer asylum seekers and more “501s” – migrants whose visas have been cancelled and who face imminent deportation.
At 14 November, the detention facility on the island was home to 199 detainees, 113 of whom, according to the Australian government, had criminal convictions.
The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed on Friday that 12 New Zealanders had been deported from the facility after riots broke out earlier this month, following the death of an Iranian asylum seeker.

The department of immigration has been contacted for comment on the latest asylum boat.


Man Monis ( Lindt Cafe killer) not a boat person - arrived by air in 1996 on a business Visa

Multiple failures left wife-beater Man Haron Monis free to seize Lindt cafe

A review of Man Haron Monis' interaction with authorities was generous to conclude that, despite multiple failures, government agencies' actions were reasonable.
Flowers left as a mark of respect near the site where Monis took 18 people hostage during the fatal siege.
Flowers left as a mark of respect near the site where Monis took 18 people hostage during the fatal siege. Photo: Joosep Martinson
Here's a little quiz question you won't find in the entertainment pages of your magazine: 
Under which visa did Man Haron Monis enter Australia?
a) a business visa; b) a study visa; c) a tourism visa; d) a refugee visa; or e) a protection visa.
Answer: Monis arrived in Sydney on a 456 Business (Short Stay) Visa onOctober 28, 1996.
Monis wasn't one of those unwelcome boat people. He flew into Sydney airport with the support of the Australian Trade Commission, Austrade.
But within a month of his arrival he was seeking asylum and, in succession, was granted a bridging visa, a protection visa and ultimately Australian citizenship.


Newsletter for 17 November 2015 - RAR Bello and Nambucca

NO RAR stall at Bellingen Market, THIS Saturday 21st November

It has not been possible to book a stall at the Bellingen Markets, because it is full.

New information sheets had been prepared for the market and are below

This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes to read the newsletter click below


Information on Children in Detention

Children in Detention How many children are in Australian detention centres?
As of 31 March 2015 there are 1,509 children in detention, with 227 in immigration detention facilities (on the Australian mainland and on Nauru), and 1,282 in community detention.
 Are children being sent to Nauru and Manus Island Processing Centres? The Government has confirmed that there are 103 children in the immigration detention centre on Nauru. Children and women are no longer being detained on Manus Island, however there have been cases of unaccompanied minors being mistakenly sent to Manus – it is possible that children were present during the violence in 2014 that resulted in the murder of Reza Barati. The detention centre on Nauru is an extremely dangerous and unsuitable environment for children. The independent Moss Report released in March 2015 revealed reports of rape within the centre, and numerous “reported and unreported allegations of sexual and other physical assault” of both children and adults. Former psychiatrists and social workers who worked on Nauru have since released an open letter stating that the Australian Government was aware of cases of sexual assault against women and children for 17 months but failed to act. The signatories have called for a Royal Commission into the abuse, and the immediate transfer of all asylum seekers to Australia from Nauru to ensure their safety.
 What is the history of children in detention? In 2005 the Australian Migration Act was amended to include the principle that children should only be detained “as a measure of last resort” as reflected in article 37(b) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In accordance with this policy, the Howard government removed children and families from detention and set up community detention arrangements instead. Under these arrangements NGOs were funded “to source appropriate housing, the payment of living expenses, and to ensure access to relevant health and community services and social support networks are provided”.  In 2008, Labor introduced the “New Directions” policy, stating their intentions to limit the use of detention and to ensure that “no child is held behind razor wire” under the Rudd government.  In October 2010, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that asylum seeker children and families would be moved to community detention, with priority given to unaccompanied minors and particularly vulnerable families.
Despite this successive governments have continued to detain children, although numbers have fluctuated. In 2014 the current Coalition government released 150 children from detention, but the measures did not apply to those children detained on Nauru. Indeed, the government has continued to transfer children to Nauru in 2015. Further, although numbers of children in detention have recently decreased, the duration children spend in detention has significantly increased. This is of concern because it has been well established that the longer children are held in detention centres, the greater the possibility is that they will suffer psychological harm. Given the high rates of mental and physical harm that results from detention, it is evident that no children should be detained.
 What impact does detention have on children? In 2014 the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) conducted an inquiry into children in detention, the results of which “demonstrated unequivocally that prolonged detention of children leads to serious negative impact on their mental and emotional health and development.” Overall, 85% of parents and children indicated their mental health was negatively affected while in detention, with 30% of those children described as ‘always sad’ and 25% as ‘always worried’. Children on Nauru were found to be suffering extreme levels of physical, emotional and psychological distress.  Since the release of the AHRC’s report many paediatricians and health care providers have come forward to confirm the report’s findings on the basis of their experience working with detained children. They state that “behavioural issues, poor appetite, sleep problems, developmental problems, irritability, anxiety, sadness and nightmares are so common they are considered typical and are expected by parents.” The development of bed-wetting problems while in detention is also common. In addition many children have missed months of school. Ultimately, the AHRC inquiry found the detention environment to be profoundly unsafe for children. There have been hundreds of instances of assault involving children, incidents of self-harm, and numerous reports of sexual assault. The AHRC’s report states that the “laws, policies and practices of Labor and Coalition Governments are in serious breach of the rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
 Why is community processing the best method? The application process for asylum seekers is long, with most of those in immigration detention facing a wait of over six months for their first decision.  As already discussed, indefinite detention is traumatic, especially given that asylum seekers often flee war-torn countries and situations of torture and trauma. Community-based processing is the most reasonable, humane and cost effective approach for supporting asylum seekers while their claim for protection is assessed. If health and security checks are necessary, people should be held in accommodation for the shortest possible period and only as a last resort. The conditions should be humane and include freedom of movement, protection of the family unit, ensuring the best interests of the child and access to legal assistance. Children however, should be checked and cleared immediately.
 Edited version of original publication by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Last updated April 2015