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Newsletter for 15 December 2015 RAR Bello and Nambucca

Petition to the Prime Minister

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

Our latest petition, this time to our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has been sent to his office this week. We collected  830 signatures , which is a fantastic result. Many thanks are due to both the volunteers on our market stalls who worked so hard to get people to sign up, and also to RAR members in other part of Australia who collected hundreds of signatures from far and wide on our behalf. We believe that our petitions are a really important aspect of our campaigning, as each signature represents  a conversation with a member of the public about the plight of asylum seekers, and helps significantly in getting the message across about the government’s cruel and inhumane policy.
The letter which accompanied the petitions to the Prime Minister is set out below. We have to continue to hope that the relentless pressure from groups like ours will eventually result in a change of policy.
We have no intention of giving up until it does and we look forward to your continuing support in 2016.

Dear Mr Turnbull,
Please find enclosed the details of the  830 people who have recently signed the petition organised by the Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees. The petition reads:
"We, the undersigned, call on the Australian government to urgently review its asylum seeker policy. Specifically, we urge the government:        
  • to take the necessary steps to close the offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru as a matter of urgency.
  •   to resettle in Australia all asylum seekers who are found to be entitled to protection under international law.

In the meantime, we urge the government to end the secrecy surrounding the  operation of the centres and to allow reasonable access by UN agencies, relevant NGOs and journalists." 
We are two relatively small communities,  but the support for our campaign to seek an end to the cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru grows stronger by the day. We have long since lost count of the number  of  people who tell us that they feel ashamed to be Australian. They are angry and ashamed that our government continues to punish these vulnerable and traumatised people, who have committed no crime and who have a right to our protection under international law. We utterly reject the government's recent assertion that, as the gates of the Nauru detention centre are now open, these asylum seekers are now "free" and that life has somehow changed for them. Life has not changed for them in any significant way, and it is disingenuous of the government to assert otherwise. These people live in an open prison, in unacceptable conditions, from which there is no escape, and they have been offered  no hope for the future. 
We urge you to do the right thing and to make a serious commitment to bringing this shameful situation to an end in the months ahead. We would, of course, be happy to meet with you or one of your senior colleagues if you are planning to visit the Mid North Coast in the near future. 
                                                                                                Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                 Mike Griffin
                                                                        Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR
Letters to Luke Hartsuyker
It’s not too late to write to our local MP Luke Harksuyker to ask him to support the amendments to the Migration Act which were passed in the Senate recently. It was thought that the amendments would have been considered by the House of Representatives before the Christmas recess, but this didn’t happen. If you could write just a few lines to :, encouraging him to support the amendments , which would result in the freeing of children from immigration detention on the mainland, that would be great. There are a number of letters, set out on the blog, and instructions on how to use the index at the top   which you could use as a guide. It really is very easy, and it would make a big impact if lots of us could write to our MP.

Letters to the local press also have an impact, and several of our supporters have written in recent weeks to the Guardian News and to the Coffs Coast Advocate. You can read these letters on the blog using the index  .
Christmas Break
This is our final newsletter for 2015. Those of you who have been on our supporters’ list for the whole of 2015 will be aware that we have published a newsletter every single week of the year, in a bid to keep the asylum seeker issues alive and up to date . A huge thank you to David Wallin who has worked so assiduously to put the newsletter together each week and to send it out to our growing list of supporters. We have doubled the number of supporters during the year, and there are now more than 370 of you out there! We hope that you will stay with us in 2016 and that you will continue to support our work in whatever way appeals to you. Our first newsletter of 2016 will be sent to you on Tuesday  12th January.
We hope that you will all enjoy the holiday, and that you will continue to think of the plight of our refugees and asylum seekers, for whom Christmas will be as bleak and hopeless as ever. Let’s hope that the New Year will see the beginnings of a more humane policy on the part of the government and the opposition.

Meeting to discuss future of Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts group
The event will take place on Sunday 21st February 2016, starting at midday with a meeting to discuss progress and strategy, followed at 1.00 pm by lunch. Please put the date in your diary. Further details will be circulated nearer the time.
Market dates for 2016
We have put together the dates for our market stalls for 2016 in Bellingen, Valla Beach and Coffs Harbour.  The markets at Bellingen and Valla Beach are on Saturdays, whilst the Coffs Harbourside markets are on Sundays. You might like to note the dates on your calendar. There will of course be reminders in advance of each of the markets to encourage attendance and to ask for helpers on the stall. This year more than 20 supporters have given some time to supporting our RAR stall. You might want to think about joining us from time to time in 2016.
16th January:  Bellingen
6th Feb:  Valla Beach
19th March: Bellingen
2nd April: Valla Beach
24th April: Coffs harbour
21st May: Bellingen
4th June: Valla Beach
26th June: Coffs harbour
16th July: Bellingen
6th August: Valla Beach
28th August: Coffs Harbour
17th September: Bellingen
1st October: Valla Beach
23rd October: Coffs Harbour
19th November: Bellingen
3rd December: Valla Beach
Response to donations to Chilout
Our sincerest thanks to you and Bellingen Nambucca RAR for this donation and for your continued support throughout 2015! Your support and dedication throughout the year has been absolutely fantastic. Your donations throughout the year will go a long way to allowing us to continue our fight in 2016 to have all children released from detention. We are extremely grateful for supporters like you and Bellingen Nambucca RAR who help to inspire us to continue working for this cause. We hope you continue to support us in 2016! Best regards, Claire Claire Hammerton Campaign Coordinator ChilOut m: 0487 577 034 e: w:
Crikey article on $20 million cost of charter flights and budget information for Nauru and Manus Island
Just imagine how that money could be spent to improve life in Australia!

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

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check out the index of subjects on the blog
the draft newsletter for next week is on the blog see tab at top and will be sent to 380 recipients
Mission statement for our group has been renamed "who are we?" and can be read at
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