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Newsletter for 20 December 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Donations Report
Meeting with Luke Hartsuyker MP
Market dates for 2017
Christmas break

Donations in 2016

A focus of our efforts during 2016 has been to raise funds for refugee charities.  A combination of sales at our markets, donations from market goers and the highly successful piano recital by Simon Tedeschi has resulted in donations to charities of $5,520, which is a great outcome. We donated the money to ChilOut ($2,870), to the Refugee  Advice and Casework Service ($2,000) and to our current charity, the Asylum Seekers Centre ($650). We currently have a balance in our account of $1,000.
Meeting with Luke Hartsuyker MP

We have recently received a response from Luke Hartsuyker’s diary secretary, who has indicated the our elected representative will see a delegation of four of our members in late January/early February. We hope to get a definite slot in his calendar early in the New Year.
Market dates for 2017

We have finalised the dates for next year’s markets, so you can now write them in your new calendars! We have had great support from members in 2016, and we are sure that will continue next year. It would be great to see some new faces from time to time, so we hope that more members will consider participating.The dates are as follows:

21st January: Bellingen
4th February: Valla Beach
26th February: Coffs Harbour
18th March: Bellingen
1st April: Valla Beach
24th April: Coffs Harbour
20th May: Bellingen
3rd June: Valla Beach
25th June: Coffs Harbour
15th July: Bellingen
5th August: Valla Beach
27th August: Coffs Harbour
16th September: Bellingen
7th October: Valla Beach
18th November: Bellingen
2nd December: Valla Beach.

Christmas break

We will be taking a break over Christmas and so won't be filling up your in-box over the next few weeks. But we will be back in 2017 with emails, petitions, market stalls and roadside demonstrations with the aim of informing public opinion and changing government policy. So have a safe and happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Check out the index of subjects on our blog 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to 453 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

The National RAR web site is at 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Newsletter for 13 December 2016 Rural Australians Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside demonstration report
Donations to refugee charities
Contacting Luke Hartsuyker MP

Roadside demonstration report

We held our final roadside demo of 2016 in Coffs Harbour last week, and everyone present –there were nine of us – agreed that it was a great success. We received overwhelming support from passing motorists, who, like the market-goers, seem to appreciate that there are people in our community who will not turn their backs on refugees, and who will continue to advocate for a compassionate solution to the problem.  It is sad that, as we approach Christmas, there are still hundreds of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus who will be spending their fourth Christmas in these terrible places. We will maintain our efforts in 2017 to work towards a solution for our refugees.
Donations to refugee charities

From time to time people ask us about refugee charities, because they want to make a donation. We are currently supporting the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown, and sent them a donation of $200 last week, making the total $650 since we began supporting them earlier in the year. The ASC provides a wide range of services to refugees and is heavily reliant on donations, since government funding has been drastically reduced, at a time when the need for assistance has grown enormously.  The support provided includes legal services, health care, employment assistance services, English language training, food bank and daily meals, family support, emergency accommodation, and much besides. You can contact them at:
Another major refugee charity is the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which is Australia’s largest independent refugee and asylum seeker organisation, which, like the ASC, delivers a wide range of services for asylum seekers and refugees.  You can contact them at:
Contacting Luke Hartsuyker MP

We have been in touch with Mr Hartsuyker’s office twice in the past week in an effort to make an appointment to see him and to present him with our petition. At the time of writing, we are still awaiting a response from his diary manager.
In the meantime, all our supporters living in the Cowper electorate will have received a communication from Mr Hartsuyker in recent days, which includes an invitation to complete a survey of voters’ concerns. The survey includes a section entitled “Our Nation” and asks the question: “What is the one issue that concerns you the most about the state of our nation?” Please consider answering this question along the lines of “My deepest concern is the government’s appalling treatment of refugees and asylum seekers” or something similar, and sending your reply to: Luke Hartsuyker, Reply Paid 2056, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450. It will only take a moment, and costs nothing. Give it a go!

Check out the index of subjects on our blog 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to 453 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

The National RAR web site is at 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Newsletter for 6 December 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Valla Beach market report
Roadside demonstration - Coffs Harbour Thursday 8th Dec
Petition to Luke Hartsuyker
Christmas break

Valla Beach market report

We had another great market on Saturday at Valla Beach under warm sunny skies.  There were nine of us at various times during the morning, and we were busy the whole time, getting people to sign the petition and engaging in discussion about asylum seeker issues. As always, the support from market-goers was overwhelmingly positive, though inevitably from time to time we encounter people with very entrenched, sometimes extreme views. It was pretty shocking to listen to one passer by who argued that it is a good thing to bomb hospitals in Aleppo and other parts of Syria, as the Taliban and members of ISIS use these places  to hide. The good people of Eltham, on the outskirts of Melbourne, have the perfect antidote to this kind of bigotry. In the face of attacks from far-right groups as they seek to refurbish accommodation for refugees, their response was: “We have to make our voices louder, and that’s what our group is trying to do. The voices of compassion and love have to be louder than the voices of hate.”
Next roadside demonstration: Thursday 8th December in Coffs Harbour

A reminder that our final roadside demonstration for 2016 is this Thursday, 8th December from 3.00 pm until 4.30 pm opposite the Base Hospital in Coffs Harbour. It would be great to have a strong turnout for our final demo of the year. Please consider joining us, even for part of the time, to remind the public that we still have many hundreds of families languishing in intolerable conditions on Nauru, and many hundreds of single men living in similar conditions on Manus. As yet, they have no idea what the future holds for them, and many of them have now spent more than three years in these hell-holes. Please come and join us to show your support. We have lots of banners and placards to share.
Petition to Luke Hartsuyker MP.

At Saturday’s market, we reached our target of 300 signatures on the petition to our local MP. Last week, we sent a letter by priority post, to arrive at Luke Hartsuyker’s office on Thursday 1st December. The letter states: 
Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
Our local Rural Australians for Refugees group has, in recent weeks, collected signatures on a petition, which is addressed to you. The petition reads:
Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
Evidence from professionals working in the detention centres on Manus and Nauru, together with reports from international organisations, make shocking reading and viewing. These centres are clearly designed to inflict suffering and to break the spirits of innocent people. Evidence of physical and sexual abuse are well documented, and go unpunished. It is time to put an end to this shameful policy. We urge you, as our representative in Parliament, to make a firm commitment to the urgent closure of these centres and to the resettlement in Australia of asylum seekers currently on Manus and Nauru.
We would like the opportunity to present the petition to you as soon as possible, and to discuss its contents with you. To that end, I propose to contact your office in the next few days to arrange a mutually convenient time for a small group of no more than four of your constituents to meet with you. I trust that you will be able to make the time to see us.

                                                                                                            Yours sincerely
                                                                                                             Mike Griffin
                                               On behalf of the Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR
Mike has been in contact with Luke Hartsuyker’s office, but at the time of writing he has not been able to get a positive response. More details in next week’s newsletter.

Christmas Break
Our final newsletter for 2016 will be sent to our 450 supporters on Tuesday 20th December. We will take a two-week break, with our first newsletter of 2017 arriving in your inboxes on Tuesday 10th January.

Check out the index of subjects on our blog 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to 453 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

The National RAR web site is at 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Peter Dutton millionaire - article in Australian 2 Dec 2016

The burden of handling one of federal politics’ most controversial portfolios isn’t holding back Immigration Minister Peter Dutton from building his substantial personal wealth.
The Member for Dixon is one of parliament’s less publicised multi-millionaires, having accumulated assets worth at least $10 million — perhaps as much as $20m — mainly through investment in residential real estate.

While protesters this week were hijacking the parliament over the Turnbull government’s refugee policies, Dutton was ­disclosing that he had been on a real estate spending spree since May.

He’s snapped up two new properties for his portfolio in his beloved Queensland — one in inner city Brisbane’s Spring Hill and another in far north Queensland’s Townsville.
No wonder Dutton was one of the most strident critics of Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen’s proposal to end negative gearing on property.
“Labor’s essentially said they want to lower house prices and they want to increase rents and I think that would be a disaster,” Dutton said of the proposal back in March.
Going by these latest acquisitions, those fears have passed.
With his Perth-born wife Kirilly, Dutton, 46, also has investment properties in Canberra’s Kingston, one on Moreton Island and a $2.4m beachfront pile he bought last year in Palm Beach. That home sits on “Millionaire’s Row” alongside one owned by surfing legend Kelly Slater, the former boyfriend of Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson.
The Duttons live in an expansive 20,000sq m spread at Camp Mountain — which is just over a 30-minute drive northwest of Brisbane’s CBD.
All up, that makes six residential properties in the Dutton portfolio.
And the family also control childcare operations in Queensland.
The former Queensland cop got the property bug early — buying his first property when he was 19, funded by a paper run as a teenager, work after school in a butcher and a strict avoidance of smashed avocado. On the side from his policing, he worked in the building business, Dutton Holdings, he founded with his father.
The pair developed childcare businesses, which they eventually sold to ABC Learning’s Eddie Groves, who back in 2004 was a donor to Dutton’s election campaign.
The now failed businessman gave Dutton $15,000 in two tranches in 2004. Considering their subsequent trajectories, Groves now might need that money back.


Newsletter for 29 November 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next market stall - Valla Beach 3rd December
RAR annual meeting and get together report
Petition to the Prime Minister
Roadside demonstration - Bellingen Thursday 24th Nov
Invitation to Bellingen bookreading

Roadside demonstration report

Another good demo in Bellingen last Thursday afternoon. There were only six of us, but we put on a good show and the response from passing motorists and pedestrians was entirely positive and supportive. Our next demonstration, which will be our last for 2016, will be in Coffs Harbour, opposite the Base Hospital on Thursday 8th December from 3.00 pm until 4.30 pm. It would be great to have a good turnout for our final roadside demo of 2016, so please consider coming along to give your support. In the light of recent events – not least the outpourings of Minister Dutton against people of “Lebanese Muslim background”- it’s so important that we present a different, compassionate and humane message. We hope that we might  see you there.
Our next market: Valla Beach, Saturday 3rd December

Our final market of the year - number 16 - is this coming Saturday at Valla Beach. We will be collecting signatures on the petition to our local Member of Parliament, engaging with the public and selling our merchandise. A great opportunity for you to buy a Boat People T shirt, tea towel or bag in time for Christmas! If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please come along and add your name. If you have collected petitions, it would be good if you could bring them along on Saturday, or alternatively post them to Mike at: Mike Griffin, 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach, NSW 2448, to arrive by next Tuesday 6th December at the latest. If you can help on our market stall for an hour or two between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, then please email Mike to let him know at:
Recent additions to our blog

During the past week, we have received a very supportive letter from Richard Di Natale, leader of the Greens, in response to correspondence. Mike has also received a letter from Luke Hartsuyker, our Federal MP, in response to a letter about the Coalition’s offshore detention policy. In addition, Margaret Henley has produced an update about Home Among the Gumtrees. The letters, and Margaret’s update, can be found on our blog.
Still no response  from Bill Shorten or Tanya Plibersek to our letter of 10th October, which you can also find on the blog.
The Petition. What happens next?

Our plan is to write to Luke Hartsuyker in the coming days to inform him about our petition. We intend to request a meeting, so that a small RAR delegation can present the petition to him and explain our deep dismay about the Coalition’s asylum seeker policy. Clearly, if our request for a meeting is turned down, we will need to adopt a different strategy to bring the issue to the public’s attention. Watch this space!
Report from our meeting on 20th November

Please find attached a detailed report from our review and planning meeting held on 20th November.

Check out the index of subjects on our blog 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to 453 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

The National RAR web site is at 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Home among the Gum Trees report 21 November 2016

Home Among the Gum Trees Report
Meeting Bellingen Nambucca RAR – Valla 21 Nov 2016

The program is run from Sydney by volunteer Sandra Hawker. She interviews potential guests of the program referred by non-government organisations working with people seeking asylum who are going through the long drawn-out Immigration visa application and interview process.
 It is quite an involved process finding the right family/individuals to travel – she attends many functions for those seeking asylum to get to know people who may be suitable guests. We have a group in our area of about twelve, plus partners, who have offered to host guests, either with accommodation or with support such as outings, meals etc.

In order to take out a public liability insurance policy to cover the guests, Sandra and her support group have decided to seek incorporation. This will be under way in the near future. Once they are incorporated, they will seek membership from individuals who would pay a once off payment of $5.00 and annual payment of $10.  We will let our members know when membership is open.

Our members at the meeting also agreed that we could help fund airfares for future guests as the long train trip may not be suitable for all participants.

Margaret Henley,
Area Co-ordinator for Gumtrees.


Response from Luke Hartsuyker to Mikes letter and petition to the Prime Minister

Click on letter to increase size

Letter to Luke Hartsuyker 2 November 2016 re John Morse letter below

2nd November 2016

Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
I recently read John Morse's letter to you, published in the Bellingen Courier Sun. John clearly worked hard over many years, serving the Australian community as the CEO of Tourism Australia. Like so many of us, he is horrified and deeply ashamed of our government's cruel and inhumane policy towards asylum seekers languishing without hope on Nauru and Manus.  That he is should be so moved by the government's asylum policy to decide to return his Australia Medal speaks volumes. I salute him for his courageous and principled stance.

Could this finally be a wakeup call for you, our elected representative, to acknowledge that the current policy is deliberately cruel and unsustainable? Rather than support the latest cruel twist in government policy, aimed at permanently banning those who arrived by boat to indefinite banishment from our shores, will you now show some humanity and stand with those of us who utterly reject the connection that the government continues to falsely make between drowning at sea and the indefinite detention of innocent people who have a right to seek our protection? 

Most voters simply don't buy that argument. A clear majority of Australians now believe that the asylum seekers and refugees currently on Nauru and Manus should be brought to Australia. It is plainly wrong, and morally reprehensible, to use these people as a means to deter others from making the perilous journey across the sea. There are better, more humane and lawful ways to deal with the problem.

Like John Morse AM, in the face of this cruelty and inhumanity, deliberately inflicted by the government on innocent people, I feel ashamed to call myself Australian.

                                                                                                            Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                             Mike Griffin

Response from Richard Di Natale, Greens to Mikes letter and petition

click on letter to enlarge


Report on meeting of RAR Bellingen and Districts group 20 November 2016

Report on our meeting of Sunday 20th November 2016

A great turnout  of 24 people for our meeting at the home of Mike and Marlene in Valla Beach on 20th November. The purpose of the gathering was to review our work to date, to discuss future actions, and to enjoy one another's company over lunch.

Review of our activities in 2016
We have had a very busy and productive year, thanks to the efforts of a committed core group of people who have regularly offered their time and energy to our programme of activities, which have included:
·      attendance at 16 markets to promote the case for the humane and lawful treatment of asylum seekers, and for the closure of offshore detention centres.
r     regular, fortnightly roadside demonstrations to keep the asylum seeker issues in the public eye.
·      letters to the press and to politicians.
·      numerous petitions throughout the year, aimed at keeping up the pressure on our politicians.
·      fundraising activities, which have enabled us to support several refugee charities and advocacy groups.
·      a Facebook page which is updated almost daily.
·      our blog, which contains a huge amount of information, including the many letters sent to the press and to parliamentarians.
·      a weekly newsletter, which is circulated to some 450 supporters.
 So far this year, we have donated  $2,870 to the ChilOut charity, $2,000 to the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, and $450 to the Asylum Seeker Centre. This has been possible as a result of our highly successful Simon Tedeschi concert, which raised more than $4,800, and through the profits from our market sales. We currently have $1,190 in our BCU account.

Home among the Gumtrees
Margaret updated the meeting on progress with the Home Among the Gumtrees initiative. We have a number of people who have offered to support the project, and there will be a further update shortly. The organisers in Sydney are planning to become an incorporated group and are hoping that some of our supporters will take up membership.

Where do we go from here?
A number of issues and conclusions emerged:
·      it was agreed that we need to keep up the pressure and be ready to react and adapt our strategy as government policy shifts.
·      agreed that we need to emphasise our responsibility as a nation to "bring them here".
·      We should support any initiatives to increase our humanitarian intake.
·      We should consider developing more regular press releases, with photos, in addition to letters to the press. This should include reminding people, including local editors, that we are a local group of 450 members.
·      We should seek to derive maximum publicity from the petition to Luke Hartsuyker. We should also seek the views of other political parties/candidates about the issues raised in the petition.
·      We should try to work on changing perceptions in the Labor party about its national policy in relation to refugees.
·      We need to design a new bumper sticker, and then distribute our remaining ones without charge for people to use.
·      Can we promote forums/ films which highlight refugee issues?
·      The idea of a tent installation was also floated, as was the possibility of a mass demonstration in Canberra.
It was acknowledged that new initiatives need to be owned and embraced by individuals or a small group if they are to get off the ground.
The meeting was followed by a most enjoyable lunch and social.