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Newsletter for 19 January 2016 Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

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 1.30 pm by lunch. Please put the date in your diary. Further details will be circulated nearer the time.
This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes. To read the full newsletter click below
Bellingen Community Market Saturday 16 January 2016
Our first market of the year in Bellingen on Saturday was a great success. The sun shone, the crowds arrived, and we were kept busy giving out our new and updated information leaflets, getting people to sign the latest petition, selling our asylum seeker merchandise and engaging in lots of conversations. A favourite was an interaction between a mother and her daughter of about five years. The little girl asked about the poster of an asylum seeker child behind the wire and wanted to know why the child was in prison. Her mother carefully explained what the story was all about and how these little children should be set free and be able to play in the back yard just like her. “Yes,”, replied the little girl, “and then they could be proud Australians just like me”. How lovely!
Many thanks to all our supporters who came along to help or who dropped by to have a chat and sign the petition.
Our new petition
Our new petition, which will run until the end of March, is  addressed to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton. It reads: “We, the undersigned, are deeply dismayed that the Australian government continues to hold children and their families in indefinite detention. Many of these families have now spent more than two years on Nauru and in immigration centres on the mainland. It is time to end this hugely expensive, cruel, immoral and unlawful policy which causes such terrible harm to the innocent victims and to Australia’s international reputation. All asylum seekers who are found to be entitled to our protection under international conventions, together with refugee families living “in the community” on Nauru, should be resettled in Australia”.
The petition sheet is attached to this newsletter. It would be great if you could print it off and ask friends and family to sign it. You can return the completed form to our market stall at  Valla beach market on 6th February, the Bellingen market on 19th March, or alternatively you can post it to Mike Griffin, 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach, NSW 2448.
Self Harming in Detention Centres. 
The incidence of self harming in detention centres is reported to have reached epidemic proportions. Figures covering the period from July 2014 to July 2015 were recently released and present a horrific picture. 
In onshore detention centres there were 706 acts of self harm in this time period which amounts to almost two each day. 
Figures for offshore detention for the same period are also alarming with 188 incidents cited on Nauru and 53 on Manus Island. 
Detainees have been driven to desperate measures such as imbibing toxic chemicals, laceration  and attempts to burn themselves to death or choke themselves with plastic bags. 
The situation has reached crisis point and raises questions over the human rights implications of Australia’s policy on the running of detention centres and the time for which asylum seekers are detained. Under the Turnbull government the average time asylum seekers spend in onshore detention has risen to a record high of 445 days. This raises grave concerns about the effect of this on the mental health of detainees. 
There needs to be a radical overhaul of present administrative procedures so that assessments of refugee status are processed more efficiently by Immigration officers .
It is interesting to read that at the same time as the figures above were released we also discovered  that the Department of Immigration spends more per year on the purchase of celebratory medals to reward its officers than is spent by the Department of Defence.  It is difficult to understand what the Department of Immigration feels is the cause of such celebration. 
Border Protection Department wasting money
The Border Protection Department is spending $1.3 million on medals for its staff!
Number of Days in detention on Manus Island
The chart of the number of days that Manus Island detention centre has been open with the current group of asylum seekers is attached. Download it and it will recalculate the days every time you open it. 
National Rural Australians for Refugees - now has current news on their web site 
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Blog  includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians.
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check out the index of subjects on the blog
the draft newsletter is on the blog see tab at top and will be sent to 386 recipients
Mission statement for our group has been renamed "who are we?" and can be read at
It includes the updated RAR leaflet
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Twitter Account  @RARBellingenNam
Email Address
David Wallin

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