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Newsletter for 26 January 2016 RAR Bellingen and Nambucca

Meeting for all supporters to discuss future of Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts group

You will be aware from previous newsletters that we are planning a meeting and lunch for supporters on Sunday 21st February, starting with the meeting at 12.00 pm, followed by lunch at about 1.30 pm.  The meeting offers the opportunity for us to reflect on what we have achieved to date and to discuss what actions we would like to plan for the future in addition to current activities.  It will be a great chance for you to have your say and to help us to shape our future as a group. We do hope that many of you will want to come along to contribute to the discussion.
This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes. To read the complete newsletter click below

The lunch which follows should provide an excellent opportunity for us to relax, get to know one another better and to enjoy a (hopefully sunny) get-together on the back deck. You may want to bring a plate to share, but please don’t feel obliged to do so. Drinks will be provided.
The event will take place at 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach. If you are able to come along, then please let Mike know by emailing him at:
Directions: Turn  off the Pacific Highway at Valla Beach. Follow Valla Beach Road for about 400 metres, then, just before the water tower, turn left  into Kuta Avenue. Follow this road for about 300 metres. Rogers Drive is the third turning on the left. Proceed down Rogers Drive almost to the end of the cul de sac. Number 39 is on the left. There is plenty of parking space in the driveway/ on the front garden, and some parking on the street.
See you there!

Valla Beach Market Saturday 6 February 2016

Our next market stall will be at Valla Beach market on Saturday 6th February. As usual, we will be giving out information leaflets, encouraging people to sign our petition and selling our refugee merchandise.  John and Peter will be setting up the stall at 7.00 am , and are looking for volunteers from 9.00 am. Mike will be away in the Middle East on a  two-week study visit which takes in Beirut, Jordan, East Jerusalem, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. He’ll be visiting refugee camps, meeting with Palestinian refugees, a whole range of refugee advocacy groups, MPs, journalists and aid workers. No doubt he will have much to report on his return!
If you can help with the stall on 6th February between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm, then please get in touch with John via : You can be assured that you will enjoy the experience and that you will have lots of positive and interesting interactions with people who visit the market. We do depend on our band of volunteers to keep up the momentum to raise public awareness and to maintain the pressure on our elected representatives to change the current dreadful  policy, particularly in relation to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers, so please consider joining us for an hour or two.

Australia's very own "Black Sites"79We were all horrified, following the West’s invasion of Iraq, to learn about the “black sites” run by the Americans, with the support of their closest allies. In these places, far from the prying eyes of journalists or human rights lawyers, prisoners were treated with enormous cruelty. They were held without charge, subjected to torture, ritual humiliation and beatings from which some of them never recovered.  But how different is the treatment that our government is meting out to  the 922 men currently held indefinitely on Manus island? They have not been accused of any crime and they are held in secret, far from our shores and far from any serious possibility of scrutiny. We get only periodic glimpses into the treatment of these asylum seekers, since secrecy is the name of the game. When people  are assaulted, abused or die, then these episodes are merely brushed aside. Indeed, our government is so intent on hiding the details about the brutal death of Reza Barati, that it is prepared to endanger the life of a key witness, Behnam Satah, in the hope that he will eventually feel so intimidated by the threats on his life that he will withdraw his testimony. ( See the article in The Saturday Paper by Di Cousens) This is now stored on the blog 

Many of the medical professionals who have worked in Australian detention centres, such as Dr David Isaacs, are very clear that a key purpose of the detention regime is to cause asylum seekers such harm that they will decide to return to the dangerous  situations from which they had fled. They argue that the detention centres are designed to damage people. Dr Isaacs argues that the centres – built in remote places offshore, secretive, and inaccessible – are reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay.  Dr Isaacs asks: “Are healthcare professionals working in Australia’s immigration detention centre condoning torture?”
And our Government does all this in our name!
We must keep up the pressure to persuade the government and the opposition that these centres have to be closed. 

Border Protection Department wasting money
The problems arising from the management of this department are becoming apparent, and we will list these, some with links to the detail, others just as comment.  If you have other examples to add to the list, please email us.
The Border Protection Department is spending $1.3 million on medals for its staff!Full article is on the blog of chartered flights $20 million budgeted and in one event they spent $130,000 to return a woman asylum seeker to Nauru and then returned her to Australia a few days later! Refusal to agree to New Zealand taking some refugees from Manus Island as they might come Australia by the "back door". allowing children to have outings from detention centres in Australia. of uniforms/ renaming for para military organisation. $10 million
You will be aware that the Federal Government believes it has a spending problem and is cutting funding in all areas, including funding to the states. This means that any loss you see in grants from the NSW Government may be a result of Federal funding cuts
e.g. Saltwater Freshwater Festival in Coffs Harbour cancelled because of loss of funding. If you have examples of loss of funding, please email us so we can explain how overspending on Border Protection is hurting local activities.
New petition to Minister Dutton is attached
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. 
Australia Day Message
When you have read the above stories, and reflect on the values of Australians - decency, freedom, rule of law, compassion and then think about what the Government is doing to Asylum Seekers, one has wonder if the following comment reflects what is really happening
​ This poster is also attached in case you want to print it out and put it on a notice board or send it to your local member  of Parliament
National Rural Australians for Refugees - now has current news on their web site 
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David Wallin

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