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Newsletter for 15 March 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca

Next Market stall will be in Bellingen THIS Saturday 19 March 2016

A reminder that our next market stall will be at Bellingen this Saturday 19 March. As usual, we will be giving out information leaflets, encouraging people to sign our petition and selling our refugee merchandise.  John will be setting up the stall at 7.00 am , and are looking for volunteers from 9.00 am. 
If you can help with the stall on Saturday 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.

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

Fund Raising for our Group
We just reached and passed the $500 target for our fundraiser for our RAR group. Many thanks to everyone who contributed, including Heather with the brand new Gazebo, and Jennie, Judy and John who pitched in with very generous donations. I will post some links for other worthy asylum seeker charities on Facebook  soon. Thanks again everyone and see you at the March Bello Markets on Saturday the19th.

Report on meeting on 21 February 2016

A great turnout for our first meeting of 2016 with over 20 supporters reviewing the past 12 months activity and discussing new ways to intervene in the continuing struggle to close the camps and bring back humanity to Australia’s Asylum Seeker policies. We have already had a stall at two markets this year and have 14 more planned for the year. 

The notes written on 28 February 2016, reporting on the meeting follow:
Some updated information in red.

Eight items were placed upon the agenda for discussion.  The meeting followed these agenda items.

1) Review of our activities to date.
Mike summarized our activities including our presence at market stalls and pickets, letter writing and forwarding petitions to Members of Parliament, our weekly newsletter, blog, Facebook posts, sales of merchandise to promote our cause, collection of donations for ChilOut and establishment of links to both National RAR and individual RAR groups. 
These activities reinforce our continual presence and let the political parties know we are “not going away”. At the end of 2015, we posted a petition with over 900 signatures to the Prime Minister. Our visual presence and attendance at markets and rallies enables us to communicate directly with the public to explain issues related to asylum seekers, contradict myths and reinforce or even shift opinions.

2) Organisational structure of the group.
The present incarnation of RAR, Bellingen and Nambucca, was formed with the intention of not following a formal structured model.  This seems to have worked well to date. Mike and John P have been the main media spokespersons and contacts. There were no objections to continuation of this method of operation.

3) Finances.
John P has been handling our Internet banking and processing donations to ChilOut. To date a total of $1200 has been donated to Chilout.
At present there is $316 in our bank account, with $240 already allocated. Purchase of our promotional merchandise has been funded by a few members advancing funds which are refunded when sufficient sales enable this to occur. It was suggested that if each member donated $10, this practice could be avoided and a kitty could be established for necessary purchases.  This suggestion was flagged in a recent newsletter. An amount of  $290 has been raised, both by cash donations at this meeting and by direct Bank deposits. (now more than $500)

4) Frequency of our newsletter.
There were several suggestions regarding this item. Frequency – monthly, weekly, fortnightly – and format were raised. It was suggested that anyone who would be able to either take over the newsletter or assist in its preparation should advise David ASAP.

5) Home Among the Gumtrees.
Peter explained the operational aspects of this program. Hosts are needed for asylum seekers to explore regional life and employment prospects. Usually a group of hosts is selected in a country area and the asylum seekers (generally two) lodge with these hosts on a rotational basis.

6) Fundraising concert for ChilOut and RACS.
Simon Tedeschi, famed international pianist, has generously agreed to play at a concert in Nambucca Heads at 2.30pm on 5 June.  Tickets will be on sale soon for $25. Simon will not charge a fee for his performance and donations will be split 50/50 between ChilOut and RACS (Refugee Advice and Counselling Service).  Seating capacity is around 225 and this should be an excellent fundraiser for these services.
There has been an offer from a Bellingen business operator to auction a Reg Mombasa Tshirt, hopefully to raise $2,000. Robin volunteered to follow this up.

7) National RAR events.
There may be a national RAR conference in July (now September) and possibly a protest in Canberra. More information will follow on these events. Carol suggested we consider the opportunity to attend International Womens Day events and speak about asylum seeker issues.

8) Ideas for future activities.
We broke into small groups and the following suggestions were raised.
-       Picketing and its evolution into “Flash Mobs”, Street Theatre, “Centering” from outside an area into the middle and targeting both commuter high traffic areas and shopping malls/eating areas. The necessity to plan ahead and be prepared to be available for     protests was raised.
-       Information dissemination from specific groups, e.g., “Mums for Refugees” similar to the “Knitting Nannas”.
-       Asking refugees to tell their own stories and relate their experiences at public forums.
-       Requesting political candidates to give a statement of both their personal views AND their political party’s views regarding asylum seekers.
Well, this was a good meeting and we all enjoyed an excellent lunch afterwards. Many thanks to all attendees and especially to Mike & Marlene for allowing us to use their home as a venue and to Marlene for her fabulous catering.

End of month picket/protest

    Dear All,
     I am asking for support for our last Thursday of the month’s picket.
 Date Thursday 31st March, time 3pm-5:30pm, location the roundabout at the junction of Hogbin Drive and Sawtell Road.
    If you are able to come please let me know either by email ( or phone 0490314166

Thanks Robin Hesketh

Help us with our research.

Supporters at our meeting on 21 February went away inspired to take action.

Valuable research into number of Asylum Seekers/ Refugees held on Nauru, has been obtained from the Human Rights Commission by one of our supporters. see

Another person was inspired to write to Peter Dutton see 

Getting our supporters to contribute to improving our knowledge and to write politicians confronting them with this information is a great idea.

If you would like to carry out some research, have a look at "Useful Links on the blog and contact us at

The Welcome Petition

Message from Jessica Hackett and The Welcome Petition 
We need everyone to write to their MP and ask that they support The Welcome Petition, so as to put pressure on Peter Dutton to actually respond to Jess's massive petition properly and not just send a generic letter! 
Cheers, Everyone for your support
Jessica Hackett walked 700 kilometres from Melbourne to Canberra and collected 17,000 signatures.
Russell Broadbent, MP, presented The Welcome Petition to the House of Representatives. 
A huge thank you to Mr Russell Broadbent MP and everyone who helped make this possible! 17,000 signatures!
Well done Australia!!
For more info visit:
Published 1 March 2016


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check out the index of subjects on the blog
the draft newsletter is on the blog  - see tab at top.
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David Wallin

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