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Newsletter for 5 July 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next market stall will be at Bellingen Market on Saturday 16th July.
UNHCR Brunch Report
Trauma Psychologist Speaks Out
Next Market Stall : Bellingen Market, Saturday 16th July
We hope that we’ll get a good post-election turnout for the midwinter market in Bellingen on Saturday 16th July. By then we will know for sure (maybe) the make-up of our new Federal Government, so it will be a great opportunity to send them a message: that we have not gone away, and that we will now press even more strenuously for a change of government policy in relation to asylum seekers. With the election behind us, this is a good time to demand a bi-partisan approach to ending the cruelty and inhumanity of the current policy. John and Mike are looking for support on our RAR stall from 9.00 am until 1.00 pm. If you can help out for an hour or two, please let Mike know by emailing him at:
UNHCR Brunch Report
On World Refugee Day, 20th June, more than 20 supporters attended  a special brunch at the Old Butter Factory Cafe in Bellingen to raise much-needed funds for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. It was a lovely occasion: great food, good company and wonderful entertainment from The Akabella singers under the leadership of Louise Gore. There were brief presentations from Mike, who spoke about his recent visit to the Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, and from John who talked about the work and progress of our RAR group over the past couple of years.
The brunch raised an amazing $750 for UNHCR. A big thank you to Rosemary Laurens for organising the event.

Trauma Psychologist Speaks Out
The trauma psychologist, Paul Stevenson, who has spent 40 years working in the aftermath of disasters across the world, reported this week that he has never seen more atrocity than he has experienced recently whilst working on Nauru and Manus Island.
His official report reveals a near-constant stream of despair, privation and self-harm. He describes every day on Nauru and Manus as demoralising and reports that he has witnessed the greatest atrocities of his career whilst working in these offshore detention centres.  Many refugee families have been in detention for between 2 and 3 years with no hope of resettlement any time soon. They are demoralised and desperate.
On some days, Paul Stevenson reports that he  experienced   six “code blues” (medical emergencies) for suicide attempts. Some asylum seekers attempted suicide day after day after day. They are placed on high watch for a time but then try to kill themselves almost immediately after their watch is ended.  Children are constantly witnessing acts of self harm and then proceed to commit self harm themselves. It is sometimes months – after adults have been moved to Australia for a medical emergency – before they feel safe enough to reveal the sexual or physical abuse of their women and children.
Most of the guards working in the detention centres are from military backgrounds and have little experience of coping with medical emergencies and mental illness. Secrecy pervades  inside the detention centres and conditions and practices  are a closely guarded secret kept from the Australian public. Workers in the centres are not allowed to take photographs or carry mobile phones or to report on aspects of life inside the camp boundaries. Doctors and social workers are not allowed to speak out. Stevenson is risking his career by reporting his experiences. This level of secrecy can only exist because there is so much our government wants to keep from us. Surely, we, the Australian public, have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our money ?
People fleeing wars and persecution have a right in international law to seek asylum in a safe country. These refugees are our responsibility so why do we continue to treat them with cruelty and inhumanity ? Offshore detention is costing us billions of dollars and is unsustainable for the future . A review of government policy on the treatment of refugees is long overdue.

National RAR Conference: Bendigo  3rd and 4th September
​  2016​
The national RAR group is planning a major conference for RAR members across Australia, and they are hoping for  representation from members of our group. The conference will be very interesting and informative, with a range of keynote speakers and discussion sessions. If you would be interested in travelling to Bendigo for the conference, please let us know by email at: Further information can be obtained from the national RAR coordinator  at:

Registrations are required by August 6 so act now to attend this important event.

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