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Chilout - important announcement

Extract from Chilout Newsletter for April 2017 Important news regarding their organisation’s future.

For all Chilout newsletters click on Chilout Newsletter Tab at top of page

As a valued supporter and follower of ChilOut you may be aware of the “refugee swap deal” which the Australian government is negotiating with the United States. While we hope this deal will mean people will be resettled in the United States, our position remains that all people seeking asylum held on Nauru and Manus Island should be brought to safety in Australia immediately, they are our responsibility.
We plan to scale back our current operations while we observe the developments on Nauru and Manus Island closely. We will continue to be active online –  via our website, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms – promoting and campaigning for the rights of children in detention. However, we will no longer undertake other projects and activities (our current Youth Ambassador program ended in March).

We would like to say special thanks to our two staff members who have dedicated their time and passion to the cause: Niru Palanivel, our Campaign Manager has maintained our strong links throughout the sector and with the community and Zoe Grant, who started as a Youth Ambassador, took on the position of Community Engagement Officer, managing our Youth Ambassadors. Both have contributed their wholehearted passion and skills towards freeing the children. We thank them and wish them all the very best.      

ChilOut is one of 23 organisations under the End Child Detention Coalition (ECDC), with a support base of 140,000 people across all states and territories. The ECDC continues the targeted work of child rights in this area and we encourage our followers to support their work. 
Please click here to visit ECDC’s website to learn more!


Newsletter for 25 April 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside Demo Report
Coffs Harbour Market Report
Events on Manus Island

Roadside demonstration report

Last Thursday, a much-depleted group of supporters held  a roadside demonstration in Bellingen. We received lots of positive responses and support from passing motorists and pedestrians, which is always encouraging. It would be good to see more of our supporters participating in these demonstrations, as they are such a good way of getting our message across. We cannot simply fold our tent because Minister Dutton tells us that the Coalition policy will not change, notwithstanding our “bleating” about the issue. Our response was to create a new placard, especially for Mr Dutton!

Our upcoming roadside demos are as follows:
Thursday 4th May adjacent to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.
Thursday 18th May on the Pacific Highway in Nambucca Heads, adjacent to the Plaza shopping centre.
Thursday 1st June on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour, opposite the Base hospital.
Thursday 15th June on Waterfall Way in Bellingen, adjacent to the library.
All the roadside demos start at 3.00 pm and end at 4.30 pm.

Coffs Harbour market report

Our market stall on Sunday at the temporary venue was a great success. The sun shone brightly, we had lots of visitors, collected 75 signatures on our petition, sold lots of merchandise and welcomed some new supporters. In addition to the many positive conversations that we had with market-goers, we also gave out information sheets about our group and about offshore detention. Our colourful stall continues to attract a lot of attention, and we didn’t have a single difficult conversation throughout the morning.
Our upcoming markets are as follows:
Saturday 20th May: Bellingen
Saturday 3rd June: Valla Beach
Sunday 25th June: Coffs Harbour
As  always, we are looking for helpers between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, so if you are able to help out for an hour or two at any of these markets, then please put the dates in your diary.

Events on Manus Island

Supporters will be aware that there was a serious incident at the Manus Island detention centre on Good Friday, in which many shots were fired. Eye-witness accounts speak of drunken naval officers shooting into the detention centre, causing panic amongst both the refugees and detention centre workers. Minister Dutton immediately linked the incident to simmering tensions around an allegation of sexual assault that had taken place some weeks earlier, and suggested in addition that asylum seekers had lured a five year old child into the centre. The senior police officer on Manus, Inspector David Yapu, states that the incident was caused by drunken naval officers who attacked both the asylum seekers and members of the  workforce at the centre. He further stated that  a ten year old child had entered the detention centre a week earlier, had subsequently been returned unharmed to his parents, and that the two incidents were not linked.
Having insinuated that  the asylum seekers were to blame for the incident, rather than  the  drunken naval officers, Mr Dutton now says that we should let the police investigation run its  course. Echoes of the “children overboard” story here ! 

Our roadside demo in Bellingen

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 >480 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

The National RAR web site is at 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Newsletter or 18 April 2017 Rural Australiansds Nambucca Distgricts for Refugees Bellingen an

Next Roadside Demo - Thurs 20th April Bellingen 3pm

Next Market - Coffs Harbour, Sun 23rd April
Home Among the Gumtrees
Violence at Manus Island
National refugee action conference - Canberra May 20-21


Newsletter for 11 April 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Roadside Demo - Thurs 20th April Bellingen 3pm
Next Market - Coffs Harbourside Sunday April 23rd
No business in abuse
Health care on Manus Island in disarray

Roadside demonstration : Thursday 20th April in Bellingen from 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm.

Sadly, owing to the forecast of rain for the whole of the day last Thursday, we cancelled the planned roadside demonstration outside the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. But worry not, we have another planned for Thursday 20th April in Bellingen! You will find us in the usual spot on Waterfall Way, adjacent to the library, between 3.00 pm and 4.30 pm. Please consider coming to join us if you can. As always, we have lots of banners and placards to share, we just need some willing hands to hold them aloft. Please put the date in your diary.

Market Stall: Coffs Harbourside market, Sunday 23rd April from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm 

Our next market stall will be in Coffs Harbour on Sunday 23rd April. We have had a run of bad luck with the weather for our stalls in recent months, so let’s cross our fingers and hope that the sun will shine. The Harbourside market is located near the jetty and we are looking for helpers from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. As always, we will be selling our asylum seeker merchandise, handing out information leaflets, collecting signatures for our petition and seeking donations for the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown. It’s a great opportunity to interact with the public and to get to know other RAR supporters. If you can join us for an hour or two, then please let Mike know by emailing him at:

Amnesty warns companies about getting involved in abuse on Nauru and Manus island

Bowing to public pressure, the Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, which owns the camp management company Broadspectrum, announced some time ago that it will not work in the offshore detention camps beyond its current contract, which expires in October. A new Amnesty briefing document argues that any companies taking over from Broadspectrum will be participating in a deliberately abusive regime. The briefing document states: “Any company or organisation taking up this toxic baton will be complicit in an intentionally abusive system, in direct contravention of its human rights responsibilities, and will be exposing itself to potential liability and damages claims.” The document goes on to say: “The Australian government has created an island of despair for refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru, but an island of profit for companies making millions of dollars from a system so deliberately and inherently cruel and abusive that it amounts to torture.”
We can but hope that no company will want to take the risk of accepting a contract for the continuation of the cruelty and punishment of the asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, who remain the responsibility of the Australian government. These people, who have committed no crime, should be brought to Australia for processing and resettlement. It’s time to end the shame!

Health care on Manus Island in disarray

In recent days, the Manus Island detention centre’s for-profit organisation – International Health and Medical Services – has been forced to abandon the island because, according to the PNG government, it was found to be practising medicine unlicensed. The company has temporarily been replaced by a skeleton staff from a PNG company, which is providing only basic and emergency medical care. The effect, inevitably, is that some detainees requiring medication for chronic conditions – as many of them do – have been left without medication. If a situation like this were to arise in any of our towns and cities, there would rightly be a huge outcry, but the issue has hardly registered on the radar of the Australian media. It seems that as long as the government can keep these ongoing crises hidden from view, with little scrutiny or accountability, then our politicians – both government and opposition - are happy to look the other way. We need to keep up the pressure to end this cruelty.

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 >480 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

Email address

The National RAR web site is at 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Roadside demo tomorrow April 6 - cancelled due to weather.

Notification received on 5 April 2017 that the Roadside demo to be held on 6 April has been cancelled due to weather. 


Newsletter for 4 April 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Market - Coffs Harbourside Sunday April 23rd
Next Roadside Demo - Thurs 6th April Big Banana 3pm
Donation to Refugee and Casework Service
Book Release - They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention

Market report

Sadly, once again, there is nothing to report, as the Valla market was cancelled due to the wet weather. We are not having much luck lately! Our next market will be the Coffs Harbourside market, which will take place on Sunday 23rd April. We would be grateful for support between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, so if you can help out for an hour or two, please let Mike know my emailing him at: We would welcome supporters, old and new.

Next roadside demonstration: The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour: Thursday 6th April from 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm

Our next roadside demonstration is just a couple of days away. You will find us on the grass verge beneath the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, and we would very much welcome a big turnout to show people that the issue of treating asylum seekers with humanity and compassion will not go away. We have lots of banners and placards to share, so why not come and join us? 
At this particular venue, experience tells us that it is better to wear shoes rather than open sandals or thongs, as the bull ants are pretty vicious!
In two weeks time, on Thursday 20th April, our roadside demonstration will be in Bellingen.

Donation to the Refugee Advice and Casework Service

As you will be aware from last week’s newsletter, our fundraising efforts last week enabled us to send $2,337 to RACS to support their urgent work in assisting asylum seekers to register their claims for protection. We received the following response from the RACS fundraising manager:

“RACS would like to extend a big thank you to all those at the Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts for your recent donation. Your very generous support towards the work of RACS helps to enable us to provide free legal assistance to people seeking asylum, thus making a huge difference to their future prospects. The confidence and support from community organisations such as yours provides our legal team and the many people we assist with hope and encouragement. Thank you!”

They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories From Detention

In this new book, published just a few weeks ago by Allen and Unwin, people who have sought refuge in Australia tell their stories in their own words. Many of the writers are still in detention on Manus island or Nauru. Others are living in the Australian community waiting for their  applications for refugee status  to be considered.  This is what some prominent people have to say in the foreword to the book:

“They emerge as brave and resourceful people who ought to have been welcomed with open arms but instead have become pawns in an obscure game played between political parties. As a matter of policy they have been turned into non-people, their names erased, their images blanked out, their voices silenced.” J M Coetzee

“ To pay attention to these stories is to know we must do things differently and to remember that the universal aspiration to a dignified life is the essential human quality that should guide our thinking.” Peter Mares

“This is a book whose human, frank, illuminating voices the government does not want to hear from. In the end Australia will hear and honour these life histories, and honestly acknowledge Australia’s shameful part in them.”  Tom Keneally

The book is currently available at the Alternative Bookshop in Bellingen, at the Book Warehouse in Coffs Harbour, and of course, online. You can find out more

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 >480 recipients


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

The National RAR web site is at 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook