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Newsletter for 26 September 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and NambuccaDistricts

Next Roadside Demo - Coffs Hospital Thursday October 12th 2:30pm
Next Market Stall -Valla Beach Sat 7th October
The US refugee deal
Arash's story
New RAR petition

Roadside demonstration report

A big thank you to all our supporters who turned up last Thursday for our roadside demonstration in Nambucca Heads. Another successful event, with lots of positive support, together with the inevitable hostility from a small minority of passing motorists. We clearly still have a significant job to do in informing the Australian public about the reality of our government’s cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers . With a largely hostile media , and a compliant Opposition in parliament, we have to continue to articulate the need for a facts-based and humane response to the plight of asylum seekers.
Our next roadside demonstration will be on Thursday 12th October in Coffs Harbour, opposite the Base hospital, from 2.30 until 4.00 pm. Why not make a resolution to join us and put the date in your diary? 

The US refugee deal: some good news at last

Last week the government announced that some 54 refugees from Nauru and Manus island will be resettled in the US in a matter of days. This is great news for this group of people and will finally bring to an end their terrible suffering in offshore detention. Let us hope that they will receive a positive welcome in the US and that they will get the support that they will need to rebuild their shattered lives. It is expected that more refugees will be resettled in the months ahead, but there is currently no available concrete information either about the timescale or the numbers.
Meanwhile, asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected continue to be forcibly returned to their country of origin, and a number of genuine refugees have been coerced into returning to their home countries rather than face a life of indefinite torment in offshore detention. Unbelievably, this includes Rohingya refugees who are being offered incentives to return to Mayanmar. The Iranian government, however, refuses to take back is citizens who face forced removal. Our government’s response is to build a new detention centre at Bomana, on the outskirts of Port Moresby,  at a cost of $20 million, where more than 100 Iranians will be indefinitely detained at the Australian taxpayers’ expense. All of this, of course, is designed to “prevent drownings at sea”!

Arash’s story

Arash is an Iranian refugee who is held on Nauru.  His wife was brought to Australia  from Nauru more than a year ago because of health complications during her pregnancy. His daughter, who he has never seen, was born in Sydney in March.  The Australian Border Force has told him that he can apply for resettlement in the US, but not with his family. He must release all custody of his daughter, and has been sent a “release of custody” form by the ABF. Aresh explains: “The ABF said to me officially, you have two options: bring your family to Nauru and you can go through the US resettlement application process as a family; or your wife and daughter can stay in Australia but you have to give custody of your child to your wife and you will be processed as a single man.” Why should Aresh be forced to choose between family and freedom? Why does our government continue to treat people with such callous inhumanity?
Please email Minister Dutton at: to demand that Aresh, who has refugee status, be brought to Australia to be reunited with his family. 

Our new RAR petition

We have put together a new petition on behalf of the national RAR  groups, which we will launch at our next market stall, to be held at the Valla Beach market on Saturday 7th October. The petition is in the form of an open letter to Shayne Neumann, the Labor Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Our aim is to attempt to shift the position of the Labor party from its current stance of strong support for the key pillars of the  government’s asylum policy. It officially supports the policy of turning back asylum seeker boats, of indefinite offshore detention and of refusing to resettle in Australia any asylum seekers who arrive by boat. There is, however, a significant minority of Labor members and parliamentarians who want to move to a more humane and principled policy, and we need to pressurise the opposition to move in that direction. It’s worth remembering that there are many people who arrive in Australia by air each year who subsequently lodge a claim for asylum, and who are immediately issued with bridging visas with rights to work, education and other benefits. The International Refugee Convention does not permit countries to discriminate against asylum seekers in relation to their mode of arrival.
We’ll send out details of the new petition in next week’s newsletter.

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reply to letter to Coffs Advocate re spending on Asylum Seekers published 20 September 2017

From: Marlene
Sent: Friday, 15 September 2017 2:12 PM
To: ''
Subject: Letter to the editor. 

Dear Editor,

It is understandable that many of your readers like Mr Piper of Bellingen are concerned to protect their hard earned income and savings. They may therefore question government spending on refugees. In particular they are often opposed to refugees on Nauru and Manus Island being settled in Australia. Perhaps if they look at the statistics on the costs of detention they may be surprised. 
It costs over $500, 000 per year to keep one asylum seeker in offshore detention.  By contrast it costs $40, 000 per year to resettle and support them in here in Australia. So the Australian taxpayer is paying 12 times more each year to keep refugees off  the Australian mainland and on Nauru and Manus Islands where they are detained indefinitely in appalling conditions. 
We cannot as a country ignore international human rights laws. These refugees have a right to seek asylum and we are obliged to resettle them somewhere. 
Surveys demonstrate that once refugees have settled here they contribute greatly to Australian communities. Let’s not forget that many of them are highly skilled professional people who have fled war-torn countries where their lives were in danger. 
The legitimacy of their claims to asylum is often questioned.  If they were brought to Australia they would only be allowed to stay if, at the end of a statutory assessment process, they are found to have a legitimate claim to our protection. 
If the greatest concern to Mr Piper and others is the cost of our governments present policy they should be pressing for the closure of hugely expensive offshore detention centres and supporting the resettlement of genuine refugees in Australia where they can rebuild their lives and contribute to Australian society. 

Marlene Griffin  


letter to Alan Tudge Minister for Human Services - latest changes for asylum seekers

From: Mike
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 7:55 PM
Subject: Latest changes for asylum seekers

Dear Mr Tudge,
Over recent days, I have been reading about the government’s latest plans for asylum seekers and refugees who have been brought to Australia over a period of time to receive medical treatment.  My reaction, and the reaction of all those I have spoken to, including many of the 100 people who signed  a Rural Australians for Refugees petition at a market stall on Sunday, is one of anger and disbelief. You will be aware that, following widespread protests at earlier attempts to forcibly return this group to Nauru and Manus island, the government agreed to allow them to stay. One third of these people are children, some of them born here, and others attending school. Your government is now saying that their meagre allowance will cease as of yesterday, and that in three weeks’ time, they will be made deliberately homeless, in a cruel and inhumane bid to coerce them into leaving Australia. 
Where are these people expected to go? The detention centres on Nauru and Manus are both due to close in a matter of weeks, and the 370+ people in this group have been barred from seeking resettlement in the US. Attempting to coerce them into returning to their countries of origin amounts to refoulement, which, as you know, is forbidden under the Refugee Convention, to which Australia is a signatory. 
These people are living in our communities and are trying to rebuild their shattered lives.  How do you imagine they might feel on receiving a document which chillingly includes the following statement: “Please remind your children that they will also be required to abide by Australian values and laws. Breaking Australian laws may result in their removal from the community.”?
This is not about saving lives or protecting our borders. Nor is it about saving taxpayers’ money, given that it costs in excess of $500,000 per annum to torment a refugee in these offshore hell holes.  This is nothing more than yet another cruel and calculated ploy  designed to punish the most vulnerable in our society for political ends. You will be judged harshly by your electorate if you continue with this inhumane policy.
I urge you to reconsider this latest affront to the Australian values of compassion and humanity. Please, for once, put principle before political calculation, and allow these refugees to remain in Australia.
Yours sincerely,

Mike Griffin