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Newsletter for 13 February 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Roadside Demo - Big Banana Coffs February 22nd 2:30pm
Next Market - Coffs Harbourside Sun 18th February
Fundraiser film, Hope Road, showing 4th March
Support Services International 
Judicial intervention to protect child on Nauru

Roadside demonstration report

We held a very successful roadside demonstration in Toormina last Thursday, with overwhelming support from passing motorists. It must surely be the case that a majority of Australians now understand that the cruelty and futility of offshore detention must be brought to an end. The present policy, however, given the Labor opposition’s support for  the status quo, can only be changed through pressure from the Australian public, and our actions are a part of that. A big thank you to all who came along to join the demo. Our next demo will be in Coffs Harbour, in front of the Big Banana on Thursday 22nd February from 2.30 until 4.00 pm. Please come and join us if you can.

Next market stall: Coffs Harbour. Sunday 18th February

A reminder that our next market stall is this coming Sunday 18th February at the Coffs Harbourside market, from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. The market has now returned to its original site close to the jetty and we are looking forward to our first stall at the recently upgraded venue. We are looking for people to lend a hand between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, so if you can spare an hour or two, then please let Mike know by emailing him at: We have our new open letter to Bill Shorten for people to sign, new leaflets to hand out and lots of merchandise to sell on behalf of the Asylum Seekers Centre.

Hope Road : screening in Bellingen on Sunday 4th March at 2.00 pm

A further reminder that we will be screening Hope Road at the Bellingen Memorial Hall on Sunday 4th March, and we do hope that lots of you will come along to see the film, to meet with fellow supporters of refugees and to help us raise much-needed funds for the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown. You will find a poster advertising the film attached to this newsletter. It would be greatly appreciated if you could print it and display it in your workplace, your local community centre, a local shop, or anywhere that might attract people’s attention. Please put the date in your diary.

Support Services International: an invitation

A number of our supporters have asked about the work of Support Services International, the not-for-profit organisation which has responsibility for helping refugees to settle in Coffs Harbour. One of our longstanding supporters, Michael Blockey, who organises a U3A course in Nambucca Heads, has arranged for Vigeeta Chauhan, who works for SSI, to give a talk to his Philosophers’ Cafe group  at their next session on Monday 19th February.  The group meets in the small hall of the Nambucca Community and Arts Centre, which is located on Ridge Street in Nambucca Heads, between the post office and the library. Michael will give an introductory talk on the journeys of asylum seekers fro their country of origin to Australia, and Vigeeta will then talk about the practical work of SSI in Coffs Harbour. The session starts at 10.00 am and finishes at midday.  A warm welcome is extended to all RAR members. There is a minimal charge to cover the cost of refreshments and the hall hire.

Judge intervenes to protect child refugee on Nauru

In yet another sorry example of our government’s cruel policy and its complete indifference to people’s suffering, it took the intervention of a judge to insist that a young girl be brought to Australia for treatment for her extreme mental health condition. The child, not yet a teenager, had been held on Nauru since arriving by boat in 2013, and had made multiple attempts on her life. Our government, in the face of detailed evidence to the contrary, continued to maintain the lie that the child could be safely treated as an outpatient at the Nauru hospital. The judge disagreed, stating: “The evidence indicates that the applicant’s psychiatric condition is very serious, that she poses an extreme suicide risk, and that her condition is such that she should be immediately admitted into a specialist child mental health facility for assessment and treatment.” It is deeply shameful that , firstly, the child’s serious mental health condition is a direct result of our government’s policy to punish and break people, and secondly that our government then should seek to deny the child access to appropriate care.
As a result of the intervention by George Newhouse, principal solicitor with the National Justice Project, the child is now receiving treatment in Australia.
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