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RAR Bellingen and Nambucca Newsletter October 29, 2019

Roadside demonstration: Thursday 31st October, Bellingen
Fundraising and fun event: Sunday 1st December from 11.30 am
News from the Refugee Council of Australia
Bomana prison, Port Moresby

Roadside demonstration: Thursday 31st October, Bellingen
Our next roadside demonstration will take place on Thursday 31st October from 2.30 to 4.00 pm on Waterfall Way in Bellingen. You will find us in our usual spot, opposite the entrance to the golf club, adjacent to the Yellow Shed. Please come and join us if you can. It is really important for us to keep the message about our government’s punitive and destructive refugee policy in the public eye. We have lots of banners and placards to share, so why not give it a go?
Fundraising and fun event: Sunday 1st December from 11.30 am
We are planning a final fundraising event for 2019, to take place on Sunday 1st December, starting at 11.30 am. We are calling it Bush, Beach and Bash! The plan is to gather at 39 Rogers Drive, Valla Beach, take a stroll through the Jagun nature reserve to the beach, have a brief walk on the beach and finally return to Rogers Drive for lunch at about 12.30 pm. You are asked to bring a plate to share and to make a $20 contribution to our fundraising for the Asylum Seekers Centre. Drinks will be provided.
If you don’t feel up to the Bush and Beach bits, then just come along to Rogers Drive at around 12.30, or earlier if you prefer to sit and have a chat. If it rains, we’ll simply get together to have an enjoyable end of year lunch and social. There will be a raffle!
As you will know, the Asylum Seekers Centre does vital work in support of asylum seekers in Sydney, providing advice, meals, English lessons, help with accommodation, interpreter services and much besides. They are totally dependent on groups like ours to maintain their services. So far this year we have donated $9,200 to support their work, and it would be great if we could get to $10,000.
Please put the date in your diary, and let Mike know if you are planning to attend, which we hope you will. Please email Mike at:

News from the Refugee Council of Australia
The following excerpt from the RCA’s latest newsletter illustrates perfectly the importance of
organisations like the Asylum Seekers Centre, as they struggle to provide basic care for asylum seekers.
Rosa* and Joseph* arrived in Australia and sought refugee protection immediately. They have three young children. After having secured employment, Joseph was able to support his family while they waited for a decision on their refugee claim. After injuring himself, he is no longer able to work, but cannot access assistance through the Status Resolution Support Services Program because of the government’s changes to the program.
Even though Rosa and Joseph submitted their protection application over two years ago, they are still waiting for an interview on their refugee claim. While they wait, they have no access to a basic living allowance to cover rent, food and medication for their sick toddler. They rely on community organisations to help pay their rent and get a small food parcel just once a week. Rosa and Joseph routinely skip meals so their children can eat. Not knowing where their children’s next meal will come from, or if they can pay for their child’s medicine, leaves both Rosa and Joseph facing overwhelming stress and anxiety - on top of their fears about whether they will be found to be owed protection.
Rosa and Joseph’s family are just one of thousands forced to navigate an extremely complex and often-changing protection process whilst struggling to survive.”
*not their real names.

Bomana prison, Port Moresby
In a recent interview on Radio New Zealand, the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG, Fr Giorgio Licini, spoke out strongly about the punitive regime in Bomana prison, where currently 47 men are being held in isolation. There were until recently 53 men in the prison, but six of them have been released, having signed forms to agree to repatriation to their home countries. Fr Licini has spoken to two of the six men, describing them as tired, exhausted, emaciated, and in very bad psychological shape. They are both Iranian, have been previously jailed in Iran because of their political activities, and expect to receive long jail terms on their return. Fr Licini states: “We tend to believe that the government of Australia is making life particularly harsh for them inside Bomana in order to convince them to sign for repatriations.” He goes on to say: “I maintain that this is an Australian initiative, it’s an Australian business, it’s Australian funded. Decisions are taken in Australia, not in PNG. Bomana is 100 percent the work of Australia.”
Our government’s policy of deliberate cruelty seems to be working. It is clear that our government is enforcing a level of brutality that it knows that it would not get away with in Australia. This is truly shameful.

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Government spends $30 million to detain single family on Christmas Island

"Australia has spent $30 million and is employing 100 staff to detain just one family on Christmas Island – who are fighting deportation to Sri Lanka.

The extraordinary cost of housing a Tamil family from the central Queensland town of Biloela was outlined in Senate estimates hearings on Monday night, as officials defended the decision to fly the family on a chartered jet to the island.

The decision to detain the family came despite the fact there are 62,000 unlawful non-citizens living like them in the community."

Read the article 

#bringthemhere  #seekingasylumisnotillegal  #sixyearstoolong


Bello Nambucca RAR Newsletter 22nd October 2019

Roadside demonstration report
Lies, damn lies, and Minister Dutton
Senator Jacqui Lambie and the medevac legislation  
Another tragic death
Roadside demonstration report
It rained for the first twenty minutes of our roadside demonstration in Coffs Harbour last Thursday, but we stuck it out, and eventually the sun appeared. We had a pretty good turnout, and the response from passing motorists was both overwhelmingly positive, and at times enthusiastic! We all agreed that these events are a great way to keep reminding people that there is a better and more humane way to meet our responsibilities to asylum seekers and refugees.
Our next demonstration will be in Bellingen on Thursday 31st October from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. You will find us at our usual location on Waterfall Way, opposite the entrance to the golf club, adjacent to the Yellow Shed. Please come and join us if you can.

Lies, damn lies, and Minister Dutton
Minister Dutton has taken every opportunity in recent months to try to convince Australians
that it is vitally important for our safety and security that the medevac legislation be repealed. He has repeatedly stated that the medevac law allows murderers, rapists and paedophiles to come to Australia and that the government is powerless to prevent these people arriving on our shores. He told Sky News some months ago that: “people of bad character can come, are able to come and, in fact, are required to come under Labor’s law that they passed. That’s the reality”. The medevac legislation was in fact introduced to parliament by the independent MPs Dr Kerryn Phelps and Andrew Wilkie. Dutton’s frequent statements on TV and radio about his powerlessness to intervene are simply untrue. Under the legislation, the minister can refuse to transfer someone if “the Minister reasonably believes that transferring the person would harm Australia’s security” or “the person has a substantial criminal record and the Minister reasonably believes that the person would expose the Australian community to a serious risk of criminal conduct.”
Last week, Minister Dutton used his powers for the first time to override doctors’ recommendations to transfer an individual, exactly as the law allows. His decision is final and cannot be reviewed.
In the recent Senate review of the legislation, only Dutton’s department put forward a submission in favour of repealing the medevac law.

Senator Jacqui Lambie and the medevac legislation
It is now very clear that Senator Lambie’s vote on the possible repeal of the medevac legislation will be crucial. She is under enormous pressure from government ministers to back the repeal of the legislation, but to her great credit, she has consistently maintained that she will read all the submissions to the Senate enquiry, together with the enquiry reports, and that she will not enter into any deals for Tasmania on this issue. In a recent interview, she stated: “I think any decision over humanity is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.” She is, of course, right, and it is therefore critically important that we, and others, convince her that the only humane response to the government’s push to repeal the legislation is to refuse to support it. The legislation, by all accounts, is helping to save lives, is ensuring that sick people access the treatment that they need, and ensures that decisions about treatment are in the hands of doctors and not bureaucrats. There are sufficient checks and balances in the current law to ensure that requests for medical transfers are properly assessed and, if necessary, reviewed. As we have seen in recent days, the Minister does have the power to intervene on character or security grounds.
If you have not already done so, could you please email Senator Lambie at: to urge her to resist the government’s bid to repeal the medevac legislation. Alternatively, you could phone her office on: 03 6431 3112. You can find a sample letter to Senator Lambie by clicking on the link to our blog at the bottom of this newsletter. 

Another tragic death
Last week, an Afghan asylum seeker, who was a qualified doctor, died in Brisbane. It is
believed that he took his own life. Sayed Mirwais Rohani had been held for four years on Manus Island before being transferred to Australia for medical treatment. He was just 32 years old. His is the 13th death of a person sent to Manus island or Nauru by our government. We keep on saying: “how many more deaths will it take before our government brings to an end the cruel policy of indefinite offshore detention?” But our government does not listen, and seems not to care.


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 >670 recipients
Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam
Email address

The National RAR web site is at 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

Two Letters to Senator Lambie

Dear Senator Lambie

I write to you for the 1st time to ask you not to back the appeal.

I truly believe that Peter Dutton's claims are simply not true: that by allowing the legislation to stay we are compromising our security and letting "bad people" into Australia.

I am a mother, grandmother and great grandmother and the daughter of holocaust survivors. I have worked for 54 years, since I was 15. I have seen a lot, learnt a lot, been through some bloody hard times and I am not perfect but I do know this: that our humanity as individuals and as a nation must be upheld regarding the welfare and well being of other humans.

No-one asks to be a refugee. No one wants war or to lose their loved ones, to have to leave their country but when these things happen people do the same as we would do if we were in this situation: they get away, they seek safety and a better life. That doesn't make them bad people.

My family came here with nothing and made a good life (my father started the 1st credit union in Australia) but the mental scars of their trauma continued for the rest of their lives.

I simply cannot not write to you Jacqui and I ask from the depth of my being that you do not support this appeal.

For the life of me I cannot understand how people who call themselves Christian can make a virtue out of being cruel, of lacking empathy and don't have the capacity to put themselves in other people's shoes.  And yet they are making these decisions and turning our wonderful country into a very dehumanising place.

People are suffering mental and physical anguish by being kept indefinitely in detention but to then not even get medical attention is just not acceptable in my view.

I realise you are in a very difficult situation and must be having a lot of pressure put on you. I hope that you are getting the support you need and are being treated respectfully. I wish you well.

warm regards

Dianne ...........
October 22  2019

Dear Senator Lambie,

I listened with interest to your interview on RN this morning, and I
was very pleased to hear you say that you would not be seeking any special deals for Tasmania in return for your vote, and that you will cast your vote based on your assessment of the merits of the legislation.

I strongly urge you to resist the government’s demands for the repeal of the Medevac legislation.  The arrangements are doing exactly what they were intended to do, that is to put the medical needs of sick people before the political interests of the governing parties. It is surely doctors, rather than bureaucrats, who should make decisions in relation to sick people.  The medical panel set up by the government is operating effectively, and the Minister reserves the right to reject a medical transfer on security grounds.

Many hundreds of people have been brought to Australia from offshore detention for urgent treatment. The arrangements have not resulted in the people smugglers renewing their trade. Likewise, the resettlement of hundreds of refugees from Manus and Nauru in the US has not created a “pull” factor.

Please resist Minister Dutton’s scare tactics. Do the right thing, and vote against this utterly unnecessary piece of legislation.

Yours sincerely,

Mike ......
Valla Beach NSW 2448


RAR Rally outside Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Thursday, Oct 17rall

Pics from Thursday, October 17, 2019. This roadside demonstration on the Pacific Highway at Coffs Harbour received lots of positive 'toots' and waves from passing motorists.


Letter to Minister Dutton

Mr Dutton,

What can you possibly gain by continuing the incarceration of the family Biloela on Christmas Island?

Surely they could at least wait out the time of review in humane conditions.

The cost in terms of dollars must be extraordinary but the cost in terms of displaying total lack of compassion goes against all common decency. Criminals in our prisons are treated better.

Please end this outrageous injustice. Give them an opportunity for a new life. I’m sure they will be exemplary citizens.

The following quote from the Harvard Political Review in the USA is a critical indictment of our government’s attitude:

“Australia’s policy of holding refugees in indefinite detention breaks international human right law, taints its international standing, and undermines its credibility when denouncing other nations for the same crimes.”

A serious rethink on your part is due.
Please hear the people.

Yours sincerely

Anne Joyce

Bellingen Nambucca RAR Newsletter Tuesday October 8

Roadside demonstration report

Valla Beach market report

The government response to our recent open letter

The “Biloela” family: the UN speaks out

Australia’s refugee policies: a view from the US

Roadside demonstration report
We had another good turnout of supporters for last week’s roadside demonstration next to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. Two members of our group calculated that, during the one and a half hours of our vigil, at least 4500 vehicles passed us as they travelled north. That’s a lot of people receiving, and perhaps reflecting on, our message to end offshore detention and to treat refugees with humanity and compassion.
Our next demonstration will take place on Thursday 17th October from 2.30 to 4.00 pm by the Pacific Highway, opposite the base hospital in Coffs Harbour. Please come and join us if you can.

Valla Beach market report
A big thank you to all our supporters who turned out to help at our market stall on Saturday. It was a rather cool, windy and overcast morning, but there were nonetheless plenty of visitors milling about, given that it was both school holidays and the hotrodders festival.
Our next stall will be at the Bellingen market on Saturday 16th November. Please put the date in your diaries and come along to sign our open letter.

The government response to our recent open letter
In recent days we finally received a response from the Department of Home Affairs to our open letter to the Prime MInister about the New Zealand offer to accept refugees from Manus and Nauru. You will recall that the letter was signed by 1520 people. As usual, the Department of Home Affairs seeks to paint a picture of a government that is doing all the right things in relation to the treatment of refugees and in protecting our borders. Just as in many earlier letters, the DHA asserts that the responsibility for the refugees and asylum seekers in PNG and Nauru lies with the respective governments, when the reality is, of course, that they are the responsibility of the Australian government, which funds and overseas the whole enterprise. You can read the letter on our Facebook page and on our blog.

The “Biloela” family: the UN speaks out
You will be aware that the Tamil family from Biloela in Queensland are currently being held in detention on Christmas island. They have now been held in locked detention since May 2018. They have been told that the review of the asylum claim for their youngest child Tharnicaa will take many months and that in the meantime they will remain in the detention centre, where they are living in complete isolation and surrounded by guards. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has, in recent days, written to the Australian government asking it to end the “existing situation of detention” for the family, and requested that they be moved “into a community setting arrangement.” 
Australia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but the UN cannot force the government to comply with the request. Any positive action on the part of the government is therefore, sadly, unlikely. Earlier, Minister Dutton, in spite of the evidence to the contrary, asserted that the family was living in the community on Christmas island. A friend of the family, Angela Fredericks, who has advocated tirelessly for them, had this to say: “The government say they are committed to upholding the rule of law both internationally and domestically, so therefore we would expect them to comply with this measure as this basically is a directive coming from the international community.”
If you would like to protest about the ongoing mistreatment of the family, then please phone Minister Dutton’s office on : 02 6277 7860 or email:

Australia’s refugee policies: a view from the US
The Harvard Political Review published a most interesting article last week on Australia’s refugee policies. The author reminds us that Australia is a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, its Protocol, and multiple other human rights treaties. Australia also has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and is one of five countries making up the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In spite of this, Australia has turned back boats to countries where their passengers might face harm, such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam, where asylum seekers have been arrested, interrogated, tortured and jailed. Unsurprisingly, our government’s policies have been widely condemned by UN agencies and other international groups. In addition, Australia’s policy of holding refugees in indefinite detention breaks international human right law, taints its international standing, and undermines its credibility when denouncing other nations for the same crimes. As one contributor puts it: “From a UNHCR perspective, it was always very unfortunate that Australia was not setting the example that the organisation hoped it would set in that region, be a leader for promoting refugee protection and respect for refugee principles.”
You can read the full article here:

Check out the index of subjects on our blog

It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.


Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

Email address


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The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook


Smoke and Mirrors:Harvard Political Review

By Jack Taylor | October 2, 2019
On June 26, President Trump tweeted that “much can be learned” from Australia’s refugee policies. Other leaders, including Italy’s Matteo Salvini and The Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, have also expressed admiration for Australia’s deterrence-based refugee policies. The numbers are convincing. In the seven years before the Liberal government’s Operation Sovereign Borders took effect, approximately 50,000 asylum seekers sought to enter Australia by boat and approximately 1,100 died at sea. Since Sovereign Borders, only two boats have reached mainland Australia, and there have been no known deaths at sea. So, is President Trump right? Does Australia provide the answer for countries wishing to deter asylum seekers, who risk their lives and the lives of their children to reach safer shores?
Australia says that asylum seekers are welcome by the front door but not the back. Operation Sovereign Borders, the highly politicized, catch-all name attached to Australian border policy, ensures it. Operation Sovereign Borders is actually a package of legislation, featuring bills introduced by lawmakers from across the political spectrum. Most notably, it mandates that boats be turned back, and that asylum seekers undergo mandatory offshore detention until those who receive refugee status can be relocated to a third country and those who do not can be sent back home. Asylum seekers arriving by boat are met at sea by the Australian Border Force Unit, which streams video interviews of the asylum seekers back to mainland border officials who attempt to determine whether the migrants are technically refugees. If the officials conducting the interviews determine the arrivals are in fact genuine refugees, the boat is brought to a processing center — which, importantly, is not on Australian soil. Australia has opened multiple offshore processing centers in nearby territories as well as countries like Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
If none of the asylum seekers are found to be genuine refugees, the boats are turned back. And the Border Force Unit has turned back every boat it has come across in the past two years, suggesting that there has not been a single genuine refugee among the asylum seekers arriving by sea in that time. Amnesty International, which has been highly critical of Australia’s refugee policy, notes that few asylum seekers fleeing by boat will have the documentation they need to prove their case while at sea, and reports that there have been multiple accounts of poor connectivity in the video links.

Go to complete Harvard Political Review article 
Abrogating Responsibility
Under international law, though, it is not an option for Australia to assist asylum seekers arriving on its borders — it is an obligation. Australia, like most other countries, is a party to the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, its Protocol, and multiple other human rights treaties. Australia also has a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, and is one of five countries making up the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. These international treaties and the multilateral institutions they emanate from seek to protect refugees from arbitrary detention, refoulement — repatriation to a country where refugees could be in danger of persecution — and physical and psychological torture.
In an interview with the HPR, Josh Watkins, a professor of global studies at the National University of Singapore who specializes in borders and border security, noted: “From the advent of the Pacific Solution in 2001, through its reincarnation in Operation Sovereign Borders, Australia’s asylum seeker policies have been condemned by UNHCR, Amnesty International, and scores of other commentators as being unnecessarily draconian.”
Erika Feller, assistant high commissioner to the UNHCR from 2006 to 2013 and a professor of government at Melbourne University, expressed that concern in an interview with the HPR. She explained that Australia’s deterrence-based asylum seeker policy “flies in the face of international treaties. Deterrence is not a mechanism that is envisaged in the 1951 Refugee Convention and it runs counter to it.”
 Even after ratifying international non-refoulement agreements, Australia has turned boats back to countries where their passengers might face harm, such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam, where asylum seekers have been arrested, interrogated, tortured, and jailed. Many of the other Asia-Pacific transit countries which receive these turnbacks are not party to refugee and human rights treaties and do not have the legal or financial capacity to protect asylum seekers. As a consequence, asylum seekers find themselves in regions where they have no rights and may face persecution and imprisonment. Meanwhile, the Australian government does not document the asylum seekers sent away in these boat turnbacks; as a result, it remains impossible to hold Australia accountable for the plight of those refugees who are persecuted upon return to their home countries. 
 Australia’s system of mandatory and indefinite detention blatantly violates its obligations to protect asylum seekers. Australia has been condemned by a working group of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council for 51 counts of illegally holding refugees in indefinite detention, some for as long as nine years. The average length of arbitrary detention for a refugee who arrived in Australia by boat was 511 days. Australia’s policy of holding refugees in indefinite detention breaks international human rights law, taints its international standing, and undermines its credibility when denouncing other nations for the same crimes.
 In an interview with the HPR, Mary Crock, a professor of law at the University of Sydney and the author of nine books on refugees, noted that “from the time mandatory detention became law in 1992 there was increased dissonance between Australia’s international legal obligations and our domestic law and practice … Our relationship with international human rights law became increasingly fractured and problematic.”
 Refugees have undergone significant human rights abuses in Australia’s offshore detention centers. Human rights organizations report the absence of physical liberty, medical attention, and proper security on Manus and Nauru islands. Twelve men have died while in detention — one of them immolated himself during a U.N. monitoring visit. Since the Australian election in May, there have also been at least 26 cases of self-harm or attempted suicide on Nauru and Manus — in desperation, asylum seekers have cut themselves, gone on hunger strikes, swallowed rocks, and even sown their own lips shut. These cases were not recorded by any Australian institution until Monash University created a database of border-related deaths in 2010. To this day, no government authority collects any information on asylum seekers who have died while attempting to enter Australia, while in detention, or shortly after their release.
Go to complete Harvard Political Review article


Our Valla Market Stall

Where we collected many more signatures from concerned Australians with our new open letter to the Australian Prime Minister...

Come and have a chat with our RAR stall staff when next you see us.


Open Letter to PM Morrison & Reply

  The Department of Home Affairs response to our open letter, signed by 1520 people, paints, as usual, a rosy picture of a government which is committed to upholding its international obligations and to caring appropriately for refugees.  The reality, of course, is very different. As always, the government seeks to distance itself from any responsibility for the refugees and asylum seekers languishing in PNG and on Nauru, in spite of the fact that it funds the whole terrible process and has oversight of everything that happens. Utterly shameful, but completely unsurprising.   


Dear Prime Minister,
9th September 2019

Please find enclosed an open letter, addressed to yourself, and signed by 1520 Australian citizens. Their signatures were collected in recent times at local markets and other venues around Australia by members of Rural Australians for Refugees. The letter reads:

“Almost every day we read about the ongoing suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees who continue to languish indefinitely on Manus and Nauru. We are dismayed and deeply saddened by reports of self-harm and attempted suicides by people whose spirits have been crushed by years of detention, and who can see no hope for the future. This cannot continue.

We therefore ask that you urgently enter into discussions with the New Zealand government, with a view to accepting their generous offer to resettle 150 refugees annually from Manus and Nauru. It is important to us that you demonstrate by your actions that you are prepared to treat these people with compassion and humanity.”

We lost count a long time ago of the number of visitors to our local market stalls who tell us that they feel deeply ashamed to be Australian, as they observe the gratuitous and ongoing suffering inflicted on the detainees on Nauru and in PNG. It is surely time to put this shameful chapter in our history behind us. The New Zealand government’s generous and compassionate gesture offers a positive way forward. We therefore urge you to accept this offer to resettle the refugees and to expedite the closure of all offshore detention facilities without delay.

                                                                                                                                                                        Yours sincerely,

Mike ..............
                                                                                                                                                                         Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR                           

The Reply

Dear Mr Griffin 

Thank you for your correspondence of 9 September 2019 to the
Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, enclosing a signed open letter concerning the Australian Government’s regional processing and resettlement arrangements. Your correspondence has been referred to the Minister for Home Affairs, the
Hon Peter Dutton MP, as the matter raised falls within his portfolio responsibilities.

The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring these matters to his attention and has asked that I reply on his behalf.

As a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (the Refugee Convention), Australia takes its international obligations seriously. Australia is committed to providing protection to refugees consistent with the obligations set out in the Refugee Convention and other relevant international treaties to which Australia is a party. 

The Government works closely with the Governments of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru to ensure transferees continue to be provided with a range of health, welfare and support services, including extensive physical and mental healthcare provisions, free accommodation and utilities, allowances and employment services. Where specialist medical treatment is not available in PNG or Nauru, mechanisms are in place for temporary transfers to a third country for treatment, including Australia. 

People under regional processing arrangements are treated with respect and dignity and in accordance with international human rights standards. Their protection claims are assessed by the Governments of PNG and Nauru and are undertaken in accordance with each countries respective laws and processes. 

Under regional processing arrangements, refugees have permanent resettlement options and are being resettled. People found to be refugees by the Government of PNG can settle in PNG, express an interest in US resettlement, seek assisted voluntary return or move to a country they have the right to reside in. 

People found to be refugees by the Government of Nauru can stay in Nauru for 20 years, express an interest in US resettlement, apply for an assisted voluntary return package or move to a country they have the right to reside in.

Australia appreciates the offer from the New Zealand Government to resettle refugees, however we are focused on completing the larger arrangement with the United States (US). Australia’s border protection policies have removed the incentive for people to join dangerous and illegal people smuggling ventures to Australia. The Government remains mindful of not undoing efforts to combat people smuggling. 

A total of 4,183 illegal maritime arrivals were transferred to offshore processing under the previous government. Today, there are no refugees in detention under offshore processing and as at 30 September 2019, 632 refugees have been resettled under the Government’s resettlement arrangement with the US. 

Regional processing is a key pillar of Operation Sovereign Borders and supports the Government’s strong border protection policies. These policies have successfully stemmed the flow of illegal maritime ventures to Australia, disrupted people smuggling activities in the region and prevented loss of life at sea. 

The success of Australia’s border protection policies has also enabled the Government to make a generous contribution to addressing the global humanitarian crisis and increase our Humanitarian Programme annual quota to 18,750 places, this represents the largest ongoing program in over 30 years. 

Thank you for bringing your concerns to the Government’s attention. Yours sincerely 

Regional Processing and Resettlement 4 October 2019

4 National Circuit Barton ACT 2600
PO Box 25 Belconnen ACT 2616 • Telephone: 02 6264 1111 •