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Bello Nambucca RAR Newsletter 17th December 2019

Christmas Island

Roadside demonstration report
Our fundraising total for 2019
News from National RAR committee
Refugees in limbo
Our first market stall of 2020
Christmas Island
And finally…

Roadside demonstration report
Our final roadside demonstration for 2019 took place last Thursday in Coffs Harbour. As usual, the response from passing motorists was overwhelmingly supportive, which should not surprise us, given that survey after survey indicates that the majority of Australians want the cruelty of offshore detention to end, and want the government to accept the New Zealand offer to take refugees from Nauru and PNG. One of our supporters asked the question: “I wonder if we will still be doing this next December?” The only way we can achieve a “no” to that question is to redouble our efforts in 2020 to bring this shameful chapter in our history to an end. We hope therefore that more supporters will take part in our campaigning next year.
Our first roadside demonstration of 2020 will take place on Waterfall Way in Bellingen on Thursday 16th January from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. You will find us opposite the entrance to the golf club, near to the Yellow Shed. Why not make a New Year’s resolution to join us?

Our fundraising total for 2019
At the beginning of the year, we had a tentative target of $10,000 to support the Asylum Seekers Centre in Sydney. As you will be aware, the ASC supports hundreds of asylum seekers in Sydney as they wait, seemingly indefinitely, to have their claims for protection to be processed, whilst living very precariously in the community. The ASC provides people with essential support, ranging from meals, English lessons, legal advice, financial support, equipment for children starting school, help in securing housing and employment, and much besides. They are entirely dependent on donations to keep the service going.
Throughout the year, we have raised funds through a range of activities: musical events, auctions, lunches, raffles, the sale of merchandise, and individual donations. Every dollar that we have raised has been donated to the ASC, apart from $160 sent to National RAR committee to cover our insurance and to support their operation. This week, we have transferred $3,000 to the ASC, making the total for the year an amazing $12,200. That’s a great result, and we would like to thank everyone who has supported our fundraising efforts in any way during 2019. The ASC’s Jaclyn Dunn responded: “Thank you so much for your email! What fantastic news. I am blown away by what Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR have done this year. Surpassing your fundraising target by $2,200 is amazing. These funds will help ASC provide vital services to many people. Many thanks to you and everyone involved.”

Our big challenge now is to come up with some new ideas to raise funds in 2020. If you have a bright idea to share, and you are prepared to roll your sleeves up to make it happen, then please let Mike know by emailing him at:

News from National RAR committee
The RAR National Conference will take place in July 2020 in the Blue Mountains, and the draft programme will be posted on the web site shortly. There will be a strong focus on breakout sessions, together with a number of keynote speakers. The last conference, held in Albury in 2018, and attended by three members of our group, was hugely successful and inspiring. Look out for the details of the 2020 conference on the National RAR web site.
Two members of the National committee have had to step down for personal reasons. This means there is an opportunity for two RAR members to step up and join the National Committee for the rest of the year - up to the July AGM. The committee meets via Zoom (on-line) twice a month on Wednesday evenings (AEST) from 6.00 to 7.30 pm. Please contact Louise at if you would like to discuss this.

Refugees in limbo
A world-first study tracking 1100 refugees over three years has found that people who come to Australia seeking asylum are nearly two and a half times more likely to think about killing themselves or to believe that they would be “better off dead” than those with more secure visas. People with insecure visa status are also two to four times more likely than secure visa holders to have been tortured and imprisoned, and to have witnessed friends, family and strangers being raped, assaulted and killed. Those on insecure visas also faced more stress once they arrived in Australia, which was exacerbated by their experiences in detention. Nearly all were terrified of being sent home and most worried about those they had left behind.
These findings should surprise no one. Our government’s punitive asylum policy is focused on making life as difficult and stressful as possible for those seeking protection on our shores. That’s the key reason that our current open letter to the Prime Minister, in which we argue for the return of permanent protection visas, which the Abbott government replaced with temporary visas in 2014. As we state in the letter, which has so far attracted 500 signatures at our market stalls: “These temporary visas, whether TPVs or SHEVs, leave refugees in a permanent state of anxiety, when what they so urgently need is a sense of security to enable them to rebuild their lives.” 

Our first market stall of 2020
Please note that our first market stall of 2020 will be at the Bellingen market on Saturday 18th January from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. We hope to see you there.

Christmas Island

The politicians have isolated Priya, Nades and their QLD-born girls on Christmas Island, 5,000km from their Biloela home. They are now facing their second Christmas in detention.
Today, please post a card with a message of hope and compassion to Priya & Nades, c/- Phosphate Hill Immigration Detention Facility, Christmas Island, 6798.
It can take two months for ordinary mail to reach Christmas Island. To help your card arrive in time, make sure you add a 50c Australia Post Priority Label:
Thank you to everyone who has offered to send gifts to Christmas Island. Because of the limited capacity for mail on the twice weekly flights to Christmas Island, a simple card is the best way to show your support right now. Rest assured a ‘Christmas care package’ has already been sent from Bilo.

And finally...
This is our last newsletter for 2019. We will now take a break for a couple of weeks. Our next newsletter will appear in your inbox on Tuesday 7th January. A huge thank you to you all for your support and commitment during the past year. Our work is not over, and we will need to return, refreshed, in 2020 to keep up the fight for justice for refugees and asylum seekers whose lives and wellbeing have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency for so many years.

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