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Letter: the Australian detention centre with four asylum seekers and a $26m price tag

The Guardian's Article
Dear Editor,

Christmas Island Detention Centre has been used to house refugees in prison like conditions for many years. At the moment it is empty except for one family of four. They are Sri Lankan refugees , a mother, father and two small children .

The family was happily settled in a Queensland town of Biloela but were transported in a dawn raid in 2018 to a Melbourne Detention Centre and following this in August of 2019 they were sent to Christmas Island.

The detention centre on Christmas island had been closed but was re-opened recently at a cost of $26 million to the Australian tax payer. At the moment there are 109 staff members at the centre including 9 medical workers and two officers of the Australian Border Force. All these salaried staff members are funded by our Government and so indirectly by ourselves to oversee the detention of this one family of four .

It is not safe for this family to return to Sri Lanka . As Tamils they would be likely to face torture, abductions or worse. It is clearly in the best interests of the family to return to their home in Queensland. The family were self supporting in their community with the father in work in a job that was necessary to their struggling rural town. They are the kind of people our country needs. They present no threat to our security.

The cruel and callous  treatment of this family once again demonstrates the lack of humanity and empathy at the heart of our governments asylum policy.
It is time for some compassion in our treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
We need to see a change in this shameful Government policy .

Bring this family home and save millions of dollars now being spent on their detention.

Marlene Griffin

Valla Beach 

See also The Guardian's
"The sole occupants of a million-dollar facility off the country’s coast are two adults and two small children, who are paying the price for its war on refugees"


Bello Nambucca RAR Newsletter 21st January 2020

Roadside demonstration report

Bellingen market report

Letter to the Prime Minister

Update on Bomana prison, Port Moresby

New open letter

Roadside demonstration report
Our demonstration in Bellingen last Thursday attracted hugely positive responses both from passing motorists and from people walking by. Whilst it is understandable that, after six years, people might grow weary of feeling the need to stand regularly at the roadside to remind the public about our government’s heartless and cruel asylum policy, there are two powerful reasons for continuing with our campaign. Firstly, our government has been forced to respond to this kind of public pressure about the treatment of refugees: there are now no children detained on Nauru, and the Manus island detention centre has closed. Secondly, it is intolerable that so many refugees – including some 220 men in PNG - remain in limbo, and in poor health, after being detained since 2013. We simply have to keep up the fight for their freedom. Please consider joining us at our roadside demonstrations to help maintain the pressure.
Our upcoming demonstrations are as follows:
Thursday 30th January: Big Banana, Coffs Harbour
Thursday 13th February: Opposite the base hospital, Coffs Harbour
Thursday 27th February: Waterfall Way, Bellingen
Thursday 12th March: Big Banana, Coffs Harbour
Thursday 26th March: Opposite the base hospital, Coffs Harbour.
All the demonstrations run from 2.30 to 4.00 pm

Bellingen market report

Bellingen has received some much-needed rain in recent days, which resulted in the organisers cancelling Saturday’s market, so we have nothing to report!
Our next market stall will be at Valla Beach market on Saturday 1st February from 9.00 am until 1.00 pm. If you are able to help out for an hour or two, then please let Mike know by emailing him at:

Letter to the Prime Minister
This week we finally sent off the open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 575 supporters at our market stalls, calling on the government to end the practice of issuing Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) to refugees who have been found to be in need of protection under international law. The normal practice across the world is for refugees, once their asylum claims have been investigated and validated, to be given permanent protection, so that they can rebuild their lives in a new country. The current policy, reintroduced by the Abbott government, leaves refugees in a permanent state of uncertainty and anxiety. It is driven by political rather than humanitarian considerations. You can find the letter on our blog letters page.

New open letter
We have a new open letter to the Prime Minister, which we had planned to launch at the Bellingen market, but which we will now launch at the Valla Beach market on 1st February. The focus is very much on the plight of the asylum seekers and refugees who remain in limbo in PNG, and who our government is keen for us to forget about. You can view the open letter on our blog letters page. If you would like a copy of the petition, so that you can collect signatures from family and friends, then please email Mike at: Just think, if 50 supporters each collected just 10 signatures, that would really boost our efforts!

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

Temporary Protection Visas: Sample Letter to Prime Minister

                                                                                                                                                20th January 2020
Dear Prime Minister,
Please find enclosed an open letter, addressed to yourself, and signed by 574 Australian citizens. Their signatures were collected in recent times at local markets by members of our local Rural Australians for Refugees group. The letter reads:
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the government’s continued use of temporary protection visas for people arriving in Australia who are subsequently found to be genuine refugees and who therefore are entitled to protection. Under international law, temporary protection visas should only be used in exceptional circumstances. They should not be used as a policy response to target people who simply arrive on our shores without a valid visa. These temporary visas, whether TPVs or SHEVs, leave refugees in a permanent state of uncertainty and anxiety, when what they so urgently need is a sense of security to enable them to rebuild their lives. The restrictions imposed by these temporary visas, not least the ban on family reunion, present enormous and unnecessary barriers to successful resettlement. The mental health impacts of this policy are well documented.
We call on the government to end this cruel practice and to provide permanent protection visas for all refugees who currently hold TPVs or SHEVs.
A number of us have refugee friends and acquaintances who have TPVs. They make a positive contribution to Australian society and to their local communities. Their children work hard at school and are determined to succeed in their studies. But their lives are full of uncertainty and anxiety about what the future may hold for them because of the temporary nature of their visas.
We do not need to treat people in this way. Temporary protection visas serve no useful humanitarian purpose, and they should be scrapped, as they were by a previous Labor government. We need to allow these people to get on with their lives in Australia, without the fear of having to go through the whole process of revisiting their protection claims every three or five years.
Please show some empathy and humanity by abandoning this completely unnecessary and harmful policy.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Yours sincerely, 

Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR


Bello Nambucca RAR Newsletter 7th January 2020

Welcome back, on a sombre note
Market calendar for 2020
First roadside demonstration of 2020: Bellingen, 16th January, 2.30 to 4.00 pm
A thank you letter from the ASC
Campaigning in 2020

Welcome back, on a sombre note

As the New Year gets under way, many parts of New South Wales and Victoria are in flames. It is so sad to learn about the tragic loss of life, and to witness the scenes of the destruction of communities, the loss of homes and infrastructure, and the death of livestock and wildlife. Our brave firefighters, who include a number of our regular supporters, must be exhausted, and the devastation is by no means over yet. We can only hope that the belated actions of our government will finally deliver the level of support that the firefighters, the support services and the communities need to battle the fires and to rebuild the homes and communities that have been destroyed.

Market calendar for 2020
You might want to put the dates for our 2020 markets in your diaries. Note that the Bellingen and Valla Beach markets take place on a Saturday, and the Coffs Harbourside markets are held on Sundays. At this point, the dates for the Coffs Harbourside markets are provisional.
January 18th: Bellingen
February 1st: Valla Beach
March 8th: Coffs Harbour
March 21st: Bellingen
April 4th: Valla Beach
April 26th: Coffs Harbour
May 16th: Bellingen
June 6th: Valla Beach
July 18th: Bellingen
August 1st: Valla Beach
August 23rd: Coffs Harbour
September 19th: Bellingen
October 3rd: Valla Beach
November 1st: Coffs Harbour
November 21st: Bellingen
December 5th: Valla Beach
If you can help out at the Bellingen market on 18th January for an hour or two between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, then please let Mike know by emailing him at: We have been allocated site C33.

First roadside demonstration of 2020: Bellingen, 16th January,
2.30 to 4.00 pm
Our first roadside demonstration of the year will take place on Thursday 16th January on Waterfall Way, Bellingen, from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. You will find us at our usual spot adjacent to the Yellow Shed, near the entrance to the golf club. Please come and join us if you can, and help us to remind people that the suffering of refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention continues unabated. We have lots of banners and placards to share, and it would be wonderful to welcome some new supporters to these events.

A thank you letter from the ASC
In recent days, we were delighted to receive this formal letter of thanks from the Asylum Seekers Centre, in recognition of our fundraising success:
Thank you from the Asylum Seekers Centre
On behalf of the Asylum Seekers Centre, I would like to thank everyone involved with the Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts for your tremendous work supporting our centre. Your advocacy and fundraising efforts have made a profound difference in the lives of people seeking asylum. In the past few years, you have raised more than $20,000 for the Asylum Seekers Centre. In 2019 alone, you contributed an amazing $12,200. These funds were quickly put to good use and helped us provide a variety of services to more than 4,000 people seeking asylum. It costs $50 to provide someone with a complete set of work safety equipment, $150 for three months of travel to employment, $500 for a month of childcare and $1000 for a new pre-employment workshop. The funds you have raised have helped many families access employment opportunities as well as food, emergency accommodation and health services. Thank you for opening your hearts to people seeking asylum in Australia. Members of Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts should be proud of what you have contributed in recent years. You have made our community a kinder, safer and more inclusive place. The Asylum Seekers Centre is proud to be a partner and beneficiary of RAR Bellingen and Nambucca and looks forward to further collaboration in 2020. 
Jaclyn Dunn, Community Engagement Coordinator 

Please look out for details of fundraising events that we hope will take shape in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, if anybody out there has a fundraising proposal that they would be happy to lead on, with help from our hardworking team, then please let us know. What about a garage sale, that supporters could contribute to? All ideas are welcome and will be considered.

Campaigning in 2020

In addition to our market stalls and roadside demonstrations, we intend to continue our campaigning for justice and humanity for refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention or in Australia awaiting the outcome of their protection claims. We plan to have a new open letter for our market in Bellingen on 18th January, and we hope to update you on the situation in PNG and Nauru as information emerges in the weeks ahead. In particular, we will need to keep up the pressure on politicians to finally agree to the offer of the New Zealand government to take 150 refugees each year from Nauru and PNG. We also need to engage with our local Federal MP to seek to persuade him that the New Zealand offer presents no threat to our border security.

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