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Letter to Acting Minister Tudge re Udawatta family

The Udawatta family made a life in New South Wales.(Supplied: Florence Udawatta)
Subject: The Udawatta family of Kempsey

Dear Acting Minister Tudge,

I understand that you have been contacted by my Federal MP, Pat Conaghan, in relation to the Udawatta family, who live in Kempsey.  You will be aware that Mr Raj Udawatta, who came to Australia in 2014 on a 475 Visa, died from bowel cancer in September, leaving behind a wife and four children. By all accounts, the family is highly regarded in the community, three of the four children attend local schools and the eldest daughter now has a student visa.

Florence Udawatta's application for a protection visa for herself and her children has been rejected, which is understandable, given the circumstances of their arrival in Australia. It seems to me that her appeal, which might drag on for up to two years, will also fail.

The family clearly need an urgent remedy to their plight, so that they can start to rebuild their lives following the death of a much-loved husband and father. I would urge you therefore to intervene in this situation and to use the powers that you have under the Immigration Act which allow you to deal with compassionate and compelling cases such as this.

Please intervene now, and give this family a Christmas present to remember. The local Kempsey community is looking to you to show some compassion .

I would be grateful for an early response to my request.

Yours sincerely.

Mike G

Valla Beach, NSW 2448

See ABC Story 

Letter: To: ''---Subject: The Udawatta family

The Udawatta family made a life in New South Wales.(Supplied: Florence Udawatta)

 To: '

Subject: The Udawatta family

Dear Mr Conaghan,

I recently watched the 7.30 Report news item about the plight of the Udawatta family, and listened the following morning to your interview with Hamish McDonald. I felt greatly encouraged by your expression of support and compassion for Florence Udawatta and her children.

As you stated in the interview, it should not be  necessary for the family to wait eighteen months or more for a decision by the Acting Minister for Immigration regarding the appeal against the decision to not grant them a Protection Visa. In any event, as you will know as a former immigration lawyer, their chances of being granted a Protection Visa, given the circumstances of their arrival in Australia, are virtually zero. The Acting Minister, as you stated, has the power under the Immigration Act to grant the family a permanent visa on compassionate grounds. I was very pleased to note that you have stated that there is no case for sending them back to Sri Lanka, and that the Minister should allow them to stay. They are a much-loved and highly respected family in the local Kempsey community.

I trust that you have made formal representations to the Acting Minister and that you have sought an early decision in this very sad case.

I would be grateful if you could update me at some point on the progress with your representations to Alan Tudge. It would be wonderful if the family could have some certainty very soon about their future, given all that they have had to endure during Raj Adawatta’s illness and subsequent death in September.

Yours sincerely,

Mike G

Valla Beach NSW 2448

See ABC Story


Jill's Fundraisers for refugees to CANADA



 In the past 3 months, I have fundraised alone $64000.  I am searching for a group of 5 Canadian sponsors for a refugee who was put in offshore island nation detention centres for 7 years by the Australian government that I alone have fundraised $20000 each to apply to Canada for asylum for 3 and now completing my 4th fundraiser.  


I am Jill Horton, a Canadian Australian Social Worker in Port Macquarie NSW who has been supporting refugee friends on Manus, Nauru and in detention for the past 5 years

After a trip I made to Manus in 2017, I started working with Stephen Watt, an amazing man in Toronto who has sponsored over 100 refugees, and we worked together for him to sponsor refugees from Manus to Canada.  


The first offshore man Stephen Watt sponsored, Amir Sahragard who was on Manus arrived in Toronto a year ago which was amazing for our project. He was medevaced to  Brisbane last year and flew directly with agreement from the Australian government to go to Canada. Amir just spent his first Canadian Thanksgiving and his first anniversary in Toronto Canada.


After 7 years of these men suffering, I have taken on a project to fundraise for a few refugees with official Refugee Status Determination (that Canada accepts) from different cultures, SINGLE, NO children who are in Australian detention to apply for a Group of 5 to Canada.   


fundraise over $20000 in Australia for each man and have the refugees application prepared, organise English teachers for each refugee, provide ongoing emotional support and then it is edited by Stephen Watt.


I am responsible for finding Groups of 5 in Canada

THIS is why I am emailing you today.


Stephen Watt in Toronto who has sponsored many refugees has graciously agreed to support the new sponsors to go through the sponsorship journey, submit the application and the paperwork and guide them in resettlement on arrival possibly in 2 years.


There are 300+ refugees waiting in a register to apply for Canada so I feel compelled to help a few one at a time as 7 years is far too long to wait in a huge queue that doesn't guarantee all their applications will be submitted to Canada.


As a sponsoring group of 5, you together would:

Provide basic financial support and settlement assistance including:
Housing (shared accommodation is fine); health care; drivers licence, education; emotional support and dealing with refugee trauma.
Complete a detailed settlement plan outlining settlement arrangements put in place as well as their ability and commitment to support the sponsored refugee for the sponsorship period, which is usually 12 months.


 Shan is my first fundraiser I completed and secured a group of 11 Quaker sponsors for him in Coldstream/London Ontario. Shan's sponsors are now completing the paperwork with Stephen's help and support as he has done hundreds of applications. This offer from Stephen to finalise each asylum application and submit it is for all sponsors who are sponsoring my fundraised refugees.

For poet and artist Jalal who was on Nauru, I raised over $20000 in less than one week so his fundraiser is finished and now I have just secured his 5 Canadian sponsors in Calgary Alberta. AMAZING!


I have linked Jalal recently to a publisher who worked with Behrouz Boochani so I hope that she will start to publish his poems and art. Jalal has an English teacher to get him ready to go to university when he arrives in Calgary, Alberta Canada.


Marley is 27 and from Sudan and Single and NO children and speaks Arabic and English. Marley has no complex health needs. He simply wants to live a normal, peaceful life and follow his dream as a Social Worker. His pseudonym name Marley comes from his love for music including the epic Bob Marley ‘King of Reggae’, Hip Hop and Arabic. He studied a Bachelor of Media but would love to study Social Work at University. Marley believes he can help other refugees and people experiencing mental health issues with his lived experience. And of course, he wants to play football again and possibly see his team FC Barcelona. A big dream is to reunite with 2 of his siblings in France. Marley has so much to offer the world; he just needs the chance to live as a free man. If you want to have contact with Marley please ask me. Marley has started his private English classes getting him ready to start studying Social Work in university in Canada.



Habibi is Single, no children and from Iraq and worked 6 years in the Military with the US army out of that duty to support his family. He was working to allow the US to withdraw from occupation in Iraq and give his country peace and harmony but became a target by militias. He is optimistic, generous, courageous, enthusiastic and has a romantic heart. Habibi is friends with everyone. He’s ready to work hard and believes he can do anything that he tries by putting in the hard yards. He wants to live a normal, peaceful life where he can work and marry. As an Arabic speaker, he has spent his time in detention teaching himself and perfecting his English and staying well, fit and active.  He loves running, pushups, playing football and swimming. His Father, a teacher of sport, taught him to swim in Iraq. He loves Real Madrid and excels playing football. He loves Arabic, romantic Habibi and English music. Habibi really misses his family and waits for the day to see them again. He’s looking forward to sharing with his family beautiful Arabic food and fighting about if FC Barcelona or Real Madrid is better. After 7 over years of suffering and waiting for freedom and now in detention in Australia, Habibi deserves to heal and flourish in Canada. He’s ready to work hard for Canada. Habibi has already started his private English classes getting ready to hit the ground running in Canada looking for a job on arrival.


Please if you can ask Canadians to be part of a Group of 5 and they can speak to Stephen in Toronto about the program and what is expected of them. Generally the most difficult part is raising $16500 CAD for each person for their first year of expenses in Canada but I am fully responsible and committed to fundraising over $20000 for their first year in Canada.


See Stephen's Northern Lights sponsorship guide to Canada for more details and my attached document. Each group of 5's main job is resettlement on their arrival for their first year. Amir was processed in 15 months but each case goes at a different speed. During the processing wait, the 5 sponsors can offer emotional support and teach the refugee more about Canada and share the way of life there.

Sponsors Responsibilities



The sponsoring group has a set of responsibilities related to meeting the basic settlement needs of sponsored refugees upon their arrival in Canada. These duties are:


Provide suitable accommodation, basic furniture, and other household essentials.


Provide food, clothing, local transportation costs and other basic necessities of life.

Settlement Assistance and Support

          Assist in the completion of required forms including health insurance, social insurance, child tax benefits registrations, etc.;

          opening a bank account;

          facilitating access to English or French language classes;

          understand the rights and responsibilities of permanent residents;

          facilitating access to employment;

          facilitating access to community support groups, settlement services, and other resources in the community;

          locating and assisting in accessing a family physician and dentist; and supporting empowerment and independence.



I look forward to hearing if your relatives or friends  would be able to sponsor one of these men as they both deserve freedom after 7 years. 

Thank you for your support and care  


Thank you for your support and care  

Peace and Warm Regards

Jill Horton BSW

Private Practitioner Social Worker



Vale Irene Wallin



Irene Wallin, a long time campaigner for asylum seekers passed away on 11/11/2020.  She was instrumental in the establishment of the SIVX National Memorial and the formation of the Bellingen Nambucca Rural Australians for Refugees Group. Her contribution will always be remembered. Vale Irene.

"Dear, dear Irene. In your quiet way you exemplified what can be achieved when a passionate, caring person devotes themselves to fighting for what they believe in. Whether it was the beneficial fun of participating in aquarobics under Irene's expert instruction, sharing visits to the garden events through Seedsavers, or the many social justice and environmental campaigns where we stood literally shoulder to shoulder, you have been one of the special people in my life over the last twelve years. Yes today is a sad day, but so many people can reflect with gratitude and pride to have counted you as a friend. I feel your loss keenly, Irene. Rest well." Carol Vernon



Letter to Minister Dutton re treatment of refugees with Community Detention status

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 

Dear Minister Dutton,

I was deeply dismayed, but not very surprised, to learn that your Department has recently rescinded the Community Detention status of several hundred refugees and asylum seekers, and placed them on six-month Departure Visas. In the midst of a pandemic, you are throwing these people onto the streets, ending their support, and telling them to find a job.

Do you realistically expect these vulnerable people to suddenly fend for themselves, after years of mistreatment at the hands of the Australian government? Do you seriously expect that a sick refugee, with limited English skills, and on a short-term visa, is likely to be offered a job in the present climate?

You, of course, know the answer to these questions, but you seem untroubled.

You know that, having fled their home countries in search of a safe haven, which is their right under international law, they cannot “go back to where they came from.” You also know that their prospects of settling in Nauru or PNG are next to zero. But you are indifferent to their plight.

These actions by your government cast a dark shadow over all of us.  This is not the way that a compassionate or fair-minded country treats the most vulnerable in the community. We have obligations to these people, and it is your responsibility, on behalf of all of us, to ensure that these obligations are met.

It is not too late to show some humanity and to create a new community protection visa with full work and study rights, and access to Medicare, JobSeeker and continuing housing and income support, until such time as these people are able to securely support themselves.

It is surely time to expedite the long-standing offer of the New Zealand government to resettle 150 refugees annually.

Yours sincerely,

Mike G....