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National RAR news, 15 August 2021: A survey & a zoom meeting with Kristina Kenneally

Hello to all RAR Members and Supporters – Welcome to this RAR Update (some members have asked to be sent a Word version of this newsletter: if you want this, please email me again so I can maintain a list for the future).

RAR National Matters: Take Stock Survey and Workshops, and Annual General Meeting

RAR started 20 years ago, in September 2001.  Twenty years of supporting refugees and people seeking asylum, and advocating for fairness, decency and humane treatment of people seeking safety.

We did not anticipate we’d still be here in 2021!  Yet we are.  We are bringing a particular rural and regional perspective to refugee advocacy.

We want to understand how we can get the best value from our actions. The RAR National Committee has organised activities so that we can take stock and look at how we will work through the next three years.

Over a three-month period, you, our members and others we work with, can say what your ideas and views are about how we can work most effectively in the years ahead. This will include intensive discussions through two workshops, which will be supported by a skilled facilitator, and with key stakeholders.

We will start with an online survey.  We would like as many people as possible to complete this short survey.  Our member groups, members of your groups, our supporters, other refugee support and advocacy groups, refugees and people seeking asylum who we have connected with in some way.  The survey is anonymous.  We would like you to circulate it as widely as you can and encourage your members and supporters to complete it.

Here is the link: It is open until 30 September.

We will also hold two Zoom sessions, for which people can register to take part in more in-depth discussion, with the facilitator, about RAR and its future directions.  The dates for these are: Tuesday 7 September, from 6pm – 7.30pm and Wednesday 8 September from 9am – 10.30am.  There are eight places for each session so if you would like to attend, please email to register.

Meanwhile, the 2021 RAR Annual General Meeting will be on Saturday, 18 September, at 2pm, on Zoom. It will feature the annual report and financial statements.

The formal call for groups to nominate people for the National Committee will come soon (and this will give all the other meeting details as well). You should consider what you might want to raise, who you want to send, and who you might want to nominate.

Associates of RAR are also welcome to attend.


Tampa Anniversary

Also 20 years ago, on August 26, the MV Tampa rescued 433 people from a stranded boat. Its passengers were attempting to reach Christmas Island, where they would intending to lodge claims for asylum. Australian authorities had sent out the call for the boat to be rescued.

At the request of a number of the asylum seekers and with concerns for the safety of those onboard, the Tampa captain, Arne Rinnan – who subsequently, with the crew and the ship’s owner, received the UNHCR’s  Nansen Refugee Award, sailed for Christmas Island. 
The Howard Coalition government refused to allow the Tampa to disembark the asylum seekers on Christmas Island. SAS forces boarded the vessel by Australian SAS forces and seized the asylum seekers. Most were ultimately removed to a hurriedly established offshore detention centre on Nauru.


This was a significant moment in the history of Australian asylum policy, political debate and migration law. The ‘Tampa affair’ and the newly introduced offshore detention of asylum seekers to purportedly deter them from coming to Australia became a leading issue in the 2001 election. In broader perspective, it was a product of an already restrictive and politicised asylum policy and contributed to the rationale for the system of offshore processing and the policy of turning back boats that developed. This has impacted on the asylum-seekers Australia is responsible for, as well as within Australian politics.

This anniversary offers important opportunities for action, including in support of the 108 refugees still held on Nauru and the 125 held in PNG at the Australian government’s behest. You can find resources – sample letters to be sent to local MPs and media, memes for social media, and relevant cartoons and photographs – at (ignore the coming soon message at the top and scroll down to find these).



Freedom Street

Freedom Street is a documentary which uncovers the history on how Australia became the world's leader in punitive policies to deter vulnerable people from seeking policy. The Freedom Street Documentary Info Night and Fundraising event is on Saturday August 21 at 7pm via Zoom.

Learn more about the Indonesia's side in Australia's Turn Back the Boats policy and the colossal impact on the lives of the 14000 refugees who are there. The film also explores Australia's history to find out how we got to this point and pragmatic long term solutions.

The night will be facilitated by the filmmaker Alfred Pek, who will screen an exclusive small preview of the film. Joniad, Azizah and Ashfaq - the refugee stars currently in limbo in Indonesia - will join live.

There will be a Q&A discussion regarding the refugee experience and the impact of Australian policies on asylum seekers. As well as reading performances by Joniad and Azizah.

For your ticket, go to:
Kristina Kenneally

Senator Kristina Kenneally, Labor’s shadow minister for home affairs, has asked to meet with RAR members through a national Zoom forum. She explained she is still trying to meet with as many people as possible during the lockdowns.

We’ve agreed, with the date and time being Monday 27 September, 6.30pm-7.30pm – you can put that in the diary, with the Zoom link to be advised. Kristina will present for up to 20 mins, leaving most of the time for Q&A.

If possible, submit questions in advance to, with further questions to come during the session.

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