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Letter to the PM: Patricia 'has had enough'.

 The Prime Minister

The refugees are now imprisoned indefinitely in the Park Hotel, Melbourne

The Hon Scott Morrison MP

PO Box 1306

Cronulla NSW 2230


Dear Prime Minister,


Knowing you are busy, I will keep this letter brief. I am a retired pharmacist who has had enough.


It is about the plight of refugees, in the Park Hotel Melbourne, and other locations both on and off the shores of Australia. They were forced to flee their countries because their lives were in danger in their own countries. Something you and I have not had to face in our lifetime in Australia.


The majority of these refugees have had their applications for asylum processed and have been formally recognised as refugees. This means, as you know, that they are owed protection under our international obligations. Instead, you insist they are locked up indefinitely, because you believe it is politically expedient for you to do this.


Mr Morrison, where are your Christian values, and sense of what is right? Detaining these individuals any longer is NOT RIGHT, and I believe Australia will pay a high price for the refugee’s suffering and lack of hope.


I hope you will reconsider the plight of these genuine refugees.

Yours sincerely,

Patricia Abell, Retired Pharmacist,

Bellingen NSW 2454


Its Costing a Fortune : Letter to the SMH

In recent weeks the government awarded a $218 million contract to the Brisbane company  Canstruct  for the next 6 months of offshore detention operations on the island of Nauru.

This is the eighth contract made with Canstruct and there has been no open and competitive process involved for any of these contract awards.

There are 107 people detained on the island and 80 of them have had their claim for protection formally recognized, which means that Australia is obliged under international  law to protect them. It is costing  $11,000  per person per day to provide these  offshore services.  That’s an eye-watering amount of money that could be spent on other, more socially useful services to our community.

It is surely time to bring these refugees to Australia where there are job shortages in many areas due to the Covid restrictions on International Travel and the drop in working visa applications.

This would give these people  hope for their futures and would be of benefit to us all. Let’s put an end to this cruel and inhumane treatment  which is costing us all an absolute fortune and causing so much trauma to those impacted.

Marlene Griffin



Newsletter from RAR Australia

11 February 2022

Hello to all RAR Members and Supporters – Welcome to this RAR Update

Afghanistan – Women for Change

A world where all women can play an empowered and valued part in society – this is the vision of Women for Change Vision, a registered not-for-profit association.

Women for Change was founded in 2019 by its current President, Lida Hazara Nayeeb.  It now has 62 members: 59 Hazara women and three Hazara men from Melbourne’s southeast. Their commitment is to support their fellow girls, women and families in Australia and Afghanistan. They provide education, employment, and social support to vulnerable and isolated girls and women locally in Victoria, and in the Bamyan region of Afghanistan.

Women for Change’s work in Afghanistan began with providing orphaned children with education, clothes, stationery and food. Due to their immense poverty and lack of identification documents, the children cannot attend government schools. They attend classes in a cave in the harsh mountainous area of Bayman province.

The members of Women for Change living in Australia donate $10.00 or more per month to support the children. This provides life’s basics for the children and employs a trained teacher to run their classes.

Building on this success, Women for Change has widened the scope of its work through the following projects:

·         Felt Making Enterprise: 11 widowed women with disabilities, or with children with disabilities, were provided with $60 to develop their felt businesses. Felt bedding is recognised in Afghanistan as having therapeutic properties

·         Wool Spinning Enterprise: the women produce wool yarn during the winter months, when it is too cold to make felt. They purchase materials from nearby farmers, further supporting the local economy.

·         Carpet Making Training: 17 young girls, most of whom were child labourers, are gaining skills and knowledge in carpet making. A trainer was employed and $40 allowed the girls to participate in the training instead of labouring.


·         Responsive Multi-Education Classes: 300 girls take part in classes in a range of areas and delivery formats which meet girls’ educational needs. This includes basic literacy, university preparation and public speaking classes.

 ·         Sustainable Agriculture Training and Support for Impoverished Farmers: local farmers train in more effective agricultural practices.

·         Food Relief: impoverished families experiencing illness and disabilities receive food.

·         Emergency Financial Support: people with serious illness, including children who have been the victims of bomb blasts, received funds.

Women For Change want to partner with Rural Australians for Refugees to enable young people up to the age of 15 years who live on the streets in Afghanistan to work to pay for their food. Otherwise they will become reliant on charity.

If you would like to donate to this program you can donate a lump sum or contribute $10.00, $20.00 or more per month to:

Women For Change

BSB: 063619

Account Number: 111 569 23

Quote your name and the RAR Group you are from or, if the donation from your group, the name of the RAR Group.

For more information on Women for Change, email, or see or


Afghanistan – support for artists

Ruth from Ballina Region for Refugees writes that the group are working with film maker Benjamin Gilmour and Refugee Legal on a project to complete Humanitarian Visa applications for 50 prominent Afghan musicians, painters and sculptors, and filmmakers. More than 30 volunteers are involved.

The Afghans are at risk of harm from the new government and who are unable to work now given the extremist ideology of the regime. For example, one of Afghanistan's most famous tabla players has buried his drums and is forbidden to play at weddings, while a famous sculptor is in hiding after being targeted for perceived idolatry.

We have been informed that the Australian government is not even looking at these forms until the new year. Meanwhile the artists on our list are suffering immensely.

Following a UK example, BR4R is looking at raising money for one-off stipends. Our enquiries suggest $200 US each for the 50 on our list would do enormous good. These funds would be administered and distributed by B4R4 via WesternUnion and Afghan banks, and we have triaged our list in urgency of need.

Any assistance that the wider regional refugee support community can provide would be so helpful. Please contact Ruth on 0409151378 for more information.

At BR4R we have allocated $2000 raised when we recently showed Benjamin Gilmour’s film Jirga ( We had such a positive response from this event. Ben is willing to give his film for no-cost screening fundraising events if this helps raise the money. Where possible Ben will do a Q&A either in person or via Zoom post screenings. For any questions about the film or to arrange a showing of the film, please contact Ben (0404 789 442).


National Palm Sunday planning meeting

Palm Sunday – 10 April 2022 this year – actions by local groups across the country have been quite effective in past year, although COVID-19 has thrown this off balance through 2020-2021. Local groups are encouraged to hold events of whatever size they can manage as a significant opportunity to re-focus our groups.

All capital cities will be holding rallies, but the media love the spread of the Palm Sunday actions through regional towns and centres to gives the story a truly national reach. Groups can send event details and then follow-up pictures and reports to a central point.

A coherent theme adds to the story as well. The Melbourne rally is using "Walk for Justice and Freedom for Refugees" with the by-line including "End Detention, Permanent Visas, Safe and Secure Futures."

Also, the timing of Palm Sunday action is as good as can be for them to act as part of our election campaign before the now almost certain May date.

Your group can join a national planning meeting via Zoom at 4pm Monday, 14 Feb. 2022,


Insurance for unincorporated RAR members

RAR has arranged 2022-23 insurance coverage for RAR National Inc. and RAR member groups which are not incorporated. Previous insurance coverage for groups expired on 1 February 2022.

RAR National has renewed the current insurance with Ansvar Insurance.  The coverage will be for the period 2 February 2022 to 1 February 2023.

The limits of indemnity are Public Liability $20,000,000 ($1,000 excess) Products Liability $20,000,000 ($1,000 excess) and Property in Care / Custody / Control limited to $250,000.

The RAR Committee has decided that the premium sought from Groups will remain at $60 for the insurance period should groups elect to take up this coverage.

RAR requests that groups deciding to join the scheme for 2022-2023 (Feb-Jan) advise the RAR Secretary ( and to make their payment direct to the RAR bank account:

RAR Bank Details

Account Name – Rural Australians For Refugees Inc

BSB – 633 000

Account Number – 160958096

Reference – Ins [Group Name]

The Certificate of Insurance will then be forwarded to you.

A reminder that groups taking up the insurance are requested to advise the RAR Secretary of their intention to trigger the policy (I.e. hold an event).  This is to make sure that the event falls within the policy conditions.  Some groups do this for each event and others advise planned regular events (e.g. market stalls, etc).


RAR new website

We need your up-to-date contact details for the new website.  Please respond to the Survey Monkey survey re your group.  So far only 22 groups have responded.  We will have to ring around those groups who have not responded, to find out if you're still there!  It takes 5 mins. Please reply by Sunday 13 FEB.  We're all volunteers here, help us out.


Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Trust

The Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Trust is a modest charity, administered by David Kelly, that has funds to disburse as charitable donations to asylum seekers or refugees in Australia.

David has written to say “what we struggle to do is find and link up with suitable beneficiaries in the community. I would greatly appreciate any connection that RAR might be able to give me help to identify eligible individuals and their needs and facilitate the use of my charity’s funds for the fulfilment of those needs.”

The Trust’s grants are relatively small and are used for needs (medical, accommodation, transport, clothing, education, and social inclusion and cultural awareness that sometimes struggle to be filled quickly (or at all) by governmental support or mainstream charities.  For example, it has supported both gym and other memberships for young men and helped an all-female soccer football team compete here in Australia.  We have also paid utility bills and assisted with textbooks and online course fees.  We’ve even purchased musical instruments and spectacles … a range of relatively small but profound items.

“That’s the point of difference of this charity: because the individual sums of money involved are relatively small, they can be deployed very rapidly,” David explained. You can contact David at or phone 409 018 436.


Set Them Free

In this film, directed by Richard Keddie, edited by Sebastian Broadbent and spoken by Tim Costello, religious leaders of Australia call for the release of refugees illegally detained in Melbourne's Park Hotel and Maygar Barracks. Those leaders include Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins, Imam Alaa Elzokm, Rabbi Shamir Caplan and Harold Zwier, and more than 30 other Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh leaders. See:


Library take-up of Seeking Asylum: Our Stories

Mike from Bellingen-Nambucca RAR writes that the group took copies of the ASRC book Seeking Asylum: Our Stories, to the local libraries in Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Urunga and Bellingen.  All the librarians were delighted to receive their copies.


Jonathan Strauss

National Secretary Rural Australians for Refugees Australia

Phone: 0437 790 306


Rural Australians for Refugees on Twitter and Facebook.

RAR is a member of the Australian Refugee Action Network


Dear Minister Andrews, I watched your interview with David Speers on Insiders with utter disbelief.

Dear Minister Andrews,

I watched your interview with David Speers on Insiders with utter disbelief. Your attempt to explain the inexplicable and indefensible was totally unconvincing. Your colleague, Minister Dutton, commented a year ago that releasing detainees from hotel detention made sense, given that it was much cheaper to allow these men to live in community detention as they posed no threat to the Australian community. There is no logical reason to keep these men in detention. You know that. Sadly, the government’s political agenda, which drives this cruelty and total lack of compassion, seems to be all that matters.

The Australian people have now seen, many for the first time, thanks to Novak Djokovic, the cruel and punitive reality of the government’s asylum policy, and they are not comfortable with what they see. Many, like myself, are outraged.

We have a federal election coming up. Many of us will be working hard to throw out a government which is prepared to inflict such terrible cruelty on refugees and asylum seekers, who fled their homelands to seek safety in Australia.

The government’s actions over the past years bring shame on us all.

Mike Griffin