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For more than two decades we have witnessed the terrible depths to which the major political parties have been prepared to descend in order to convince voters that each of them is tougher on “border protection” and “national security” than the other. Under Coalition governments, we have had the Tampa affair, the “children overboard” falsehoods and the constant demonisation of asylum seekers as potential terrorists, rapists, child abusers and job-stealers. We have shifted from a focus on compassion and our human rights obligations to one of fomenting fear and spreading misinformation. Securing votes at elections, whatever the human cost, is now all that matters. Honesty and integrity come a very poor second. In all this fog of misinformation and scaremongering, the real voices and stories of refugees have been excluded from the national narrative.




For the past decade, since the establishment of Operation Sovereign Borders, asylum seekers arriving by boat have been deliberately treated with terrible, organised and spirit-crushing cruelty. Twelve men died in the detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island. Many hundreds suffered serious mental health problems. They were constantly reminded that they would never be resettled in Australia and that they should consider returning to the danger that they had fled. Doctors and others who visited the centres described the conditions as akin to torture.



Refugees who were brought to Australia from Nauru and PNG for urgent medical treatment have been locked in detention of various kinds for up to two years until recent weeks. Many of them have not received the medical care that they need, and their incarceration has made their condition worse. We have robbed them of the best years of their lives.


Other refugees who arrived in Australia before the election of the Abbott government find themselves on temporary rather than permanent protection visas. Australia is one of the few countries in the developed world that keeps refugees in limbo in this way. These people live with continuous uncertainty, and are not permitted to be reunited with their families. Inevitably, all these people live in a state of permanent uncertainty. They are denied the opportunity to resettle permanently and rebuild their lives, and to put the trauma of their past lives behind them.




The fact that the federal election is imminent has already brought some welcome, though very belated changes to government policy. Agreement has been reached with the New Zealand government to resettle 450 of OUR refugees over three years. Refugees are suddenly being released from hotel and other places of detention into the community. These actions, though very welcome, need to be seen for what they are: yet another cynical act by a government which is worried about its chances of re-election.


Refugees deserve much more than this.

We need:

·      A government which treats asylum seekers and refugees with fairness and humanity.

·      A government which declares that it will end the offshore mandatory detention of people seeking safety.

·      A government which offers permanent protection to genuine refugees.

·      A government which supports refugees, and helps them to rebuild their lives, and contribute to our society.




Published by Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR.       April 2022


Letter to the Editor re local RAR activities

 Dear Editor,

The recent Bellingen market was a lively and busy morning with so many stallholders enjoying the crowds of shoppers. As usual our RAR stall in support of refugees had great support from locals and tourists. Most people who visited the stall were happy to sign the latest letter we propose to send to the Prime Minister to urge him and his government to show greater compassion to refugees and to desist from using them as a political football in the run up to the election. Many visitors expressed the view that they would like to see government policies change in relation to offshore detention and the inhumane treatment of refugees.

We would like to thank market organisers for the work that they do to manage the market and coordinate the events of the morning. They do a great job and the challenge of it has been considerable so far this year due to Covid and the weather . Their hard work is much 


With thanks,

Marlene G.