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What future for detainees on Nauru?

In recent months, the terrible war raging in Ukraine has never been far from the daily news headlines. 


The Russian invasion, and the subsequent enormous destruction and loss of life, has been widely, and rightly, condemned by the world at large. Millions of Ukrainians have been either internally displaced or have fled to safety in other countries. 


Our government has commendably played its part, and to date has welcomed several thousand Ukrainians. They have been granted temporary, three-year humanitarian visas, which allow them to work, to study, to access Medicare and other benefits. The assumption is that, once peace returns to their homeland, they will choose to return home. In the meantime, they are safe from danger and are being generously supported by their local communities.


Sadly, it is a very different story for many others who have fled war and persecution in their home countries, and who have sought safety on our shores.


Let’s look at the tiny island of Nauru, situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and home to fewer than 11,000 people. For almost ten years, our government has used the island as a place of detention for many hundreds of asylum seekers. 


Billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money have been spent in keeping them out of sight and out of mind. They have been subjected to terrible mistreatment and abuse, which has been widely documented. Today, just 112 asylum seekers and refugees remain on the island, but their situation is dire, and made much worse in recent weeks by an outbreak of COVID, which has infected almost half the population.


There have been many calls to bring these remaining people to Australia, pending their resettlement in New Zealand, Canada, or the US. Advocates are urging the government to allow them to come here, to offer them the medical and other support that they need and to reassure them that they will remain here in safety until their arrangements for resettlement elsewhere are finalised. It is a request that makes good sense.


 It makes no sense at all for the government to spend $4 million a year for each detainee on Nauru, when they could be accommodated in Australia for a tiny fraction of that sum. Detaining people indefinitely causes enormous mental and physical harm, and has caused enormous damage to our international reputation. But that’s politics!


Michael Griffin


Letter to Minister Giles

 Sent: Friday, July 29, 2022 10:42 AM

To: '' <>
Subject: Refugees on Nauru


Dear Minister Giles,

The election of a Labor government was  very positively received by the many Australians who have been campaigning for years for a more compassionate and humane approach to the treatment and resettlement of refugees. They have endured almost a decade of cruel and inhumane treatment which has resulted in suicide, self-harm and serious mental health issues. It’s surely time to put this shameful chapter in our history behind us.

There are currently approximately 120 refugees and asylum seekers languishing on Nauru, which is in the midst of a serious COVID outbreak.  Food and water are becoming scarce and expensive. The refugees are expected to live on an allowance of $200 a fortnight, whilst Canstruct continues to make millions from their misery. This is a terrible and completely unnecessary situation.

I urge you and your government to take immediate steps to bring this group of people to Australia, whilst arrangements for their resettlement in more generous countries can be finalised.  They can live in the community, with appropriate rights to work, education and Medicare for a tiny fraction of the $4 million per person  of taxpayers’ money that is currently squandered each year on keeping them out of sight and out of mind.

Please bring them here, and reassure them that they can remain in Australia until their resettlement arrangements are finalised.

I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,

Mike G.

Valla Beach, NSW 2448


Proposed National Conference in Katoomba, 16-18 September 2022

Dear RAR groups,


The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group offered to host the 2020 National Conference and as we all know, it was postponed because of the Covid outbreak.  Early this year, we decided that it was safe to try again.  With fewer people.  We are now prepared to revise downwards our expectations of attendance - aiming for 200, in a large school, with plenty of opportunities for small group work and social distancing when we are in the school hall.


We want to go ahead with the conference, if it's safe to do so.  We have a great mix of speakers and panellists, and 15 small group workshops to choose from.  We have an 'open session' at each of the three breakout sessions. But most importantly, this conference will be held 118 days after the Albanese Government assumed office on 22 May.  We want this Government to know that we are watching them and we expect positive change.  Coming together as a national body is a powerful way to make our presence felt.  


We have invited the Minister for Immigration to attend - but no response yet.  (The Minister for Home Affairs is not available).  This coming year is vitally important after 21 years of lobbying and advocacy.  We cannot rest now that we have an ALP government.


So I'm asking you to promote the conference among your members and encourage people to register in the coming weeks, if they plan to attend.  Katoomba has many tourists, and accommodation may be hard to find at the last minute.  We need to know if there is sufficient interest in holding the conference at this time. 


I attach a flyer, and ask that you circulate this through your members and other refugee advocacy groups you may be connected with.  While this is a RAR conference, we welcome people from other like-minded groups attending.


The latest details of the Conference program is on the RAR website, along with accommodation options. 


(thanks to Carolyn Brooks from Queanbeyan RAR for the flyer and Linda McNeill Castlemaine RAR for the logo).

Warm regards

Louise Redmond

National President

Rural Australians for Refugees on Twitter and Facebook 

RAR is a member of the Australian Refugee Action Network
Rural Australians for Refugees