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Wednesday 19th July 2017
Fourth Anniversary of the reopening of Off-shore Detention on Manus Is and Nauru
Vigils will be held more than 40 places around Australia
For four years, successive Australian governments have forced people seeking safety to suffer in offshore detention.
It's been four years of abuse, four years of limbo — four years too many.
In October, Manus will be bulldozed, and the company that operates the Nauru camp will leave. It seems the Turnbull Government is preparing to abandon these men, women and children, with nowhere safe to go.
But this can only happen if our politicians think our community will allow it. And we won't.
Vigil in Daylesford - 'It's 4 years since ...' - Daylesford
5.30 - 6.15 pm Burke Square beside the Royal Hotel.
People have been asked to spread the word, bring candles (we'll have spares), make placards, etc. We also have permission from Ballarat GADRC to use/sing Keith Burns' 2014 rewrite of 'Advance Australia Fair' during the vigil.
Vigil in Bendigo - Four Years Too Many #EvacuateNow - BENDIGO
6-7pm Rosalind Park (Cnr of View Street, near the Fountain)
People are asked to register at - https://www.communityrun.org/events/four-years-too-many-evacuatenow-bendigo
Vigil in Castlemaine
5pm Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre, 44 Mostyn St
Vigil in Ballarat
5pm Queen Victoria Square
Vigil in Macedon Ranges
Vigil in Maryborough
There is a new petition to use at the July 19th vigil - see Page 6
Central Victorian Refugee Support Network (CVRSN)
meets in Castlemaine bi-monthly with representatives from 6 local Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) groups –
Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Daylesford, Macedon Ranges and Maryborough.
For further information - email: [email protected]
The CVRSN currently has 2 main functions:
1. Sharing of information, etc. between local RAR groups 2. To initiating local projects … for example …
Forum in Bendigo - 2013 Wannon Project - 2014 National RAR Network - 2014 (ongoing) The Accommodation and Employment Working Group - 2016 (ongoing)
Refugee Week Activities were held across Australia – 17-25 June 2017.
Refugee Week was established in Australia in the mid-1980s to create awareness of local, national and international issues affecting refugees and is held in June to include United Nations World Refugee Day.
The Australian Red Cross acknowledged the week on their website under the heading - Refugee stories: making a difference in Australia http://www.redcross.org.au/refugee-week.aspx
When they come to Australia most refugees and asylum seekers bring with them skills, strengths, and hope for a better future. Here are some stories of refugees making a difference in their community-and some easy ways you can make a difference too.
The theme for Refugee Week for 2017 was “With courage let us all combine”. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.
The Immigration Department also recognised Refugee Week. https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Refu/refugee-week-2017
This year their theme to celebrate Australia’s Humanitarian Programme was success stories of first generation humanitarian entrants. Many humanitarian entrants have reached elite sporting levels, begun successful businesses, achieved academic success and volunteered to assist people in need.
One Refugee Week activity that drew little general attention within the general community, but was significant for participating Local Government representatives, was the Inaugural Refugee Welcome Zone National Forum in Canberra on Thursday 22nd June 2017.
During 2016, RCOA consulted with all 143 Refugee Welcome Zones to identify best practice for rolling out community-based initiatives.
Councils provided valuable feedback on their most successful strategies for successful community engagement, as well as the areas where more support was required.
The Keynote Address was given by Nai Jit Lam, Oceania Representative of the UNHCR,
who was also a willing participant in helping to display the Welcome Scroll – Canberra, 22 June 2017.
Local RAR Group News Bendigo RAR
Monthly Vigils – 5pm on the Friday following the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Rosalind Park.
The Refugee Settlement Forum in May, with its speed-dating format, was judged to be a great success, with many attendees surprised, by the range of refugee services available in Bendigo; the Refugee Services Directory was praised; and the food and entertainment supplied by local refugees was a universal hit. There are already tentative plans being considered for next year’s Forum.
Refugee Week Multicultural Community Dinner was held at the Bendigo Art Gallery and was jointly hosted by Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services and the Art Gallery. Over a hundred people attended, representing the various immigrant groups in Bendigo, and clubs/organisations such as RAR. There was much mixing and conversation, whole families to get to know, lots of children having a good time. The food was delicious, catered for by the Gallery Café. A very worthwhile event. We are all glad we went.
In Bendigo there is a growing potential role for RAR, along with Bendigo Friends & Mentors and Young People for Refugees (YPR), to help with practical settling-in needs such as finding accommodation, providing job leads and household items etc. as well as social contact. The annual Partnership Grant Report was well received by the City of Greater Bendigo Council. This is the final year for the grant.
Young People for Refugees (YPR) has secured the following sponsorships: - Lisa Chesters, as a “Super Supporter” in the amount of $100
- The Lions Club of Bendigo, as “Charity Champions” in the amount of $500
YPR has launched its latest initiative Garage People, a design art studio that brings together people from multicultural backgrounds to create Art Jewellery which is for sale to the general public.
Disappointment for Maryborough RAR (and CVRSN) as Council fails again to declare itself a RWZ.
Maryborough RAR had an afternoon on Refugee Sunday and it was quite enjoyable. Joan Ansell opened it with a run down on what RAR had been doing and what it stood for, followed by several musical items by Paul Flowers, Lai Fong and Dimitra Argyros. Rachel Buckley read a very moving poem regarding refugees from the Menotti opera 'The Consul' which is very relevant to today. Afternoon tea was served and $150 in donations was received. Another cheque for $100 was also received from a couple who were unable to attend.
RARD and the Community Op Shop Refugee Week Sale was held over 3 hours on the Sunday afternoon with proceeds going to asylum seekers and refugees.
Several RARD members joined in with the Ballarat RAR and Grandmothers members for the Walk for Refugees down the Mall, up past Catherine King's office and over to the garden in front of the Town Hall for the raising of the Refugee Week flag.
The stall in Vincent Street was held the following Saturday, at which many people signed the letters to the Prime Minister and the Crossbench Senators about the proposed changes to the Citizenship Test English examination. We also had people giving food and wanting postcards, posters and badges so the donations of food and money flowed. It was decided that the money will be split between ASRC offices in Footscray and Dandenong. The contents of the stall's food basket and RARD's food box in the Council office was taken to the Footscray office plus $120 cash donation which we asked to go towards legal costs for pre-October visa applications. We will send Dandenong’s share of donation money to them.
Weekly Vigils – 6pm on Wednesday Macedon Ranges RAR
Refugee Week Activities: Film Night showing "Constance on the Edge" was very successful and attended by approx. 80 people. $500 was made after expenses for buying the film & promotional materials were deducted. This money was sent to ASRC. Representatives from Swan Hill Refugee support group, Jill Pattenden & Mohamed attended and both spoke to the gathering.
A BBQ & Food collection in Woodend was very well supported with even more food collected than normal. A food collection was also held in Gisborne for the first time at one of the 3 supermarkets in the town - response here was also good. The food was shared between ASRC & Dandenong Friends of Refugees and $500 collected was also donated to Dandenong Compassion Appeal.
A joint Forum with Oxfam, on the subject of Justice, was held in Gisborne with speakers from MR Friends of East Timor, MRRAR, & an Oxfam rep. spoke of actions taken in Papua /New Guinea.
A library of DVD's relating to refugees/asylum seekers is being set up for groups in the region to borrow. Posters & post cards were bought from Daylesford group and distributed at functions.
REFUGEE WELCOME ZONE: A meeting was held in June with reps from MRRAR and Councillors from Macedon Ranges Shire to further discuss the proposal that Shire become a RWZ.
Following this information meeting another meeting was scheduled between MRRAR reps and Council Officers
OPTING TO BE A RURAL SHEV AREA: This matter was to be discussed at the meeting between Council Officers and MRRAR on the 12th July
HOSTING SUB GROUP: Several attempts made to meet with reps from Metro Refugee Support groups to collaborate on arranging another a live-in weekend in Woodend but to date no responses. Will continue to seek contact.
WRITING GROUP: Continues to have letters published, locally & metro papers.
OFFER OF ACCOMMODATION FOR REFUGEE FAMILY: An offer has be made to MRRAR by local family near Woodend of accommodation (with minimum exps) in exchange for 10 hours work in gardening/maintenance. Preference will be given to suitable refugee couple or single person (furnished bungalow is only 1 br) although the offer has been more widely advertised. This information has been shared with Dandenong FOR and the refugee employment program auspiced by Brotherhood of St. Laurence -"Given the Chance".
In-House RAR Session at the ARAN Conference
On Saturday 20th May, RAR representatives gathered in Canberra and formed a new national committee.
President – Marie Sellstrom (Mansfield RAR)
Secretary – Penny Vine (Albury-Wodonga RAR)
Treasurer – Margaret Rasa (Castlemaine RAR)
Vice-President and Newsletter editor – Ruth Fluhr (Euroa RAR)
The new committee are already planning a possible National RAR Conference, investigating national incorporation and insurance. And Zali Nash from Castlemaine RAR has agreed to act as Facebook Coordinator.
The Welcome Scroll - https://www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au/the-welcome-scroll/
Welcome Scroll Newsletter – https://www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Welcome-Scroll-News-2-1.pdf
Photo below – In Braidwood (NSW) with Sister Jane Keogh, founder of Manus Lives Matter
In Euroa with Ruth Fluhr (left) and Jessica Hackett (second from right) with 2 Euroa RAR members whose names I dismally failed to record. Jessica Hackett was the young teacher who walked from Melbourne to Canberra with her Welcome Petition, collecting 18,000 signatures
on her journey.
Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) https://australianrefugeeactionnetwork.wordpress.com/
Keeping up-to-date with refugee and asylum seeker facts and statistics - RCOA, DIBP, ASRC & RAR
TO THE HONOURABLE THE SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
This petition of the Rural Australians for Refugee Network, draws to the attention of the House:
People seeking asylum have the right to live with dignity and in safety in our community while their
claims for protection are processed.
Our society should be compassionate and just for all people, including refugees and people seeking
We therefore ask the House to:
Cease mandatory detention.
Immediately close the camps on Nauru and Manus Island in a humane and responsible manner.
Process all claims for asylum in Australia in a fair and timely manner.
Refuse to deport people to dangerous or life threatening situations.
Replace temporary protection visas with permanent protection visas.
NAME (print) SIGNATURE (sign) POSTCODE
Signed ORIGINALS must be returned NO LATER than: 21st September, 2017
Please return ORIGINAL copies of petition to: Mike Griffin, Bellingen and Nambucca RAR 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach NSW 2448
Published by Rural Australians for Refugees - Email: [email protected]