Index

Click on subject of interest shown on the right under the heading "labels" to see all relevant posts


To look at letters (and some replies) sent to politicians and newspapers, scroll down the index on the right hand side and select the appropriate heading.

Note the blog allows multiple labelling and all letters to politicians are under "letters to pollies".




14.3.17

Newsletter for 14 March 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Belllingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside Demo Report
Next Market Stall - Bellingen Sat 18th March
Update on visa application deadlines
Sri Lankan curry lunch - Sunday 26th March
March in March - Sat 25th March

Roadside demonstration report

We held another successful roadside demonstration in Nambucca Heads last week. A good turnout by our supporters, including three  people that we haven’t seen for a while and one new member – together with Mags the dog! A great opportunity to chat as well as to engage with the passing traffic. The weather was reasonably kind, and we received overwhelming support from passing motorists and truckies. Our next demonstration will be in Coffs Harbour by the Pacific Highway opposite the Base hospital. on Thursday 23rd March from 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm. Do come and join us if you can.

Next market stall: Saturday 18th March at Bellingen market

Our next market stall will be at Bellingen market this Saturday from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. We’ll be collecting signatures on the RAR petition, selling our asylum seeker merchandise and talking to market goers about the plight of asylum seekers, particularly those held in indefinite detention on Manus Island and Nauru. If you can lend a hand on the stall for an hour or two, then please email Mike at: mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com   to let him know.

Update on visa application deadlines

As we reported earlier, many thousands of asylum seekers living in Australia on bridging visas have found themselves facing impossible deadlines to submit their refugee claims. The 60-page application forms typically take, even with the assistance of a lawyer, eight to ten hours to complete, and they have to be “right first time”.  Volunteers at Sydney’s Refugee Advice and Casework Service have been working 18-hour shifts, while Australia’s legal fraternity has volunteered hundreds of hours of pro bono assistance. A leading refugee advocate, Kon Karapanagiotidis, writes: “This has just been catastrophic for the asylum seekers caught up in this. Where once we had to call our critical assessment and treatment team once or twice a week to respond to someone threatening or committing self-harm or suicide, it’s five times a day now. This is breaking people.”
In last week’s newsletter, we asked supporters to think about how we might raise funds to help with this crisis. We are really grateful to those of you who have responded with helpful suggestions, as a result of which we can now reveal what we intend to do. Here is the plan!

Sri Lankan curry lunch and auction: Sunday 26th March at 1.00 pm: 12, River Street, Mylestom

Thanks to the enormous generosity of Margie and Georgie, two of our long-standing supporters, you are invited to a Sri Lankan curry lunch at their house in Mylestom. The cost will be $30  per person, and all the money raised will be donated to the Refugee Advice and Casework Service. Wine will be provided, but BYO beer/soft drinks. You might like to dress up in Asian style for the occasion! It will be a lot of fun, and our target is to raise $1000 to support legal advice for asylum seekers.  Please email Margie and Georgie at: gsmh@fastmail.fm  or phone: 0414 592 519 to book seats for you and your friends. Seating is limited, so get in early.
If you are able to help out with the sweet course, then please give Margie a call.
We also plan to hold an auction at the end of the meal, and we are seeking lots to put under the hammer. If you have something that you can offer for the auction that is not too bulky and that will sell for at least $20, then please let Mike know by email at: mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com  or phone him on: 6569 5419, to give him the details. If you are not able to come to the lunch, but would like to offer something for sale, then please get in touch with Mike to arrange collection. So far we have two lots: a pair of original paintings and a mixed case of red wine. If we can get 20 lots to sell in twenty minutes, we could make a tidy sum!
Please support this fundraiser in any way you can.

March in March: Saturday 25th March in Nambucca Heads, from 11.00 am

Our RAR group has supported the March in March in Coffs Harbour on several occasions. The organisation is not politically aligned and offers a range of groups the opportunity to make their voices heard on a wide range of issues from climate change, coal seam gas, conservation, education , the ABC and many issues in between. This year the event will be held in Nambucca Heads, and we plan to march with our banners and to address the crowd when it reaches Bellwood Park.  If you can join us at the event, please come to the Plaza shopping centre car park in Nambucca Heads for an 11.00 am start. We have lots of banners and placards to share.  It would be good to have a strong RAR presence.





Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

7.3.17

Newsletter for 7 January 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside Demo Nambucca Thurs 9th
Next Market Stall - Bellingen Sat 18th March
Refugee Advice and Casework Services Appeal


Our next Roadside Demonstration: Thursday 9th March, Nambucca Heads: 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm

A final reminder that our next roadside demonstration is this Thursday in Nambucca Heads. We we will located in our usual spot, on the Pacific Highway adjacent to the Plaza shopping centre. Please come and join us if you can, even if only for part of the time. We have lots of banners and placards to share, but we do need a sizeable group of supporters to help to get our message across  to passing motorists.  It would be great to see a few new people. Why not give it a go?
 
Our next market stall: Bellingen market, Saturday 18th March from 9.00 am to 1.30 pm

A reminder that our next market stall will be at the Bellingen market on Saturday 18th March. We are seeking support from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm.  Many of you will be familiar with the Bellingen market and you will know that it is a busy and lively event. It presents a great opportunity for us to talk to market-goers, give out leaflets, collect signatures on our petition, sell our refugee merchandise and collect donations for the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown, to whom we have donated $750 since August last year. If you can join us for an hour or two, then please let Mike know by emailing him at : mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com.
 
Refugee Advice and Casework Services appeal

Last week in the newsletter we wrote about the latest crisis facing asylum seekers living in Australia, as they seek to meet the sudden imposition of impossible deadlines for their applications for refugee status. It is  incredibly difficult for asylum seekers to complete  the 60-page application, which is in English only. They cannot do so without legal assistance, and yet, as we reported, federal funding for legal assistance has been reduced by 90% in recent times. As David Manne, the executive director of Refugee Legal explains:  “These people are not refusing to apply. To understand this process means people need legal assistance, and what’s been removed is public legal assistance.These 60-day letters have created great fear and panic in the refugee community. There’s a serious miscarriage of justice here – it could mean the deportation of people to torture or death.”
In an effort to increase the level of legal support available, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service has launched an online appeal to raise funds, the details of which we posted our our RAR Facebook page on 28th February.  (Our Facebook link is at the bottom of this newsletter). We know that several of our supporters have already made generous donations, which is great. Some people have suggested that we could organise a fundraising event. Ideas include a charity lunch at the Bellingen Butter Factory; a concert; or a charity auction. What do you think? Have you any suggestions that you would like to put forward? And, importantly, would you be able to help with organising an event? Please let us have your responses by email to: bellingen.rar@gmail.com. It would be helpful to have your responses in the next week or so, since we will need to move fairly quickly if we decide to undertake a fundraiser.
If you have difficulty in finding the link on our Facebook page, then simply Google  “Refugee Advice and Casework Services” and follow the prompts.



Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

28.2.17

Newsletter for 28 February 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside Demo Report
Harbourside Market Report
Refugee Council of Australia Report
Another Cruel Blow for Asylum Seekers
Is Australia Racist




Roadside demonstration report : Bellingen,  23rd February

Another successful roadside demonstration last week in Bellingen, with  about ten supporters turning up. There was lots of positive feedback from both motorists and pedestrians. There can be no doubt, from our three years’ experience of these events, that these demonstrations are both morale-boosting and effective. They promote the cause of asylum seekers, and they encourage people to reflect on the serious mistreatment of refugees languishing in offshore detention centres. With your support, we will keep them going until government policy changes and until the last refugee on Nauru and Manus Island finds safe refuge in another country.
Our next roadside demonstration will be in Nambucca Heads by the Pacific Highway adjacent to the Plaza shopping centre on Thursday 9th March from 3.00 pm until 4.30 pmTwo weeks later, on Thursday 23rd March, we will be demonstrating in Coffs Harbour, by the Pacific Highway opposite the Base Hospital, at the usual time.
Why not make a resolution to join us?
Market report from the Harbourside market on 26th February

What can we say, other than that it was somewhat wet? We did collect some signatures for our petition and had a number of very positive conversations with market goers before the heavens opened. We stuck it out until about 11.00 am, by which time everyone was beating a hasty retreat. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often, so we won’t be deterred!
Our next market stall will be at the Bellingen Market on Saturday 18th  March. If you can help out for an hour or so between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, then please let Mike know by emailing him at: mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com.
Thereafter, we have  market stalls planned for Valla Beach market on Saturday 1st April and Coffs Harbourside market on Sunday 23rd April.
Refugee Council of Australia Report: State of the Nation

Last week  the Refugee Council of Australia published an important report “State of the Nation 2017”, which sets out in great detail the situation facing refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.  The final section, “What should be done? The challenges ahead,” is particularly informative, and well worth reading. It states: “Australia’s policies towards people seeking asylum, especially those who come by boat, are among the world’s worst. Australia, alone in the world, sends people seeking asylum by boat to tiny islands with threats that they will never be able to seek safety in Australia. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that locks up people indefinitely. Australia forces people into destitution. Australia leaves people in limbo.....” You can read the full report by Googling : Refugee Council of Australia: State of the Nation 2017.

Yet another cruel blow for Australian asylum seekers

In yet another cruel twist aimed at making life more difficult for asylum seekers living in Australia waiting to have their refugee status finalised, the government is now making that process even more difficult and precarious for them. Under the so-called fast-track process –which is nothing of the kind- asylum seekers have recently been told that their applications have to be completed within 60 days or less.  The application process is long and complex, involving the completion of a 60-page document in English. It is impossible for asylum seekers to complete the document without legal assistance, and yet the government has cruelly and deliberately cut the funding for legal assistance by an incredible 90%. Many asylum seekers have been on a waiting list for assistance for up to a year. What are they supposed to do? They are now being threatened with the loss of any support payments, having their bridging visas cancelled, losing access to Medicare or even having their right to claim asylum withdrawn.


Once you have read the article, please consider writing to your MP (which for most of us is Luke Hartsuyker), to Minister Dutton and to the Prime Minister.
Email addresses:

Is Australia Racist?

On Sunday night SBS showed a documentary, hosted by Ray Martin, called "Is Australia Racist?". It was very interesting, especially in the way it noted how racism has changed over the last few decades. In particular was a short piece with an advertising executive about "framing". A group of people were shown two different versions of reporting of a boat load of asylum seekers arriving in Darwin. Depending on how the clip was framed the peoples responses were poles apart. There were several other experiments to gauge peoples reactions that are worth watching.



Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 
The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

21.2.17

Newsletter for 21 February 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next roadside demo - Bellingen Thurs 23rd Feb
Next Market Stall - Coffs Harbour Sun 27th Feb
Waiting for Citizenship

Roadside demonstration: Thursday 23rd February at 3.00 pm in Bellingen

Our next roadside demonstration is this Thursday, 23rd February, from 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm in Bellingen. We will be in our usual spot adjacent to the library on Waterfall Way.  Please come and join us if you can, even for part of the time. We have lots of banners and placards to share, and we urgently need more pairs of hands to hold them!  It’s now more important than ever that the voices of compassion and humanity are heard. Tragically, racism and bigotry are  rapidly becoming normalised in the rush to the bottom for electoral advantage. We need to constantly remind people that there are a better, more principled ways to deal with the complex issues of managing the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

Our next market stall: Sunday 27th February in Coffs Harbour 

Our next market stall will be at the Coffs Harbourside market, which will be held on Sunday 27th February. The market is located by the jetty and we are looking for helpers from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. If you can spare an hour or two, then please consider coming to join us at the stall. You don’t need any previous experience –just a sense of compassion and empathy for the needs of asylum seekers and a commitment to the rule of law. We will be giving out leaflets, asking people to sign the national RAR petition, seeking donations for the Asylum Seekers Centre and, of course, selling our merchandise. All profits from sales are donated to the ASC, to whom we sent a cheque for $100 following the recent Valla Beach market. We have now donated $750 to the ASC since last August, so we are well on track to meet our target of $1000 in year one.
If you are able to lend a hand, please let Mike know by emailing him at: mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com.

Waiting for citizenship

For those of you who have been through the process, you will be aware that, as an immigrant with a permanent residency visa, you can apply for Australian citizenship  after four years. At that point, you will receive a letter informing you that your application has been successful and that all that remains is for you to attend a citizenship ceremony to make the Pledge of Allegiance.....unless, of course, you happen to be an asylum seeker who arrived in Australia irregularly, which usually means by boat. There are now 10,231 such people living in Australia who have qualified for citizenship but who have been denied it because they came to Australia as “undocumented arrivals.” Often they have learned at the very last minute, without proper explanation, that their citizenship ceremonies have been cancelled. This is a purely punitive measure, initiated by our government to perpetuate the life of uncertainty for refugees, who so desperately need some certainty about their lives and their futures. The federal court has ruled that the immigration department’s policy of putting citizenship applications from boat-borne arrivals “in a drawer” where they were deliberately ignored, was not lawful, and has ordered that the applications be properly assessed. Minister Dutton’s department has until 28th February to respond to the federal court’s ruling.  The Refugee Convention, to which Australia is a party and legally bound, prohibits discrimination against a person based on their method of arrival in a country.

Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

14.2.17

Newsletter for 14 February 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Belllingen and Nambucca Disticts

Roadside Demo Report
Reza Barati
Medical care in offshore detention





Roadside demonstration report

We held our first roadside demonstration of 2017  by the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour last week. As always, we received lots of positive support from passing motorists at this busy spot. What was disturbing, though, was the significant increase in the number of negative responses, which took a variety of forms. It seems clear that over recent months, with the rise of populist demagogues , and the election of racists to our parliament, it has become legitimate to exercise one’s “right to be a bigot”, as Senator Brandis put it.  The Coalition government remains silent on the issues,  and the Opposition acquiesces in this race to the bottom. All the more reason for groups like ours to continue to carry the torch for a more compassionate and principled policy in relation to refugees. A big thank you to the seven supporters who turned up to the demo.
Our next roadside demonstration will be in Bellingen, adjacent to the Library on Waterfall Way on Thursday  23rd February at 3.00 pm. It would be great to have a few more people joining us.

Reza Barati

Three years ago, on 17th February 2014, Reza Barati, a  23 year old Iranian asylum seeker, was brutally murdered by a group of G4S guards, whose job it was to protect him.  Eventually, in 2016, two local guards were convicted of his murder and sentenced to  five years in jail. The judge gave them a lenient sentence on the basis that two other guards involved in Reza’s murder – an Australian and a New Zealander  - had left the Island and had not been arrested or charged. Their identities are apparently known to the authorities, but they remain at large. Our group was established soon after Reza’s death. We were deeply shocked by the incident, and by the Minister’s attempt to blame the refugees for the death and the many injuries inflicted on asylum seekers on that fateful night.  We initially had about 40 supporters. That number has grown over the past three years to more than 500, reflecting as it does the very significant community anger about our government’s cruel and inhumane asylum policies. We need to keep up the fight for the closure of the offshore centres and for the permanent resettlement of all the genuine refugees who currently languish in these two hellholes.

Medical care in offshore detention centres

The level of care for asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island is yet again under scrutiny in parliament.  The latest of many enquiries relates to the death of Faysal Ishak Ahmed, who suffered a seizure inside the Manus Island detention centre on 22nd December 2016, after months of complaining to doctors about his deteriorating health. He died in a Brisbane hospital two days later.  Faysal had sought medical help at least 13 times in the two months prior to his death. So concerned were other detainees about his poor health that they wrote a letter to the medical staff in which they pleaded for effective intervention to help him. They were ignored.  The sad truth is that the clinical opinions of doctors at the offshore detention centres are often overruled by bureaucrats in Canberra , who actively discourage the transfer of sick patients to the mainland. The president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine,  Prof. Anthony Lawler writes: “ACEM considers there is no evidence that the healthcare provided in regional processing centres is at a standard which would be acceptable or expected for any patient in Australia.”
The healthcare services in offshore detention centre are provided by International Health and Medical Services, a for-profit organisation.



Roadside demo at the Big Banana last week







Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

7.2.17

Newsletter for 7 February 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Valla Beach Market Report
The Trump Visa Bans
The Refugee Swap Deal - What is happening?
Next roadside demo - Big Banana Thurs 9th Feb




Valla Beach market report

The Valla Beach Market last Saturday was hot and relatively quiet but our stall was well stocked with volunteers, merchandise, and visitors. It is always gratifying to see people wander past, see the banners, and make a beeline for the petition. Most people need no convincing that our current policies on asylum seekers need changing. It is encouraging to know that so many people share our views and want change. 

Our next market will be on Sunday 26th February at Coffs Harbourside market, from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm

Trump bans entry to the USA from seven Muslim-majority countries

The recent ban announced by the US president is deeply troubling for the world, feeding in, as it inevitably does and as it is intended, to the deep-seated xenophobia which is rapidly becoming mainstream in the USA, in much of Europe and in Australia. The ban seeks to paint all people of the Muslim faith as potential terrorists, to be feared and mistrusted. The ban includes a temporary halt to all refugees and a permanent ban on people fleeing the conflict in Syria. Many world leaders have criticised the actions of the president, but our own prime minister has been silent on the issue.  Not so minister Scott Morrison, a strong Trump supporter, who boasted that the strong action taken by the US president is a sign that the rest of the world is finally catching up with Australia’s successful border protection policy. Getting tough with the most vulnerable people in our world is as easy as it is deplorable and we should continue to speak out against it as best as we can.

The Australia-USA refugee swap. Deal or no deal?

We have had a week of complete confusion in relation to the “deal” to exchange our refugees and asylum seekers for an unknown number of people from South America who have fled violence in their home countries. We know little about the proposals, other than from the US president and his spokesperson, who have stated at various times that the president is willing to “consider” taking 1250 people from Manus Island and Nauru, and that they will be subjected to “extreme vetting”. There are more than 1800 refugees and asylum seekers in these two locations. In addition there are another 300+ who have at various times been brought to the mainland for medical treatment and who remain here as a result of successful intervention by various refugee organisations, but who face being forcibly returned to offshore detention at the whim of the minister. In the meantime, these desperate people have their hopes raised, then shattered on an almost daily basis. We are causing them immense harm, and they have done no wrong. It is time for our Prime Minister to close the offshore detention centres and to bring the people here for processing and resettlement. In the last few days, in an unprecedented move, more than 70 organisations from across the country, led by the Refugee Council of Australia, have come together to call for an immediate evacuation of the offshore detention centres. You can read the joint statement by clicking here:............ This is an important initiative which we want to support in every way we can.

Roadside Demonstration at The Big Banana: Thursday 9th February. 3.00 – 4.30 pm

Our first roadside demonstration of 2017 will take place by the Pacific Highway, beneath the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour on Thursday 9th February. Wouldn’t it be great to send a strong message to our local member of parliament that we are determined to keep up the fight for the closure of offshore detention centres! Please try to join us if you can. We have lots of banners and placards to share . We passionately believe that the roadside demos, and the markets, are a great way to keep up the pressure and ensure that the terrible plight of our asylum seekers is not hidden away, as the government would wish. If you can help, please email Mike at :mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com.  

BREAKING: Refugee movement comes together to call for immediate evacuation of offshore camps
In an unprecedented move, over 70 organisations from across the country, led by the Refugee Council of Australia, have come together to call for an immediate evacuation of the offshore detention camps. 

The joint statement comes after a week of chaos regarding the possibility of a US resettlement deal, with Donald Trump's administration (and Twitter account) releasing multiple conflicting statements regarding the fate of the hundreds of men, women and children trapped in limbo. Many of the people imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru are from countries currently excluded from entering the US under Trump's travel ban. 

Although Malcolm Turnbull maintains that the deal is still on, it was revealed this week that there is no minimum requirement of people to be accepted. As such, the deal could technically go ahead without a single person being resettled. 

This uncertainty has caused unthinkable mental anguish to those trapped on Nauru and Manus. These people have already endured physical and sexual abuse, torture and trauma and many have taken, or attempted to take, their own lives.  Directly after the announcement of the travel ban, one teenager tragically attempted suicide. 

It's high time that this race to the bottom ended.  People's lives are at stake. 


And remember - in a race to the bottom there are no winners.






Valla Beach Market Stall

Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

31.1.17

Newsletter for 31 January 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Diastricts

Report on meeting with Luke Hartsuyker MP
Valla Beach Market Stall - Sat 4th Feb
Next roadside demo - Big Banana Thurs 9th Feb



Report on our meeting with Luke Hartsuyker MP

Last Tuesday Sue, Peter and Mike had a 30-minute meeting with our Federal MP in order to present him with our RAR petition and to discuss with him the appalling treatment of asylum  seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. In truth, it would be a serious overstatement to suggest that we engaged in a discussion with Mr Hartsuyker. The sad truth is that, in spite of our best efforts to get a reaction from him, he sat in silence until the final few minutes of our allotted time. Only then, when pressed to react to the facts that we had put before him, did he speak. He restated the Coalition’s border protection policy and the government’s success in stopping the boats and saving lives at sea.  He steadfastly refused to be drawn on any of the issues that we had raised and was unwilling to acknowledge the reality that the government’s policy is inflicting untold damage on innocent people, is causing great damage to Australia’s international reputation, and is immensely costly for Australian taxpayers.

On Wednesday, we issued a press release, which we sent to the local press in Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads.  An article based on the press release was published on the online edition of the Bellingen Courier Mail almost immediately. You can read the article by following this link - http://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/4426526/hartsuyker-stands-by-coalitions-asylum-policy/?cs=483

The press release reads:
PRESS RELEASE
Hartsuyker stands by Coalition’s asylum policy

A delegation representing the 500-strong local Rural Australians for Refugees group met on Tuesday 24th January with our Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker. The purpose of the meeting was to present him with a petition, signed by some 400 local people, which calls on the government to close the offshore centres on Manus Island and Nauru. The two centres have a history of inflicting untold harm and suffering on the detainees, who are held there indefinitely, at great financial cost to the Australian taxpayer. These people have committed no crime. They have fled wars and persecution in their home countries to seek safety for themselves and their families, as is their right under international law. The three-person delegation spent half an hour talking to Mr Hartsuyker – who remained passive and silent throughout – about the inhumanity, immorality and illegality of punishing men, women and children through a deliberate policy of cruelty aimed at deterring others from reaching our shores. They reminded Mr Hartsuyker about the countless reports and accounts of the conditions for asylum seekers in offshore detention, all of which paint a clear and consistent picture of a system which is deliberately designed to harm people and to break their spirits.

At the end of the meeting, when asked to comment, Mr Hartsuyker reiterated the Coalition’s policy of protecting our borders, stopping the boats, and saving lives at sea.  He steadfastly refused to be drawn on the reality of the cruelty and suffering inflicted on asylum seekers in offshore detention, where self-harm, physical and sexual abuse are daily occurrences, and where suicides and preventable deaths seem to be the acceptable price to be paid to help to “keep us safe”. He also refused to entertain the idea that other, more humane, courses of action might be preferable.

A spokesperson for the group, Mike Griffin, commented: "We explained to Mr Hartsuyker that we have long since lost count of the number of people who approach us at our market stalls to tell us that the government’s cruel policy on asylum seekers makes them feel ashamed to call themselves Australian. Sadly, Mr Hartsuyker was not interested. It appears that moral leadership and principle are woefully lacking in the current political climate.”

Next Market Stall: Saturday 4th February

Following the success of our recent market in Bellingen, we are now planning for our next market stall at Valla Beach on Saturday 4th February. It would be great to see some new faces, as well as welcoming old hands! If you can help for a while between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, then please let us know by emailing: bellingen.rar@gmail.com .It’s a great opportunity to have a chat with fellow supporters and to engage with the market goers, who are always overwhelmingly supportive of our work.

Roadside Demonstration at The Big Banana: Thursday 9th February. 3.00 – 4.30 pm

Our first roadside demonstration of 2017 will take place by the Pacific Highway, beneath the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour on Thursday 9th February. Wouldn’t it be great to send a strong message to our local member of parliament that we are determined to keep up the fight for the closure of offshore detention centres! Please try to join us if you can. We have lots of banners and placards to share . We passionately believe that the roadside demos, and the markets, are a great way to keep up the pressure and ensure that the terrible plight of our asylum seekers is not hidden away, as the government would wish. If you can help, please email Mike at :mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com.  




Check out the index of subjects on our blog  http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au 
It includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers.

This newsletter is sent to >480 recipients

(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


The National RAR web site is at  www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au 

The National RAR facebook site is at  RAR Facebook

30.1.17

letter to Luke Hartsuyker ...welcome others to share their culture..."

Dear Mr Hartsuyker

In 2001 the Norwegian ship Tampa rescued from the ocean, according to  the ethical code of the sea, a few hundred mainly Afghan asylum seekers.  When the ship sailed over the horizon towards Australia, then Prime Minister John Howard did not see it as an opportunity to extend a helping hand to those who had fled misery.  He saw it as a chance to win more votes in the up-coming election by appealing to baser instincts such as xenophobia, anxiety and the mean refusal to share the goodness most of us enjoy as a result of our forebears' immigrating here. 

Meanwhile, in the NSW central west electorate of Calare, the Independent incumbent, Peter Andren, refused to side with the Coalition on this issue and wished to welcome the refugees.  He said he must follow his conscience & do the right thing, even if it cost him votes.  The typical Calare voter is a cattle farmer, not a latte-sipping leftie or a bleeding-heart greenie.  However, in the election, Peter Andren's vote soared.

Uniting a country by fear-mongering and vilifying those fleeing war, suffering and persecution is not guaranteed to win votes and harms a nation's soul and its reputation.  Your impassive behaviour during your meeting with representatives of our local RAR group might lead to the interpretation  that you have bought into the party line that ethics can be sold for the Pyrrhic victory of staying in power.

You appear to be proud of your Dutch heritage and culture.  Cannot you welcome others to share their culture and to benefit the way your family has from what was once a great and generous-spirited nation?  Please don't stand by passively while the qualities that made Australia a nation in which we could all rejoice are eroded to meanness and selfishness.

Yours faithfully

Mary Forbes


Eungai Creek 

25.1.17

Press release after meeting with Luke Hartsuyker 24 Jan 2017

Press Release meeting with Luke Hartsuyker

PRESS RELEASE
Hartsuyker stands by Coalition’s asylum policy

A delegation representing the 500-strong local Rural Australians for Refugees group met on Tuesday 24th January with our Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker. The purpose of the meeting was to present him with a petition, signed by some 400 local people, which calls on the government to close the offshore centres on Manus Island and Nauru. The two centres have a history of inflicting untold harm and suffering on the detainees, who are held there indefinitely, at great financial cost to the Australian taxpayer. These people have committed no crime. They have fled wars and persecution in their home countries to seek safety for themselves and their families, as is their right under international law. The three-person delegation spent half an hour talking to Mr Hartsuyker – who remained passive and silent throughout – about the inhumanity, immorality and illegality of punishing men, women and children through a deliberate policy of cruelty aimed at deterring others from reaching our shores. They reminded Mr Hartsuyker about the countless reports and accounts of the conditions for asylum seekers in offshore detention, all of which paint a clear and consistent picture of a system which is deliberately designed to harm people and to break their spirits.
At the end of the meeting, when asked to comment, Mr Hartsuyker reiterated the Coalition’s policy of protecting our borders, stopping the boats, and saving lives at sea.  He steadfastly refused to be drawn on the reality of the cruelty and suffering inflicted on asylum seekers in offshore detention, where self-harm, physical and sexual abuse are daily occurrences, and where suicides and preventable deaths seem to be the acceptable price to be paid to help to “keep us safe”. He also refused to entertain the idea that other, more humane, courses of action might be preferable.
A spokesperson for the group, Mike Griffin, commented: "We explained to Mr Hartsuyker that we have long since lost count of the number of people who approach us at our market stalls to tell us that the government’s cruel policy on asylum seekers makes them feel ashamed to call themselves Australian. Sadly, Mr Hartsuyker was not interested. It appears that moral leadership and principle are woefully lacking in the current political climate.”

Bellingen and Nambucca Districts Rural Australians for Refugees.

Contact: Mike Griffin, 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach NSW 2448. Tel 6569 5419