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".




28.9.16

Newsletter for 27 September 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside demo report
Next popup roadside demos
Next market stall - Sat Oct 1st Valla Beach
A few facts and figures
Upcoming Helfgott concert

Roadside Demonstration Report
Last Thursday's roadside demonstration in Coffs Harbour was a great success. We had a great turnout of fifteen supporters, which ensured  that we were a very visible presence with our banners and placards. As usual, there was lots of support from passing motorists who waved, gave us the thumbs up and sounded their horns. These roadside demos are an excellent way to help get our message across about the urgent need to bring Australia's cruel offshore detention regime to an end.
Why not consider joining us for our next demo which will be in Toormina, on Hogbin Drive, opposite the fire station and in the direction of the Sawtell Garden Centre?  Date and time: Thursday 13th October from 3.00 pm until 4.30 pmIf you can attend, please email Robin at: robinhesketh@hotmail.com. to let him know.

Programme for roadside demonstrations
Thursday 13th October in Toormina, opposite the fire station on Hogbin Drive.
Thursday 27th October outside the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.
Thursday 10th November on the Pacific Highway in Nambucca Heads, adjacent to the Plaza shopping Centre.
Thursday 24th November in Bellingen on Waterfall Way adjacent to the public library.
All the demos start at 3.30 pm and end at 4.30 pm.

Our next market stall: Saturday 1st October at Valla Beach
A reminder that our next market stall will be this coming Saturday at Valla Beach. We are looking for supporters to join us between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm. If you can come along to help for an hour or so, please email Mike at: mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com.  The market stalls are always pleasant occasions: the opportunity for us to get together for a chat, interact with market goers and, most importantly, to get our message out there about the dreadful treatment of asylum seekers languishing in limbo on Nauru and Manus Island.

Refugees: a few facts and figures from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees
·        There are now 65.3 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced. Of these, 21.3 million are recognised as refugees. This figure of 21.3 million comprises 16.1 million who come under the umbrella of the UNHCR mandate, and 5.2 million Palestinian refugees who are the responsibility of another UN agency, UNRWA.
·        The UNHCR budget rose to a record $5.3 billion in 2013. The Agency currently works in 126 countries, helping to care for 16.1 million people. By contrast, the Australian government has spent $9.6 billion since 2013 creating utter misery  for a few thousand asylum seekers in order to prevent them, and deter others, from coming to Australia.
·        According to UNHCR, Australia is ranked 25th overall in its resettlement of refugees. On a per capita basis, Australia ranks 32nd, and on a GDP comparison basis, ranks 47th. These statistics have remained constant for the past decade.
·        Just three countries in the world account for 54% of the refugee total. They are Somalia (1.1 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Syria (4.9 million).
·        Approximately 86% of the world's refugees are hosted in poor, developing countries. These include Jordan (664,000), Ethiopia (736,000), Iran (979,000), Lebanon (1.1 million), Pakistan (1.6 million) and Turkey (2.5 million).

Upcoming concert
There is to be a concert, in Bellingen at the Memorial Hall, next month in support of refugees. It is to be given by David Helfgott. There is also going to be another pianist playing with David.

The concert is on Sunday 27th November at 2pm. It is $70 a ticket and you can contact Mark Hallam at Sanctuary Australia Foundation (6652 2127). 

A good turn out at the Coffs popup demo last week.





Our blog is at http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au and includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers

check out the index of subjects on the blog

The newsletter is sent to 414 recipients


(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


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

20.9.16

Newsletter for 20 September 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Newsletter for 20 September 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Bellingen Market report
Next popup roadside demo - Thursday 22nd Coffs
Donations to Asylum Seekers Centre
New supporters
UN Human Rights Office calls for end to offshore detention

Bellingen Market Report
We had another very successful market in Bellingen on Saturday. The weather was beautiful, the crowds turned out and lots of people visited our stall to find out more about our campaign,  sign the petition, buy our asylum seeker merchandise and donate to the Asylum Seekers Centre. As always, many of the visitors to our stall expressed their dismay about our government’s cruel and inhumane policy of indefinite offshore detention. We  know that we are better than this, and that we must therefore maintain the pressure on both the Coalition and the Labor opposition to end the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus. It’s worth remembering too that our government has spent more than $9 billion since 2013 on keeping our asylum seekers out of sight, in the hope that they will also be out of mind.
Our next market will be at Valla Beach on Saturday 1st October. This will be the final  opportunity to collect signatures on our petition before sending them to Canberra. Please put the date in your diary and think about coming to join us for a while.
Roadside Demonstration: Thursday 22nd September in Coffs Harbour. 3.00 pm until 4.30 pm. 
Our next roadside demonstration is just two days away. We will be by the Pacific Highway, opposite the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital, by the northbound carriageway. Please, please consider joining us, even for part of the time. We have lots of placards and banners to share, but we need at least ten people to make an impact. If you can join us, please email Robin at: robinhesketh@hotmail.com. A strong, visual presence does help us to get our message across.
Donations to the Asylum Seekers Centre

People have kindly continued to donate  to the ASC at our markets, and we have had good sales of our T-shirts, bags and tea towels. As a result, we have been able to make a second donation of $150 to the ASC to support their excellent work with refugees in Newtown.

New Supporters

We are delighted to tell you that our numbers continue to grow. In the past month, 24 new supporters have joined us. A big welcome to them all. We hope that you will consider getting involved in our activities in the months ahead. There are undoubtedly lots of people out there who would be interested to receive our weekly updates. If you know of anyone, please ask them to sign up by simply emailing us at: bellingen.rar@gmail.com.
 UN Human Rights Office calls on Australia to end Offshore Detention
The Australian Government’s continued support for offshore detention was strongly opposed this week in a report from the UN Human Rights Office.
The report reads “Australia must show political courage and end the indefinite detention of asylum seekers held on Nauru ”. This statement was made by the new Pacific representative of the United Nation Human Rights Office, Chitralekha Massey.
In an interview with Guardian Australia she said that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Nauru “is an unsustainable violation”. The continuing reports of abuse, self-harm and sexual assault had created an alarming environment at the centre that Massey said needed be resolved. Massey encouraged the Australian government to bring an end to the detention of men, women and children on Nauru, where hundreds of asylum seekers languished in “not only prolonged, but indefinite” detention. “We have repeatedly reported our concerns around healthcare, around education and  access to justice,” she said.
Massey said that the asylum seekers held on Nauru had to be given the opportunity to resettle in Australia or another country if they had been found to be refugees.
United Nations General Assembly and a key migration summit hosted by the United States president, Barack Obama, will be held next week. The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, will be both be in attendance.
We await the outcome with concern. It will be interesting to see if international pressure has any influence on our present government’s  policy .
Marlene Griffin


​A beautiful day for the Bellingen Market stall.


Our blog is at http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au and includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers

check out the index of subjects on the blog

The newsletter is sent to 414 recipients


(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


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

15.9.16

Offshore detention is a financial disaster we cannot afford smh 15 April 2016

What if our government really wanted to save money? As well as going after $6.7 billion in its omnibus savings bill, it could go after the billions more it costs to run our immigration detention centres: $9.2 billion in the past three years, $3.9 billion to $5.5 billion in the next four, according to the most complete accounting yet of the costs normally hidden in inaccessible parts of the the budget.
It comes as an Audit Office report identifies the cost per offshore detainee: a gobsmacking $573,100 per year.


Play
0:00
/
0:00
Fullscreen
Mute

Detention's mind-boggling cost

It costs tax-payers more than half-a-million dollars for each asylum seeker detained on Manus Island and Nauru, a new report concludes.
For that price – $1570 per day – we could put them up in a Hyatt and pay them the pension 15 times over.
It costs less than half that, $200,000 a year, to house a typical onshore prisoner; a mere fraction of that, $72,000 including super, to pay a typical full-time worker, and just $20,700 a year to pay a full pensioner.
Ninety-nine per cent of the population don't come anywhere near $573,100 a year in income or cost. The census stops asking when income sails past $156,000.
But the comparison with wages isn't strictly valid. It understates the outrageousness of the $573,100 price tag. The $573,100 isn't being paid in return for a detainee's labour, in return for a contribution to society, as are wages. It is being paid to prevent the detainee contributing to society. It is what economists call a deadweight loss. We get nothing in return for it, apart from less of what we could have had.
And perhaps because it is not meant to make economic sense (and perhaps because the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has operated as something of a law unto itself), it hasn't even made financial sense.
The Audit Office says the department breached public service guidelines by not conducting proper tenders for the contracts to provide services to Manus Island and Nauru, at times falsely claiming it faced urgent and unforeseen circumstances.

Illustration: Joe Benke 

"The available record does not indicate that urgent or unforeseen circumstances existed," the Audit Office says. "The record suggests that the department first selected the provider and then commenced a process to determine the exact nature, scope and price of the services to be delivered."
The department's approach to selecting one provider to service both centres from 2014 "removed competition from the outset". There is no record of staff completing conflict-of-interest declarations, no record of the checks that would have discovered that a director of one of the subcontractors had faced bribery charges and was later acquitted.

Manus Island: Causing suffering to complement and reinforce the 'turnback' strategy was always morally questionable, but it is now unnecessary. Photo: The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship via Getty Images

After being selected without a proper tender, the new provider extracted an extra $1.1 billion from Australian taxpayers, which was agreed to without going back to the contractors who had just been sacked. The price per detainee shot up from $201,000 to $573,100.
Astonishingly, the report says the department didn't tell its minister at the time, Scott Morrison, that the deal required the Commonwealth to pay a "significant premium over and above the historical costs". Nor did it tell him the price per head.
For that price - $1570 per day - we could put them up in the Hyatt and pay them the pension 15 times over.
The department was not only shielded from public accountability, it also managed to hide things from its minister.
UNICEF and Save the Children  get the $9.2 billion figure in their report At What Cost? from the numbers scattered around various parts of the official record. They say there are less specific other costs they haven't included, among them regular independent and senate inquiries, the defence of High Court challenges, and compensation for detention centre employees who have suffered as a result of what they have been exposed to.
Intriguingly, the cost of boat turnbacks, the part of the government's policy that has probably been the most effective in deterring asylum seekers, is tiny by comparison: just $295 million over three years, compared with $9.2 billion for continuing to hold asylum seekers in detention.
And there's a whole other set of costs, which At What Cost wrongly labels non-economic, hidden from the public by gag clauses: self-harm, suicide attempts and mental deterioration, especially among children. Economists would say they destroy human capital. Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, titled his magnum opus An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations because he had discovered that that's what gave nations wealth – not gold or notes or coins, but human beings who could provide goods and services.
Deliberately or carelessly deprecating human capital is perhaps the worst crime against humanity. The Commonwealth Treasury thinks so. Chief among the goals in its wellbeing framework is giving people "substantive freedom to lead a life they have reason to value".
It has fallen to Malcolm Turnbull to end a system that has passed its use-by date. Even criminals aren't locked up indefinitely on the pretence that their cases are being "processed". The decision of Papua New Guinea to close the Manus Island detention centre makes a decision more urgent. On Friday he meets the president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, to discuss the way forward. She says we should move from deterrence to prevention. It would cost so much less.
Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age

13.9.16

Newsletter for 13 September 2016 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Popup demonstration: Thursday 22nd September Coffs Harbour
Next Market Stall: Sat 17th September Bellingen
Life on Manus

Roadside Demonstration Report: Bellingen

A big thank you to all the supporters who turned out for our most recent roadside demonstration last Thursday in Bellingen. We received huge support from motorists and passers-by, and it is clear that our message, and that of many other groups around the nation, is having an impact. More and more Australians now agree that the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on remote islands is cruel, morally indefensible and simply unsustainable. The government’s strategy and expectation is that these people, being kept out of sight, will also be out of mind. They are not, and we intend, with the help of our supporters, to keep up the pressure until the government and the Labor opposition change their policy.
Our next roadside demonstration will be in Coffs Harbour by the Pacific Highway, opposite the Base Hospital on Thursday 22nd Septemberfrom 3.00 pm until 4.30 pm. Please consider joining us, if only for part of the time. We do need at least 10 people to make a significant impact. If you are able to join us, please email Robin at: robinhesketh@hotmail.com to let him know.
Next  Market: Bellingen Market on Saturday 17th September
Our next market is just a few days away, on Saturday 17th September in Bellingen. Our stall is usually located beneath the scoreboard, so we are easy to find - site F-8 if that makes it easier. Mike and Robin will be setting up at 7.00 am and are seeking volunteers to help from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. If you can help for an hour or so, please email Mike at: mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com to let him know when you can come. We are still collecting signatures for our petition, and as usual we’ll be handing out information leaflets,chatting to market-goers and selling our merchandise. As you probably know, all the profits from sales are donated  the Asylum Seekers Centre, which is based in Newtown.
Life on Manus Island. Has anything changed?

Many months have passed since the PNG courts ruled that the Manus Island detention centre must close, having determined that the detention of  asylum seekers is unlawful. Minister Dutton has in recent times visited PNG to meet the Prime Minister, and subsequently confirmed what we already knew, namely that the centre will close.
So what has changed? The short answer is “nothing at all, so far”. No date has been set for the closure, and the Australian taxpayer continues to fund  the ongoing detention of more than 900 men to the tune of $400,000 each per annum. These refugees and asylum seekers continue to be told that there are no circumstances in which they will be resettled in Australia. They continue to be encouraged to return to their countries of origin, in spite of the fact that the majority of them have been processed and found to be under genuine need of protection under international law. The alternative on offer is for them to be resettled in PNG, a poor country in which they know they are not welcome and where they face real dangers. Some of these men, many of whom have been suffering in this terrible place for more than three years, have families already settled in Australia. When will we finally act with compassion and humanity, and bring them here?
An apology
Last week we inadvertently missed the Bcc selection. Our apologies for this “slip of the mouse”. We hope that it didn’t cause any difficulties or embarrassment for anyone.


Our spirited and committed supporters in Bellingen last week.



Our blog is at http://bellorar.blogspot.com.au and includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians and newspapers

check out the index of subjects on the blog

The newsletter is sent to 414 recipients


(482 likes)

Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam


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

11.9.16

Law students enlisted to help clear asylum seeker claims backlog the Age 11 sep 2016




La Trobe law students enlisted to help 

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre clear 

claims backlog


An asylum seeker sits down in front of you, and tells you her life story. She hands over her papers, if she has any. She speaks only halting English, or perhaps none at all. The forms, with more than 60 questions, baffle her. Her life is on the line. And your task is to prepare the paperwork that will help her try to prove to the government that she deserves Australian protection.
This is not a drill.



Kobra Moradi from Afghanistan came to Australia in 2005, sponsored by her father, who came as a refugee in 2000. She is now a third-year law and international relations student at La Trobe University. Photo: Justin McManus

From Monday, students from La Trobe University's law school will be enlisted to help the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre clear a backlog of asylum claims; the so-called "legacy caseload" of tens of thousands of people who arrived in the surge in boat people coming under the Gillard and Rudd governments and whose asylum claims have still not been assessed.
Under changes introduced by Tony Abbott in 2014, thousands who arrived in Australia by boat between August 13, 2012 and December 31, 2013 are subject to so-called "fast track" measures. They can only apply for temporary protection visas and have limited avenues of appeal if their applications are not successful.
It's estimated 24,000 fall into this category – 10,000 of them in Victoria.
Refugee agencies have been overwhelmed by the sheer size of the group, and by the cuts to legal representation to asylum seekers (the Law Institute of Victoria says since 2014, the government has cut 80 per cent of funding for legal assistance to asylum seekers). 
Launching the project on Monday is Kobra​ Moradi​, who will bring a unique experience to her task: the 20-year-old Afghan-born woman came to Australia in 2005, sponsored by her father, who came as a refugee in 2000. She is now a third-year law and international relations student.
"My father could have been interviewed by someone who was against refugees or who didn't believe him, but they felt his pain and they believed him," she said.
"For that reason, now I live under the protection of one of the most powerful states in the world, without checkpoints and without people following me everywhere. Your humanity's recognised and therefore your rights are recognised."
Law school students will help hundreds of people fill in their paperwork, each spending up to 15 days on their task. Their work will count towards their course and their work will be strictly supervised by solicitors and teachers.
La Trobe's Head of Law Professor Patrick Keyzer said the unique partnership was based on shared beliefs.
"Both the law school and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre value human rights education for law students and high-quality legal education with a strong commitment to social justice, global issues and hands on perspective. This collaboration embodies all of that," Professor Keyzer said.