Buddies Refugee Support Group
A recent photo of Tharunicaa (left) and Kopika on Christmas Island. They have now spent three years in immigration detention.
SBS NEWS, 6 MAY 2021
New Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has sought advice on the family’s living situation, hinting at the possibility they could be released into community detention on the remote island while their legal battle to remain in the country continues.
    “The welfare of that family on Christmas Island is clearly an issue that I have turned my mind to,” she said recently. “In terms of other accommodation that may be available to them on Christmas Island, that’s an ongoing discussion that I am having with our officials. I will make a response in the not too distant future.”
    In an earlier interview Ms Andrews was asked whether she felt compassion for the family who have spent more than three years in immigration detention. She said she was a “very compassionate person by nature” but declined to comment specifically on her feelings for the family.... MORE

RALLY: Free the Medevac refugees

Refugee Action Collective Queensland

11am, Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA), 100 Sugar Mill Road, Pinkenba
About 35 Medevac refugees continue to be imprisoned at BITA. RAC are calling this demonstration to show our solidarity with them and to remind them they are not forgotten. Speakers include Senator Larissa Waters, Qld Greens. Please join us... MORE
Sunday 30 May, 11am
11am, ‘Connections on King’, cnr King St and Gloucester Rd Buderim (enter via Gloucester Road)
This will be our second face-to-face Buddies meeting of the year, to be held at our regular venue.
    We are very excited to have Narelle Matheson, a retired social worker, with lived experience of working in offshore detention centres, as our next guest speaker. Most recently, Narelle provided Case Management support for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus and in Port Moresby from early 2014 to 2018.
    It will be an informal setting (Q&A type of interaction) – so bring along all your most 'curly' questions…
Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. The ultimate aim of the celebration is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration enabling refugees to live in safety and to continue making a valuable contribution to Australia... MORE

There may be no easy answers to how to respond to refugees, but somehow we seem to have bipartisan support for the worst possible answer.

– Jon “Airships” Kudelka, journalist, on Twitter

MEMBERSHIP REMINDER: Calling all members and new members-to-be

MEMBERSHIP is now due (July 21 – June 22)
    Your membership of $10/pa goes a long way in covering our liability insurance (essential for us to operate as a not-for-profit organisation) – and then any extra donations and funds raised can go directly towards helping refugees. NB: Membership for monthly donors is automatically renewed.


After much searching over a number of months, we have been fortunate to find a real treasure – Clare Arico.  She replaces James Fowler who faithfully and diligently served in this role for over three years. Buddies is in a very stable position after James’ care and governance.
   Clare is suitably qualified in finance and accounts, currently working full-time in this role. As well, she shares a strong passion for the plight of refugees and asylum seekers – which we thought makes a perfect “fit” for the role.
    Feel free to introduce yourself to Clare when you’re next at a meeting or event...

SIGN THE PETITION: End family separation now


A shocking new report from the Human Rights Law Centre reveals successive governments have intentionally separated thousands of families as part of their cruel treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. From pregnant women separated from their husbands, forced to raise their children alone, to parents unable to bring their kids here to safety.
    But since Karen Andrews has taken over as the new Minister of Home Affairs we have an amazing opportunity to shift how this Government operates.

CALL KAREN ANDREWS: Give people time to prepare for their interviews

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

The Home Affairs Minister is planning to ram through all remaining interviews for refugee protection claims under the so-called ‘Fast Track’ process, by the end of June. It’s up to us to make sure the government backs down from this unfair and unnecessary rush, and ensure people have enough time to present their case.
Take Action Now: Call Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on (02) 6277-7860... MORE

REPORT: Buddies donors and volunteers – how is your money being spent?

Penny Rivlin, Finance Group

Penny gives an informative overview of Buddies’ recent financial activities, including where we donate (Communify, Indooroopilly Uniting Church Refuee Support and Romero). Buddies has also sent $1000 to help those released from Kangaroo Point. Other topics covered are membership, Learn English Holiday, Scott Grimmett’s avocado orchard, bottle recycling and a thank you to outgoing treasurer James Fowler... READ THE FULL REPORT

The People v Peter Dutton: Legal Fund

It’s the moment any activist dreads, a legal threat from someone who is powerful and well-connected. And for what? For expressing an opinion, by way of critique and commentary, that the politician does not like. Minister for Defence Dutton has brought defamation proceedings against refugee activist Shane Bazzi – merely an attempt to silence Shane and others like him from expressing a particular view that Mr Dutton did not like... READ MORE 


Len Mangan, Buddies director

A refugee in the Nambour area is looking for an apprenticeship as an electrician. Can someone provide this opportunity, or know of contacts who could help.
   If so please contact Len on (07) 5494 9965 or mobile 0419 664 524.

iView: One Plus One: Moz Azimi with Kurt Fearnley

Kurdish refugee Mostafa Azimitabar fled Iran in 2013, attempting to come to Australia by boat. Almost eight years later he was released into the community, after a journey that took him to Christmas Island, Manus Island, Port Moresby and two inner city Melbourne hotels… WATCH

Concerns over government’s ‘fast track’ interview process for people seeking asylum

SBS News, 8 May

Advocates are concerned hundreds of asylum seekers who’ve been waiting years for their refugee applications to be processed have been given just two weeks to prepare for “the most important interview of their lives”.
    Several asylum seekers who arrived by boat before 2014 have been invited for interviews with the Department of Home Affairs to assess their protection applications. They have been given just two weeks’ notice.
    There are concerns many of them face language and financial barriers, and some don’t know where to go for help as they prepare for interviews that may determine whether or not they can stay in the country... more

Budget immigration costs: Australia will spend almost $3.4m for each person in offshore detention

The Guardian, 12 May

Australia will spend nearly $812m on its offshore immigration processing system next year – just under $3.4m for each of the 239 people now held on Nauru or in PNG.
    On the figures presented in Tuesday’s budget, it costs Australian taxpayers $9,305 every day for each person held held on Nauru or in PNG. The Home Affairs portfolio budget papers forecast $811.8m to be spent on offshore management next financial year, before dropping to a little over $300m annually the following year.
    There are now 239 refugees and asylum seekers held offshore by Australia – 109 on Nauru and 130 in PNG – $3.39m for each person next year... more

Asylum seekers denied access to bridging visas work illegal jobs to survive

ABC News, 3 May

No work rights, no study rights, no access to Medicare. Refugees are being denied access to bridging visas whilst the government assesses their asylum claims. One asylum seeker says he and others in his situation are forced rely on charities and illegal jobs to survive.
That’s the situation facing a number of asylum seekers who are being denied access to bridging visas while they await claims for permanent protection.
One asylum seeker, Ahmed*, said living without a visa was forcing him underground and severely damaging his mental health.
“I cannot do anything,” he said. “Every door is closed for me.”... more

Tamils in Australia condemn gifting of surveillance drones to Sri Lankan authorities

SBS News, 29 April

Members of the Tamil community have condemned the federal government’s gifting of five drones to Sri Lankan police, amid fears they could be used negatively against the country’s ethnic minority.
   Recently Australian Border Force said the drones were or use in “a wide range of activities” including natural disaster scene assessment, transnational crime investigation and countering maritime people smuggling.
    The move has raised eyebrows and alarm, including from the Tamil Refugee Council, which fears the drones might be used to help prevent Tamils from fleeing Sri Lanka and to monitor political activists... more

For Muslim refugees in detention, another sombre, isolated Eid holiday

The Conversation, 11 May

Around Australia, Muslims are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr – “the feast of breaking the fast” that marks the end of Ramadan.
Eid usually involves dawn prayers and gatherings – family and community are central to the celebrations.
    This Eid will be particularly significant for many in the Islamic faith, as COVID-19 curtailed last year’s festivities. Yet for Muslims in Australian immigration detention facilities, observances will be muted. Restrictions on visitors are escalating. This is not a new phenomenon. Long before COVID-19, restrictive visiting rules were separating detainees from their communities of support... more

Australia eyes Canada-style community sponsorship model in overhaul of refugee program

The Guardian, 10 May

The Morrison government is eyeing a Canadian model of community sponsorship of refugees after a review of Australia’s support program. The government is looking favourably at some elements of the Canadian scheme where private groups or community organisations cover the financial costs and settlement support for humanitarian entrants.
    Canada has welcomed more than 300,000 refugees since the community sponsorship program has been in place since the 1970s.
    The Commonwealth coordinator general for migrant services, Alison Larkins, conducted a review of Australia’s current support arrangements and has submitted detailed recommendations to Alex Hawke, the minister for immigration, citizenship, migrant services and multicultural affairs... more

Scott Morrison rules out making a ‘captain’s call’ for Tamil family

7 News, 4 May

Australia’s standing as a “generous country” is intact as the court process deciding the fate of a family of Tamil asylum-seekers held in immigration detention runs its course, PM Scott Morrison says. According to Morrison, Australia is one of the most welcoming countries in the world for refugees.
    “We’ve been taking people out of camps at a per capita rate second only to Canada in the world, and so Australia is a generous country, but we do it through a proper process,” he said recently. “We don’t do it through illegal entry into Australia.
    “There’s a legal process in Australia, there are policies in Australia, and we don’t customise those for any one individual.”
Supporters of the family have called on on Morrison to “make the captain’s call” and let them return to Queensland... more
Thank you to Gillian Duffy, Len Mangan, Penny Rivlin, Lynda Utting and Diana Woolley for their contributions to this edition.
Please send contributions for the newsletter to the editor. 

WEBSITE: Wendy Oakley

FACEBOOK: Anneliese Broadaway
Buddies is an independent community group based on the Sunshine Coast which advocates for just and compassionate treatment of refugees, consistent with the human rights standards which Australia has developed and endorsed.
   We support policies towards refugees and asylum seekers that reflect respect, decency and traditional Australian generosity to those in need, while advancing Australia’s international standing and national interests.
Confidentiality  Your email address is completely confidential.
To contribute to Buddies   Buddies’ fundraising contributes to refugee and asylum seeker support. You can direct debit to:
Suncorp Bank, BSB 484-799     
Account No: 123508960    
Account name: Buddies Refugee Support Group Ltd 
Your donations are much appreciated by those we help.

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Buddies Refugee Support Group · PO Box 367 · Buderim, Qld 4556 · Australia

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