Buddies Refugee Support Group
PaYam and Naza – existing on the fringes of society looking in.
Below: Volunteers transform a Perth tearoom into a food bank
PaYam and Naza (not their real names) are a married couple who live in Perth. They might currently call Australia home, but in reality, they exist on the fringes of society looking in. It’s a sort of shadow existence outside of the realms of what the average Australian would generally experience.
    “We’re just living here, sleeping here, walking here – but not like you,” Payam says.
    And they’re not alone. There are more than 70,000 asylum seekers in Australia for whom the federal government is yet to process applications for permanent visas, according to the Refugee Council of Australia. They come from many different parts of the world, and little more than 2 per cent of them – those considered the most ‘vulnerable’ – receive income support from the government. But the money they receive, capped at a maximum of $42 a day for an individual, still puts them below the poverty line in Australia.
Figures from the new Labor government’s latest budget show it has allocated $36.9 million for support payments to asylum seekers. Less than a decade ago, the federal government spent $300 million on such support payments.


Our first meeting for 2023 will be held on Sunday 26 February at 11am. More details to follow.

In 2023 let’s work together to see an end to mandatory detention of refugees, permanent protection for those waiting a decade for safety, every refugee in PNG and Nauru medically evacuated, a safety net & right to work for those seeking asylum & an increase in our refugee intake.
–  Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO ASRC, on Twitter

Email your MP: Evacuate PNG and Nauru

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Nine years after our government forced them to brutal offshore detention centres, close to 200 refugees and people seeking asylum are still trapped in PNG and Nauru. The former government finally accepted NZ’s offer to resettle 150 people per year in March last year. But after nine years of delay, the situation is critical.
Please email your MP now. Urge them to contact new Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, who has the power to urgently evacuate people abandoned in PNG and on Nauru while they await permanent resettlement.


Be involved in resettling a refugee family on the Sunshine Coast

by Buddies member Elissa Webster
Some likeminded friends and I have recently formed a Sunshine Coast group that is part of the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Program (CRISP). Now we’ve been allocated a family of 8 from the DR Congo who have been living in a refugee camp for the past 10 years.
    We are seeking tax-deductible donations, (2) donations of household goods, groceries etc, (3) temporary accommodation for 2-4 weeks in March and (4) options for long-term rental accommodation.
   If you would like to be involved in any capacity, email Elissa or phone her on 0414 874 086.

Finally... more arrivals, more to come!

by Ads-Up Canada
After a long period with no arrivals, we were pleased to welcome newcomers from Australia, PNG, and for the very first time, Nauru! We are so grateful to our settlement teams in Toronto and Peterborough for providing a beautiful welcome. More arrivals are planned for mid-January.


REPORT: Learn English Holiday, September 2022

by Lesley Willcoxson
The Learn English Holiday program will run again from 9-14 April 2023, but under a new name – the Living in Australia Program (LAP). (see video below)
Last September's LEH was a wonderful program in many ways: our homestay hosts and classroom volunteers have missed the opportunity to share their lives with and learn from the experiences of our refugee guests due to COVID-19, so this LEH program was extra special!
    On this occasion we had 26 participants in the program – from Ukraine (11) Iran (3), Afghanistan (5), Tibet (2), Iraq (4) and Syria (1). Along with the 17 adults and a teenager we also hosted 8 children under the age of 8, most of whom were here as part of a single-parent, female-led family.
    We therefore not only ran a program for adults but also ran a separate full program for the children so that their parents could have the freedom to spend time with other adults.


VIDEO: About the Living in Australia Program

This video of the Living in Australia Program (LEH renamed, as of October this year) explains what LEH/LAP is and does.  We first decided to rename it two years ago – learning English is no longer the primary focus –  It does express our focus, but also allows us to change the program content in the future without having to rename it!


Update: 'Send Sahar to Safety' campaign

by Welcome to Maleny
We at Welcome to Maleny are thrilled that Sahar has finally arrived safely in Canada.She has been warmly welcomed, and the transition from Indonesian life and saying goodbye to friends, to all the new friends and experiences she will have in Canada, is a lot to process!
    Thank you again so much for your support for this campaign. We simply could not have the impact we have, without your generosity. What a way to end the year!
   And Sahar is now, indeed, safe. 
The photo Sahar (right) and Ronalee, who Sahar is presently living with, enjoying some Christmas festivities!


REPORT: Buddies 20th anniversary dinner

Buddies members recently enjoyed a night of celebration and festivities at a multicultural buffet with entertainment held at Connections on King in Buderim
    Ex-Director Paul McKinlay and special guest Barbara Brewster, founder of Buddies, reminisced about the early years of Buddies and launched the recently produced book 20 years in the making.
    The event also included a buffet prepared by Siva, recent proprietor of Raj Restaurant in Noosaville, and an exhibition of multicultural dancing.


New Buddies publication: 20 years in the making

This 48-page booklet traces the history of Buddies from its inception in 2022 following the Tampa episode, through to its current status in 2022. The book was researched and written by ex-Director Paul McKinlay and produced by Bulletin editor Wendy Oakley.
     Books will be available at all future Buddies meetings and other events for a $10 donation.
    Books can also be purchased by post (free postage). Email with the subject '20 years purchase'. Details of our bank account for direct debit are at the foot of this Bulletin.


C'mon Buddies, put your hand up!

DIRECTORS: Our constitution requires a minimum of three Directors, preferably five, and we urgently require one or two ‘new’ Directors. If you are interested in the roles and responsibilities of being a Director, please phone Len (0419 664 524) or Lynda (0416 878 431) to discuss.

SECRETARY: The Secretary is responsible for keeping the register of members, keeping minutes of meetings, and receiving official correspondence. For further information please email current Secretary Gaynore Stoessel.

‘I can see my family again’: Qualifying for permanent residency

More than 19,000 refugees in Australia will finally be able to qualify for permanent residency after a decade on temporary protection visas, in a major policy change the federal government will unveil in the new year.
    The change will mean the refugees would be able to freely leave the country and return, to access secure work or full social security benefits and to send for their families to come to Australia.
    Iranian woman Maryam and her son are on temporary protection visas and their lives will be transformed if given permanent residency. Maryam, who fled to Australia a decade ago, said she had dreamed of seeing her parents and three sisters again and building a more stable life for her 12-year-old son in Sydney.

Legal challenge to indefinite immigration detention could determine freedom of hundreds

THE GUARDIAN, 30 Decenber

Up to 100 people released from immigration detention after Australian government loses court case

The legal basis of Australia’s system of indefinite immigration detention is set to be challenged in a case that could determine the freedom of hundreds of asylum seekers and people whose visas were cancelled.
    Advocates believe that indefiitely detained Egyptian man Tony Sami’s case paves the way to the possible overturning of  the 2004 decision upholding indefinite detention by the Migration Act
    In a judgment earlier in December, federal court Justice Debra Mortimer said Australia’s immigration system has achieved the “disgraceful objective” of desensitising officers to indefinite detention, making preliminary findings in favour of a man she said had “no real likelihood” of being removed from Australia in the near future.
A large number of detainees held in immigration detention have been released over the Christmas period, a move welcomed by advocates calling on Labor to accelerate its commitment to free those who pose a low risk to the public.
    Lawyers for asylum seekers and people whose visas were cancelled under the Migration Act’s character provisions reported that dozens had been released every day since 23 December from detention centres including Villawood and MITA.
     Advocates believe that some releases may have been triggered by the federal government losing a full federal court case on 22 December, in which the court ruled that aggregate sentences should not trigger automatic visa cancellation.

Behrouz Boochani was told he would never set foot in Australia. He just did

SBS News, 6 December
Behrouz Boochani has entered Australia three years after Peter Dutton said he would never be allowed to do so. But the Kurdish writer says his arrival should not be perceived as an achievement. He said his visit is work-related and that he would continue to advocate for refugees and asylum seekers.
    Now living in New Zealand, Mr Boochani arrived in Melbourne recently to promote his new book, Freedom Only Freedom.
    In 2019 he was granted a one-month visa to attend a New Zealand writers’ festival and, later in 2020, received asylum status.
    “I never fought to live in Australia. I was just trying, struggling to say that we are political hostages, so let us go,” he said. Mr Boochani accused the Labor government of remaining complacent towards asylum seekers who remain in offshore detention.

Should Australia create ‘settlement cities’ for refugees?

SBS NEWS, 9 December

On immigration integrity, the Labor government must not fail

‘Settlement cities’ in Sydney and Melbourne are welcoming places for newly arrived refugees with many settling into their new communities quickly.
    A new report has examined settlement cities,where refugees begin their lives in the country when they first arrive on visas, but said support for refugees from mainstream services was unevenly distributed.
    Afghan refugee Hamid Arfany is living in the Victorian city of Dandenong with his family and says he has felt welcome in the community from the start. “We have everything we need in Dandenong. There are other members of our community living nearby and the local council has programs that support us,” he said.
The Australian Border Force was not created from a platform of honesty and transparency, quite the opposite. Double talk and trickery underlie the political slurs used to dehumanise and criminalise boat people resulting in needless deaths, agony and brokenness. Labor must return to truth.
    Social media issued a collective sigh of relief when Labor was elected to govern. Prior to the 2022 election Australians were weighed down with concern rooted in years of frustration; the Coalition government had consistently failed to do the right thing.
    Offshore processing centres morphed into offshore penal compounds where people were warehoused indefinitely because of their ‘mode of entry.’

Howard’s government considered letting offshore detainees into Australia in 2002

Cabinet papers 2002: records show there were growing concerns about management of asylum seekers in Australia’s offshore detention centres. The records reveal the cabinet considered resettling those found to be refugees in Australia, but without announcing that it had done so.
    John Howard and his cabinet were facing growing criticism over long-term detention as they increasingly enforced boat turnbacks and offshore detention in an effort to stop asylum seekers reaching the mainland.
     Cabinet records from 2002, released recently by the National Archives, show there were growing concerns over detainees becoming increasingly “non compliant” and “unsettled” as they fought for information and spent months – sometimes years – incarcerated.
Thank you to Margaret Landbeck, Penny Rivlin, Lynda Utting, Elissa Webster, Lesley Willcoxson, Dee Williams and Diana Woolley for their contributions to this edition.
DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS: The next Bulletin will be out on Friday 10 February 2023.
Deadline for items is 5pm, Wednesday 8 February.
Please send contributions for the newsletter to the editor. 

WEBSITE: Wendy Oakley

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.




This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Buddies Refugee Support Group · PO Box 367 · Buderim, Qld 4556 · Australia

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp