Buddies Refugee Support Group
ReLove employee Mostafa Azimitabar with founder Renuka Fernando in the organisation’s Sydney warehouse. Below right: Azimitabar chose the furnishings provided by ReLove, and later became its first employee.
Kurdish refugee Moz Azimitabar has had places to sleep inside of detention centres on Manus Island and in Port Moresby, and more recently two hotels in Melbourne. But nothing resembling a home.
    A year ago Moz became the first employee of Sydney non-profit organisation ReLove. It was ReLove’s founders Renuka Fernando and Ben Stammer who fitted out his empty flat in Petersham, even making the bed for him.
     “They won’t give me a permanent resident visa, but this makes me feel like I am an Australian person. I can live like one. I can invite people, friends, I can cook for you,” said Moz. “It turned my house into a home.”
    The household goods were free. They were new or in excellent condition and, in contrast to most services like this, he could choose what he liked and needed at ReLove’s warehouse for people in crisis, which serves as a department store with no cash registers.
    It has been a transformative experience for Moz.
ReLove has refurbished 720 homes in the past year, and since the pandemic began, the organisation has provided about $9 million worth of furniture and white goods to a total of 900 homes. Visit the ReLove website.


There will be no Buddies meeting in December. The next meeting will be on Sunday 26 February 2023. See you next year!
Labor needs to stop trotting out the old Liberal Party lines and do what's right, rather than what's expedient or the path of least resistance, or the least politically risky.
–  Kate Curry, concerned citizen, on Twitter

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.


A new Director, and positions STILL vacant

Welcome to new Director Maree Keating

Maree began engaging with Buddies at the beginning of 2020. She had previously used Facebook to express her concerns with Australia’s punitive treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and feels that through Buddies she is able to contribute in a much more concrete way.
    Says Maree “Where any of us land in life is a complete accident of birth. I look forward to contributing as a Director for Buddies to continue to walk my talk.”

DIRECTORS: We urgently require one or two ‘new’ Directors. If you are interested in the roles and responsibilities of being a Director, they are summarised here. 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.

Email the PM: Permanent visas NOW

The Albanese government has promised to restore permanent protection and create an independent tribunal that can review refugee decisions in a fair way. But even these welcome changes will leave thousands of people failed by Morrison’s rigged system living in fear of being torn from our communities and forced into danger.
    The 31.000 people denied protection under Morrison’s rigged “Fast Track” system and those still living with Temporary Protection or Safe Haven Enterprise Visas need permanence now.


First Dog on the Moon on Australian immigration and asylum

Australia loves prisons! Just ask the 1,400 people locked up in immigration detention...


Report: Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) National Conference, Blue Mountains, September 2022

It was everything that a National Conference should be, inspiring, motivating and an amazing networking opportunity. For me, Rob Kann, it was a great chance to represent our region, and my groups; Welcome to Maleny and SCRAN.
    I had the privilege of co-presenting a workshop at the conference – Networking to change Hearts and Minds. It centred around SCRAN’s Community Art Project – ‘The Sunshine Coast Welcomes Refugees’ – that Buddies also participated in. The project was a great success on many levels, from a networking point of view...
Pictured: Rob Kann (left) and Muzafar Ali, film-maker and co-founder of Cisarua Learning (Indonesian Refugee Schools)



Refugee Council of Australia
RCOA has welcomed the Albanese Government’s increased investment in the Adult Migrant English Program, faster visa processing and support for temporary entrants from Ukraine, amongst other initiatives. However these were dwarfed by a $150 million increase in funding for the Government’s offshore processing regime. Since 2012-13, successive governments have spent $11.654 billion on offshore detention and processing arrangements.

VIDEO: I escaped from an illegal refugee prison. What I learned could help you | Jaivet Ealom | TEDxToronto
Jaivet Ealom, a refugee activist and author born in Myanmar and now living in Canada, is the only person to ever escape Australia’s notorious offshore detention center on Manus Island. In this talk, Jaivet shares his story and offers suggestions for the most powerful acts that we can take as individuals to face off against systems of oppression.


October minutes and finance report

The minutes of the general meeting held on 23 October 2022 can be read HERE. The financial report for October can be read HERE.

The Bulletin takes annual leave!

There will be no  Bulletin in December so today's Bulletin will be the last for 2022. The next Bulletin will come out on Friday 13 January. Happy holiday season to all our readers.

Refugee issues and the Budget

The Albanese government’s first federal budget committed new funds to speed up visa processing, support people fleeing the war in Ukraine, improve English language programs, expand Pacific labour schemes, and review Australia’s multicultural policy settings.
    The new government noted its ongoing commitment to offshore processing, which will cost more than $632 million this financial year. Money was also budgeted to establish a network of Australian Border Force officers across the Pacific.
    This budget was an update to the budget announced in March, reflecting the change in government in May. It served to embed some key Labor election promises in the nation’s balance sheet and to cut previously allocated spending now deemed wasteful.

‘Appalling’ spend on offshore processing


The new corporate face of cruelty on Nauru

Refugee advocates are dismayed that Labor has allocated an extra $150m for offshore processing. Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ first budget saw offshore processing funding jump to $632.5m, a move that’s been labelled “deeply disappointing”.
    RCOA chief executive Paul Power said it took the country’s total offshore processing spend to nearly $12b since the centres were reopened in 2012.
    “We are appalled to see yet again that the funds allocated to positive changes in immigration and refugee programs are overshadowed by the increased allocation to the Australian government’s offshore processing policy,” he said.
US prison company Management and Training Corporation (MTC) has signed a deal with the federal Labor government to take over the running of Australia’s refugee prison on Nauru. The company will be awarded $47.3 million to oversee the detention of 111 refugees over a two-month period. At a time when the ALP government is telling us all to tighten our belts, it will be spending $425,000 for each refugee to be detained for two months for the “crime” of seeking safety in another country.
     MTC is the third largest private prison operator in the US and has a history of negligence and human rights violations within its facilities.

Protests demand Australia grant visas to 1000s of asylum-seekers

Some 1,500 people rallied in Canberra in September, demanding the Labor Party government carry out its promise to grant permanent visas to thousands of asylum-seekers.
    Thirty thousand refugees live in Australia on various temporary visas, which block their ability to work, study or reunite with family. More than 19,000 are on “temporary protection” or “safe haven enterprise” visas, which the government has promised to end. Another 10,000, whose cases the government doesn’t plan to review, have been refused permanent residency and live under continual threat of deportation.
    Since its election in May, the Labor government has continued to “turn back” refugee boats headed to Australia, many of them from crisis-ridden Sri Lanka.

‘A state of disrepair’: Home affairs minister slams immigration system


Refugee shares how he used tricks from Prison Break to escape detention centre

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has declared Australia’s migration system is broken and is being exploited by overseas criminals, and has flagged an independent inquiry to examine revelations of widespread visa rorting linked to sex trafficking, foreign worker exploitation and drug crime.
    In her strongest comments yet about the failings in the system, O’Neil blamed her predecessor, Liberal Peter Dutton, and revealed she had received expert advice that “tens of thousands of people” might be unlawfully in Australia, including many who are exploited foreign workers.
It’s a refugee story like no other.
    Inspired by the TV show Prison Break, Jaivet Ealom meticulously planned his escape from an offshore holding site in Australia and spent six months crossing seven countries and three continents without a passport before finding refuge in Canada.
    Though it may sound like fiction, Ealom’s memoir is called Escape From Manus Prison: One Man’s Daring Quest for Freedom. His new home is in Toronto where he works at NeedsList, a company that promotes the use of technology to help displaced people bypass institutional barriers.

Former Socceroo / human rights activist Craig Foster named NSW Australian of the Year

Human rights campaigner Craig Foster has been selected as the New South Wales nominee for Australian of the Year. The award will be announced on 25 January in Canberra.
     Foster is recognised for his advocacy for asylum seekers and multiculturalism, and was touted as the next Australian of the Year in 2019 after he helped to secure the release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. The high-profile SBS broadcaster drew on his network of past and current players, sports journalists and politicians to lobby for al-Araibi’s release after he was arrested in Thailand and threatened with extradition to Bahrain.
   A palliative care pioneer, young sustainability champion and Turbans 4 Australia founder are also winners of the NSW awards.
Thank you to Clare Arico, Rob Kann, Maree Keating, Lynda Utting and Diana Woolley for their contributions to this edition.
DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS: The next Bulletin will be out on Friday 13 January 2023.
Deadline for items is 5pm, Wednesday 11 January.
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.




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

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