Buddies Refugee Support Group
'Every day a struggle and suffering'
A bill which proposed to transfer detainess from PNG and Nauru to Australia has been defeated in parliament this week.
In submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into the Evacuation to Safety Bill which was defeated this week, refugees on Nauru and PNG have told the government “every day is a struggle and suffering”.
The inquiry into the bill was tabled by Greens senator Nick McKim. Of more than 60 submissions to the inquiry, only one opposed the bill – a submission from Home Affairs. The legislation proposed moving refugees and asylum seekers currently held offshore by Australia to the  mainland.
    Mohammad, a Hazara refugee currently in PNG said: “My hopes were to be with family, find work, stand on my own feet, feel independent and feel like a human.”
    Rajah, a Tamil refugee held on Nauru who suffers from an acute kidney condition, told the inquiry he requires “both mental health and physical health care,” he said.
    “We are separated from our children, siblings and parents… if we have done anything wrong, tell us.”
There are currently 66 refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, and 92 people still held in PNG – mostly in Port Moresby. They are not in detention, but live in impoverished and often dangerous circumstances.
10-15 APRIL 2023

Living in Australia Program (LAP)
– homestay hosts needed

Immanuel College, Buderim
Plans have started for the next LAP (previously Learn English Holiday) for the first week of school holidays. We will need volunteer homestay hosts for families from a number of different countries.
    If you think you may be able to volunteer as a Homestay Host, a driver, or a support person in the Education Program, please reply to or phone Kayla on 0427 380 235 for Homestays or Lesley on 0427 351 797 for the Education Program.


Theme for 2023: Finding Freedom – what freedom means to the individual

This year's theme was developed through a public vote involving members of diverse refugee communities. Refugee Week is an initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia.
The Greens tried to work within Labor policy to evacuate people from offshore detention. But they were too gutless to vote for it, and instead sided with the Liberal Party to keep people locked up.
–  Nick McKim, Greens Senator, on Twitter

Sunshine Coast Refugee Friendship Group

Lynette and Andrew Merry
At our recent general meeting in February, our guest speakers Andrew and Lynette Merry, coordinators of this recently formed Community Refugees Integration and Settlement Program (CRISP) group – spoke about the family they had been allocated, a large family of eight from the DR Congo who’ll be arriving here later this month.
    The family will have many, many needs to begin with – the most urgent are listed below.
     If you are can help with any of these items, please contact Lynette directly and she will advise how best to collect/drop-off the item(s).
Lynette mob: 0412 857 126  email:
ITEMS REQUIRED: Full time rental property from September • Freezer  • 5 single bed mattress protectors, waterproof • 3 school backpacks • soccer balls (not lots of toys please, we have enough) • bike helmets • bean bags • sharp knife set • set of glasses x2 • large Induction pot (the house we have for 5 months has induction cooking) • vacuum cleaner • bucket, mop, general cleaning equipment • double bed sheets, doona, cover and mattress protector (our donated bunks have a double on the bottom)
Does anyone grow cassava? If so we would love a supply of the leaves.

More about the group

A thorough resume describing the CRISP program and the Refugee Friendship Group taken from the recent meeting minutes is attached HERE.

Welcome back, new Directors!

Three of our previous directors have rejoined the Buddies Board in 2023
Prior to her retirement, Lesley Willcoxson worked in the areas of education, cross-cultural training, and welfare work. Since retirement she has been co-ordinator of the Buddies Living in Australia Program and was a Board member 2017-2019 – and she is also a surf lifesaver at Sunshine Beach.
     A brief stint many years ago volunteering to assist TPV applicants opened Paul McKinlay’s eyes to the plight of refugees and people seeking asylum. He joined Buddies in 2016 and became a director in 2018, stepped down in 2021, and “somehow ended up stepping up again in 2023!”
     Scott Grimmett has been a member of Buddies since about 2012 and has experience in volunteering with incorporated associations since 1993 in secretary and treasurer roles. He currently works for two different incorporated associations and joined Buddies because he got tired of shouting at the television news!

An interview with Paul McKinlay

'Hospitality, Advocacy, Education: Buddies looks back on 20 years'

Rural Australians for Refugees
RAR national committee member Kat Vella chatted with Paul McKinlay from Buddies on the challenges they have faced, the achievements they have made, and the changes they have experienced advocating for refugees and people seeking asylum.

Read the interview with Paul

Minutes and finance report

The minutes from the meeting held on Sunday 26 February are attached HERE.
The finance report for February is attached HERE.

Offshore asylum seekers ‘victims of our collective political failure’ as evacuation bill defeated

The Evacuation to Safety bill, introduced by the Greens senator Nick McKim, has been defeated in the Senate this week by 24 votes to 12, with the Greens, David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe in favour and the Coalition, Labor and One Nation opposed.
    The bill proposed moving refugees and asylum seekers held offshore to Australia while they await resettlement in a third country, likely New Zealand or the US. All those moved to Australia would be required to pass an ASIO security assessment.
    Late on Tuesday, the government-controlled legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee said offshore detention was damaging and “cannot be allowed to continue”, but said the bill could not be supported.

Permanent residency for TPV holders: Home Affairs

The Albanese Government is delivering on its election commitment to provide a permanent visa pathway for existing Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders, who have been kept in a state of limbo for the last decade. However Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said the commitment only applied to persons who entered Australia prior to the commencement of Operation Sovereign Borders.

'Over the moon': Perth family of Down syndrome boy granted permanent residency after minister intervenes

SBS News, 8 March
A Perth family facing deportation has been granted permanent residency after a personal intervention from Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, a week before the family had been ordered to leave Australia.
    The family, Krishna Aneesh and Aneesh Kollikkara and their two children from India, were told last month they had just 35 days to leave the country because their 10-year-old Aaryan's condition meant he was deemed a burden on the taxpayer.

Behrouz brings new life to an ancient play

ABC NEWS, 5 March
Behrouz Boochani had to revisit his time in detention in order to write poems for the adaptation of Women of Troy, a tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides, produced in 415 BC. The production is working to raise money and awareness of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
     The nearly seven years he spent detained on Manus Island are not easy memories. But revisiting his refugee journey was essential in order to write the series of poems for a new adaptation, currently being staged at an arts festival in Tasmania.
     “For this work, I really didn’t want to particularly write about refugees who come to Australia but of course, I couldn’t get away from my experience as someone who got in a boat and went to Australia,” Boochani said.

Rocking the boat

Recently the Albanese government fulfilled its election commitment to end the legal purgatory of TPVs for around 19,000 asylum seekers. Thousands still languish in limbo and in offshore detention, but it was nonetheless brave of Labor to do what it did, knowing that it would likely be leapt upon by a hostile, opportunistic Opposition. The Coalition and Murdoch media have played this exactly as you would expect, wringing their hands about how this will encourage people smugglers...

Families and friends split as twist of fate determines asylum seekers’ future

A twist of fate has left asylum seekers who have travelled to Australia on the same boat facing utterly different futures.
    It is a familiar story for those on bridging visas. The passenger sitting next to them on a crowded boat bound for Australia now has a pathway to permanent residency while they have to apply for a new visa every six months.
    Hundreds of asylum seekers rallied out the front of Parliament House this week, calling out what they see as an inconsistent approach that prolongs uncertainty.
Thank you to Kayla Szumer, Lynda Utting and Diana Woolley for their contributions to this edition.
DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS: The next Bulletin will be out on Friday 14 April 2023.
Deadline for items is 5pm, Wednesday 12 April.
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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