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Buddies Refugee Support Group
Mehdi in Minneapolis, USA, where he was resettled earlier this year
THE GUARDIAN, 12 APRIL 2022
"THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has been releasing refugees from its onshore detention over the past month, ending several years of detention for many, in a move shrouded in secrecy. How that some refugees have been detained long enough, while others even more vulnerable remain prisoners offshore?
    "Undoubtedly, any decision that leads to the release of imprisoned asylum seekers is commendable, but there are things to consider about the government’s actions that I hope will be taken into account.
    "It is not possible for me to know the intentions of the government’s decision, but the release of refugees inside the country without paying attention to those imprisoned offshore, who are facing the most difficult conditions, suggests the decision is at least in part motivated by the election, rather than human rights."
After 9 years in Australian detention, Iranian cousins Mehdi Ali and Adnan Choopani were resettled in the US in March. They are among the last to be resettled as part of the US-Australia resettlement deal.
COMING EVENTS
SATUFDAY 21 MAY
2022 FEDERAL ELECTION
Where do our politicians stand regarding refugee issues?
To view the chart comparing the policies of the three major parties, CLICK HERE.
Further Information from the Refugee Council if Australia: The RCOA briefing provides a more detailed overview of the public positions on refugee issues of the three parties.
 
SUNDAY 5 JUNE, FROM 8AM
ROMERO CENTRE WELCOME WALK
Starting at Davies Park, West End, Brisbane
The aim of the Welcome Walk is to bring attention to the thousands of long, exhausting, and dangerous journeys of people who have had to flee wars, persecution, or civil conflicts to seek safety and protection in Australia. Walk with us, for 3 or 6kms, to show that people seeking asylum are not walking alone.
SATURDAY 18 JUNE
2022 REFUGEE WEEK EXHIBITION OPENING NIGHT
'THE NEED FOR GLOBAL HEALING'
Sonder Studio Gallery, Cooroy
Gabby Sutherland

An exhibition of prints of refugee artists’ artworks from around the world. The project is explained in the invitation letter HERE.
   Artists from a refugee background are invited to participate – the application form is available HERE. The project also includes a fundraising campaign (see HERE)
SUNDAY 19–SATURDAY 25 JUNE, 2022
2022 Refugee Week
Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. The theme of Refugee Week for 2022 is Healing, providing a common, cohesive message which can be promoted across the country, helping to maximise the effectiveness of awareness-raising activities.
SUNDAY 26 JUNE, 11AM
NEXT BUDDIES BI-MONTHLY MEETING
Venue to be advised
Due to factors entirely beyond our control, Rebecca Lim, our guest speaker for April, could not come!  So for all those Buddies folk who were themselves not able to come, you will now get another opportunity – as Rebecca has agreed to be guest speaker at our next scheduled meeting
    This meeting is especially good news for all those who came to the last meeting (expecting to see Rebecca).
    At this meeting, she will be promoting her recently launched book: Does Australia Love its Neighbour? and there will be copies of the book for sale – $25 (cash or direct credit transactions only).
To purchase a copy online:
DOWNLOAD THE ORDER FORM
18-23 SEPTEMBER
LEARN ENGLISH HOLIDAY –  HOMESTAY HOSTS NEEDED
Matthew Flinders College, Buderim
Plans have started for the next LEH for the first week of school holidays. We will need volunteer homestay hosts for families from Afghanistan, Tibet, Somalia and Congo.
    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 buddiesleh@gmail.com or phone Kayla on 0427 380 235 for Homestays or Lesley on 0427 351 797 for the Education Program.
Now that I’ve been out and free, it’s more and more clear that the Australian detention system is built on lies, rumours, fear and secrets to treat innocent people with cruelty.
–  Mehdi Ali, ex-detainee and US resident, on Twitter
 

Call Karen Andrews and demand freedom for refugees

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Since December 2020, community pressure has helped more than 270 refugees win their freedom. But around five people remain indefinitely detained, more than two years after being brought here for medical treatment.
    There’s a simple solution. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews can free refugees with one signature.
    Take Action Now: Call Karen Andrews. Demand that she use her discretionary powers to give ALL the Medevac refugees their freedom. 

MAKE THE CALL

SCRAN Refugee Week Community Project

Your group/organisation/business/school is invited to decorate a giant letter that will form part of a public message to welcome refugees.

To find out more, email SCRAN.

A brilliant and well deserved achievement

Asylum Seekers Centre NSW
Congratulations Moz Azimi for becoming a finalist in the 2022 Archibald Prize, with a self-portrait painted with toothbrushes, coffee and acrylic paints.
The winner will be announced today (Friday 13 May)

"For 8 years in detention I was a number,
For 8 years I was called KNS088."

Compass: Sister Brigid, the nun in the cage

ABC iView
Sister Brigid Arthur is an Australian Brigidine sister, educator, refugee advocate and activist on social issues. At 87 she still works closely with refugees and is acting as litigation guardian for eight teenagers seeking to block a coal mine expansion. We unpack Sister Brigid's long activism and explore her motivation.

ASRC Annual report 2021

Founded in 2001, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is Australia’s largest human rights organisation, providing support to people seeking asylum. The Centre is an independent not-for-profit organisation whose programs support and empower people seeking asylum to maximise their own physical, mental and social wellbeing.

Read the Annual Report HERE.

Minutes and finance report

The minutes of the April meeting can be viewed HERE.
The finance report for April can be viewed HERE.

Feel like imbibing some fine wine? Don't forget Goodwill Wines

Great wine delivered directly to your door and if you nominate Buddies as your Charity of Choice, 50% of the profits goes to Buddies. It’s a win-win situation.

Go to goodwillwine.com.au

Abul Rivzi: If I were the Minister for Immigration policy in the next parliament

PEARLS AND IRRITATIONS, 11 MAY
"A new Parliament, and possibly a new Government, offers an opportunity for policy renewal, including in immigration policy.
    "Beyond its border protection mantra, over the last nine years the Coalition has implemented a hotch potch of immigration policy changes that offer little in the way of long-term coherence. The changes have been mainly to satisfy various pressure groups or perceived political advantage.
    "Whatever we may think of those policies, at least two of them – turnbacks and offshore processing – now have bi-partisan support from the two major parties. The key policy difference in terms of boat arrivals now appears to be that the ALP does not support TPVs, which should mean that the legacy boat caseload can be either re-settled in a third country or offered permanent residence in Australia if there is an ALP Government."
Abul Rizvi PhD was a senior official in the Department of Immigration from the early 1990s to 2007 when he left as Deputy Secretary. He was awarded the Public Service Medal and the Centenary Medal for services to development and implementation of immigration policy.

Morrison makes asylum  policy new battlefield in election campaign

SBS NEWS, 18 APRIL
 

What motivated the release of refugees? The possibility of an election loss...

CHRIS SIMPSON, 4 APRIL
 
The prime minister has sought to revive a contest between the Coalition and Labor over border security, by attacking the Opposition’s plan to abolish temporary protection visas for asylum seekers.
    Mr Morrison recently singled out the policy as he criticised the Opposition’s approach to border security in an attempt to place the issue at the forefront of the campaign.
    Labor has long opposed temporary protection visas aimed at denying permanent resettlement – claiming they are an expensive, bureaucratic and unnecessary process.
    Temporary protection visas have a complex history in Australia – reintroduced by the Coalition in late 2013 after being abolished by then Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd in August 2008.
 
 Imagine being incarcerated for nine years for nothing more than seeking a better life. Or being locked up at 24 years of age and finally released at 33; a federal election is looming and you will not have the right to vote!
    In half this time you could have completed a trade, a degree, gone on to start your own business. Instead, incarceration gave this government the chance to laud its tough stance on border protection and you remained detained – detained for arriving by boat to Australia; the Lucky Country.
    You will have spent six years in offshore detention in Nauru before being transferred to Australia in 2020 for medical treatment...
... Whether the impending election sees the LNP government lose office or not, the greater loss is to this 33-year-old man who will never get those 9 years back.
 

Finally free, Amin is too sick to work and struggles to eat even one meal a day

ABC NEWS, 22 APRIL
Amin Afravi has been waiting to get out of Australia’s detention system for almost a decade. He is one of 55 people released from immigration detention this year with no explanation from the Federal Government about what prompted the move.
    He has stomach and skin problems and has lost 24 kilograms. He says he is seeking medical help and is too weak to work.
    By the time the 32-year-old refugee was unexpectedly released in April, he was emotionally numb. “If you have a right and it has been taken away for a long time, when you get it back, you won’t have any feeling for it,” Mr Afravi said.
    “There is no word to explain detention. It’s terrible. As much as you can think, it’s terrible. Even someone in prison has a time limit."
    He is on a six-month bridging visa and is considered a “transitory person” by the Federal Government.

Prioritising Ukrainians for resettlement – how do refugees here feel about it?

SBS NEWS, 11 APRIL
 

Copycat cruelty, the Australian solution – Britain to send refugees to Rwanda

PEARLS AND IRRITATIONS, 20 APRIL
 
Australia’s offer of safe haven for Ukrainians has been welcomed by refugee communities already here, but some believe priority should be given to all who seek asylum, no matter which conflict they’re fleeing.
    The Australian Government in March announced it would prioritise the processing of visa applications from Ukraine, a stance that remains in place. As of the first week of April, more than 1,700 of these visa holders had arrived in Australia. They will be offered a three-year temporary humanitarian visa with access to Medicare and the ability to work and study.
    SBS Pashto Producer Abdullah Alikhil, an Afghani, said “In comparison (between Afghanistan and Ukraine wars), I say it’s the same, politically it might be different, but war is war and civilians are suffering.”
 
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to deport asylum-seekers to another country thousands of miles away will “only lead to more human suffering, chaos, and at huge expense to the UK,” according to refugee advocates.
    The UK’s announcement that some asylum seekers will be given one-way plane tickets to Rwanda was swiftly and forcefully denounced, with one expert calling right-wing PM Johnson’s ploy to offshore migrants “unethical, immoral, ineffective, costly, and very likely unlawful.”
    “Anyone entering the U.K. illegally… may now be relocated to Rwanda,” Johnson said. He asserted that the policy is intended to stop “vile people-smugglers [who] are abusing the vulnerable and turning the [English] Channel into a watery graveyard.”
 

Biloela’s family inspires art exhibition as town’s residents take views to the ballot box

ABC CAPRICORNIA, 8 MAY
The plight of the Murugappan family has been thrust back into the spotlight during the election campaign.
    Anthony Albanese used a recent appearance on Q&A to reiterate Labor’s call for the family’s return to the town, while Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce said earlier he was in negotiations with other parts of his government lobbying to get the family home.
    But what is the mood on the ground in Biloela, and is the family’s plight expected to sway votes in its regional seat of Flynn, where the town is located?
    Campaigner Bronwyn Dendle said the family’s plight was a political issue. “I have a lot of politically conservative friends who have come along and supported rallies we’ve had locally… but it’s hard because it’s one of many issues in politics,” she said.
Sydney-based artist Thy Mai’s painting of the family is housed at the Banana Shire Art Gallery.
Thank you to Gillian Duffy, Penny Rivlin, Gabby Sutherland, Kayla Szumer, Lynda Utting and Diana Woolley for their contributions to this edition.
BUDDIES BULLETIN – EDITORIAL POLICY
DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS: 5pm second Wednesday of the month. Next Bulletin 13 May
Please send contributions for the newsletter to the editor. 

EDITOR / PRODUCTION: Wendy Oakley
WEBSITE: Wendy Oakley

FACEBOOK – SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER: Sam McGill
ABOUT BUDDIES REFUGEE SUPPORT GROUP
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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