EIGHT INDIVIDUALS and a family group of two have been approved by the Canadian Government to resettle in Vancouver and Toronto, thanks to an impressive collective effort of donors, volunteers and organisations in Australia and Canada. They are the first approvals for refugees being sponsored by the Operation #NotForgotten partnership.
For the past two years, RCOA has been working with Vancouver-based migrant and refugee settlement service MOSAIC and volunteer network Ads Up Canada. Australians have donated $3.26 million through RCOA while MOSAIC and Ads Up Canada have worked together to lodge sponsorship applications and to organise volunteer settlement teams ready to support refugees after arrival.
Since November 2019 applications for 150 refugees and 96 separated family members have been lodged through Operation #NotForgotten but the Canadian Government’s assessment process has been delayed by COVID-19.
"The generosity of the Canadian Government and the donors and volunteers in Australia and Canada is in stark contrast to the actions of successive Australian governments."
– Paul Power, CEO, Refugee Council of Australia
SATURDAY 13 NOVEMBER
‘Scattered People’ film screening
3pm, Electrical Trades Union Building,
41 Peel Street, South Brisbane
Followed by an informal discussion & refreshments. About the film: Through the eyes and hearts of two Iranian musicians, Scattered People is a story about the healing power of music, bringing together people, cultures and countries while exploring Australians’ attitudes towards people seeking asylum. Scattered People is about the power of music to create change and restore hope...
11:30am, Cotton Tree Park, Maroochydore (look for the BUDDIES flags)
BYO picnic goodies & chairs. Bring a plate to share.
(There are BBQs there for those who wish to use them).
Come join in the fun & games – and meet some new folk.
Have you noticed the people who don’t want to help refugees because we “have our own poor” also don’t want to help our own poor?
– Mohamad Safa, human rights and environmental activist, on Twitter
Meet new Buddies Director Robin Jones
At our meeting on Sunday, Dr Robin Jones stepped up to be one of our Directors. Great news!
Robin’s work has been three-fold: settlement work within Australia, overseas work in camps and related activities and advocacy work through various organisations and the media. In 2018 Robin received an AM for support for refugees, social welfare organisations and education.
However we’re still looking for another Director to ideally spread the load. Directors are responsible for managing and directing the activities of Buddies. They meet once a month and the role is not onerous. For more information: Len 0419 664 524, or Lynda 0416 878 431.
Buddies is either 20 or 21 years old in 2022. Hopefully, we will be celebrating our anniversary and our written history would be an essential part of that celebration.
There are still enough original or long serving members around for the oral history to be recorded. There are also minutes, Bulletins, Facebook, our website and annual reports available to use as resources.
If anyone, either an individual or a group, is interested in writing the history of Buddies please contact us.
To retiring Directors Paul Mckinlay and Gaynore Stoessel. Paul has been a director for four years (two as Chairperson). Gaynore has been a director and secretary for a year; she continues as our very competent secretary.
To Robin Jones who has stepped up to be our new director – Robin’s knowledge, experience and kindness will contribute so much to our common cause. And to Len Mangan who takes over the role of Chairperson.
To David Walters for his outstanding voluntary work throughout 2021. David is one of the most reliable and longstanding parking marshals at the Eumundi market. He also opened his home for 7 months to provide accommodation for an asylum seeker.
Our recent guest speaker Freddie Steen
At our recent meeting Freddie gave a great talk and asked us to write to our MPs and Qld Senators and the papers, as well as speak to friends about upping the refugee intake for Afghans.
She also sent some photos – her car was packed to the brim with donations to take back to the Indooroopilly UC refugee support group (click on the image to enlarge). Thanks to all who donated.
Gives insight into critical issues of racial discrimination in Australia, featuring the lived experience of refugees and asylum seekers. The six episodes, to be released on Amazon Prime, tell stories including experiences of Islamophobia through intimate interviews, blended with animation, archive footage and infographics...
100% of net proceeds from every sale help to fund the ASRC’s programs.
The new range of items also includes a collection by Ethiopian-born Melbourne artist Olana Janfa, featuring an original artwork that represents the journey of seeking safety in a new country. The Olana x ASRC collection is the Centre's first refugee artist collaboration and it is our privilege to partner with such a talented artist and amplify his work...
Escaping from Taliban persecution in Afghanistan, Abbas Nazari’s family ended up on a small fishing boat with 426 others, then mercifully rescued by a Norwegian cargo boat, the Tampa.
It’s now 20 years since this happened and Abbas tells his story, from the Taliban’s horrendous rule in Afghanistan, to his family’s desperate search for safety, to how this became an international political hot issue, to settling and growing up in far-off New Zealand...
Seven videos guaranteed to change the way you see refugees
A powerful tool to help an audience understand a situation is to re-frame it in a familiar context. And film has proven to be one of the most effective methods to create a sense of empathy and compassion.
The videos here all have one aim: to raise awareness for the refugee cause with a new perspective. They will force you to imagine what the Syria Crisis would look like in New York City or London, to see what a year of conflict could do to a child, but most importantly to recognize refugees as ordinary people...
The minutes from the meeting held on 31 October can be viewed HERE.
The finance report for October can be viewed HERE.
The Bulletin takes a break
The Bulletin will be taking a break in December, so next week’s Bulletin will be the final for 2021. The first Bulletin for 2022 will come out on 7 January.
Wishing a great holiday season to all our readers!
‘Time can break your heart’: the harsh toll of eight years in immigration detention
THE GUARDIAN, 1 NOVEMBER
COUSINS ADNAN CHOOPANI and Mehdi from Iran were children when they arrived seeking sanctuary. They describe the despair of their ongoing confinement, seeing some friends freed and others die
“Time can bring you down,” Adnan Choopani sings, “time can bend your knees”. They have watched friends burn themselves to death and known the despair that has led them to attempt suicide themselves.
They have been beaten and abused, and jailed without reason. And despite their claims for protection being formally recognised more than half a decade ago, they remain in detention.
Cost of Australia holding each refugee on Nauru balloons to $4.3m a year
THE GUARDIAN, 7 NOVEMBER
Parisa is one of thousands of evacuees slowly making new lives in Melbourne
ABC NEWS, 9 NOVEMBER
AUSTRALIA'S OFFSHORE processing facility on Nauru holds a dwindling number of refugees and asylum seekers – all of them single men. The cost to Australian taxpayers to hold a single refugee there has escalated tenfold to more than $350,000 every month.
Australia currently pays about $40m a month to run its processing regime on Nauru, an amount almost identical to 2016 when there were nearly 10 times as many people held on the island.
No refugees and asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru since 2014, and numbers of refugees held there have dwindled – through resettlement to the US, transfer to Australia for acute medical care, abandonment of a protection claim, or death.
NEARLY THREE months after fleeing Afghanistan through Kabul’s besieged Hamid Karzai airport, Parisa is slowly making a new life for herself in Australia.The university scholar made the heartbreaking decision to leave her parents and life in Afghanistan as the Taliban took control.
“I lost everything I had. Everything I achieved and fought for,” Parisa said. “It was really hard for me to accept that I would not have any career after [the Taliban takeover].
Parisa spent several days pushing first to get through the airport’s gates and then onto an evacuation flight. “The Taliban were hitting people. They are firing and, you know, the children crying there because they were really afraid,” she said.
Medical response to death of Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali on Nauru ‘inferior’
ABC NEWS, 1 NOVEMBER
QUEENSLAND'S STATE coroner has found the medical response in Nauru to an Iranian refugee who set himself on fire was “inferior” and “inadequate” due to limited skills, equipment and facilities, but his evacuation to Australia could not have happened any faster.
Omid Masoumali self-harmed after becoming angry over an argument his wife had with UNHCR over living conditions. He had sought help from a psychologist a day before the incident.
In 2019 an inquest examined the circumstances surrounding his death – he died of organ failure in a Brisbane hospital two days after suffering significant burns.
The coroner said clinicians who treated him initially had been “heroic” and they did the “best they could” but did not have the capabilities to deal with such serious injuries.
In Australia, a new law allows refugees to be held in detention indefinitely
THE BIG SMOKE, 12 OCTOBER
Asylum seekers feared that SIEV-X would sink, a court has heard
SBS NEWS, 4 NOVEMBER
IN MAY the government rushed through legislation that allows Australia to keep refugees in detention centres for the rest of their lives. The legislation was one of the first laws passed under new Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews. The Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Bill 2021 targets refugees in immigration detention who cannot return to their home countries because of a risk of persecution or serious harm.
The legislation notionally provides protections against sending people to harm, but it also gives the Minister a new power to overturn refugee status. This is a breach of international law and contains no mechanism to prevent the indefinite detention of those who cannot be returned.
PEOPLE WHO had paid to be smuggled to Australia refused to leave, fearing a boat would never make the journey, a court has been told. But others embarked on the expedition, some even threatening the captain of the vessel that became known as SIEV-X, warning him to continue, witnesses have told a Brisbane magistrate.
The testimony was heard in the committal hearing of Iraqi national Maythem Kamil Radhi, who is accused of involvement in a syndicate that attempted to smuggle 421 people on an overcrowded and dilapidated vessel in 2001. Radhi, 45, is not charged over the deaths, but faces one count of bringing groups of non-citizens into Australia.
The attempt ended with 353 people drowning, 146 of them children.
Federal Government prevents medical community from assisting refugees in detention
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA, 4 NOVEMBER
WATCHING THE COVID-19 outbreak unfold in the Park hotel, Melbourne, it is hard not to feel disillusionment as a medical professional. As at 4 November, almost half of the refugees detained at the hotel had been confirmed as positive COVID-19 cases, and the inability of the Australian Border Force and contracted companies like Serco to effectively manage and respond to the medical needs of those in immigration detention is clear.
Delays in establishing infection control procedures, testing those with COVID-19 symptoms and in vaccine administration (practices that are relatively routine in other healthcare settings) have resulted in an avoidable and catastrophic outbreak that will have a multitude of health-related consequences for the vulnerable individuals affected.
Thank you to Clare Arico, Len Mangan, Margaret Norris, Penny Rivlin, Lynda Utting and Diana Woolleyfor their contributions to this edition.
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.