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L4R newsletter - keeping you informed and up to date on our current issues and challenges.
Labor for Refugees New South Wales

9 June 2020

 

Dear <<First Name>>

 

Notice for L4R Zoom meeting on 25 June at 6pm

 

Please join us via Zoom for our next monthly June meeting. It will take place on Thursday 25 June commencing at 6pm.

The link to our meeting will be included in a reminder which will be sent in the week prior to our meeting.
 
We welcome your participation and are happy that using Zoom, will give those members living outside the metropolitan area, particularly in regional New South Wales, an opportunity to join us.

 

The link to the Minutes of our last meeting of the 26 February 2020 follows L4RNSWMin26Feb20

Please print a copy to use for our June meeting.

 

Zoom Event with Kristina Keneally - Report

Our Zoom Q&A event with Senator Kristina Keneally, What is Labor Doing? which took place last week, was a great success.  We had over 100 participants and many probing questions for Kristina. Over 60 questions were submitted but many overlapped.  We managed to reduce them to a manageable number for the event, but even so, we ran a little over time, leaving no time to include a chat session or more questions at the end.

A recording of the event can be found at:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/jta0pc08bp2517a/zoom_0.mp4?dl=0

When you view this video recording, you may notice that there is no introduction.  Unfortunately, my introduction and the follow up acknowledgement of country was accidentally omitted from the recording.  The acknowledgement therefore follows:

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Many of the questions centred around what could be done to assist those suffering as a result of government policies.

Kristina expressed her willingness to help and said she was collecting stories which will assist her in making representations to the Minister or to put Questions on Notice to Parliament. She urged those who were aware of an individual’s circumstances where that person on a TPV (Temporary Protection Visa) or on a SHEV (Safe Haven Enterprise Visa) was experiencing hardship or someone who is detained in an APOD (Alternative Place of Detention), or separated from family, or destitute, to contact her office with the details at senator.keneally@aph.gov.au

The questions over the course of the evening dealt with Immigration Detention and Covid-19; Temporary Migrant Support; SRSS payments; the Prohibiting Items Bill – banning mobile phones from Detention; the family from Biloela; offshore detention; Medevac and other more general issues.

Our thanks go to Senator Keneally and to those of you who took part in our event.        


Kaldor Centre Webinar
A few L4R members participated in the COVID-19 and International Refugee Law Kaldor Centre Webinar on 4 June 2020 which was co-hosted by the International Law Association (Australia).
 
Labor for Refugees NSW Assistant Secretary Cath Crittenden summarised the evening’s event as follows.
 
Jane McAdam, Director, UNSW Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law and Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, spoke about the effects of the pandemic on refugees and people seeking asylum around the world and answered questions from the 150+ participants. The main theme was that the pandemic had made life even harder and more challenging, with only occasional bright spots. Some governments were using the cover of Covid-19 to introduce more restrictive policies (eg banning visitors, including lawyers, from detention centres).
 
Some points from the webinar:

  • The Kaldor Centre has established COVID-19 Watch, a blog through which we can learn from others around the world. Links to articles in COVID-19 Watch are given in the Centre’s excellent regular newsletter. For example, one article covers Refugees Rise, a movement which is refugee-led looking at how to improve protection post-covid.

  • A group of international lawyers has put together 14 guiding Principles of Protection to inform governments post-covid. These Principles can be found at: https://zolberginstitute.org/covid-19/#Human%20Rights%20Document

  • Climate change is a crisis in slow motion, the pandemic giving us a glimpse of the global climate emergency.

  • There was some optimism in 2019 when the Global Compact on Refugees was signed (Australia is a signatory). The Compact recognises the interconnected and global environment and includes mechanisms to address the massive challenge of displaced people. On the other hand, there is an emphasis on ‘burden’ sharing and this negative aspect is compounded by some governments externalising people seeking asylum (eg paying money to poorer countries to take them, rather than accepting responsibility themselves).

  • The pandemic intervened halting resettlement and increasing the risk of refoulement and of drowning (Rohingya people). In addition to the risk of infection, the socio-economic impact is great, as is the increased risk of sexual violence in confined quarters.

  • Poorer countries house most of the world’s refugees. If the virus took hold say in Africa, there are only four ventilators there.

  • The bright spots are: 1) the UNHCR upscaling internet-based technology, providing mobile phones, for example, in Mali to help educate and inform, and involve people.  2) Portugal has extended temporary visa rights for those seeking asylum to cover the period of the pandemic. (As an aside, an Australian student in Portugal reported that she had been provided with financial support during the pandemic).  3) Most countries extending medical and education rights to refugees during the pandemic.

Finally, it was made very clear that continuing effective advocacy to governments was critical if human rights and international law are to be respected.

 

Kind regards

Nizza Siano
Secretary L4R NSW
email:  contact@labor4refugees.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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