15 July 2020
Dear <<First Name>>
L4R Zoom meeting on Wednesday 22 July at 6pm
Please join us next week via Zoom for our L4R meeting.
The Zoom link to our meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83195332407
Date: Wednesday 22 July 2020
Guest Speaker: Lesley Osborne
Lesley is the Secretary of the Australia Western Sahara Association and will speak about the situation of the 170,000 plus refugees who have been living in exile in Algeria since 1975 waiting for the promised UN referendum of self-determination.
She will also give a brief update of the Refugee Council of Australia's No Child Left Behind campaign.
The link to the Minutes of our last meeting dated 25 June 2020 follows L4RNSWMin25Jun20
If you plan to join us, please print a copy of the June minutes for use at our July meeting.
No one Cares About Us
Labor for Refugees' Junior Vice-President Sabrin Farooqui, was successful in having her article "No one cares about us: Lives of detainees in alternative places of detention" published in the Independent Australia on 1 July in her capacity as President of the Cultural Diversity Network Inc.
Sabrin had been in touch with one of the asylum seekers from Bangladesh who arrived by boat at Christmas Island in 2013 and was transferred to the Melbourne APOD (Alternative Place of Detention) at the end of last year for urgent medical treatment. He is still locked up in the APOD.
"With the new spike of coronavirus cases in Melbourne, it is more important than ever to immediately release detainees held in immigration centres and move them to community detention centres".
The link to her article follows. Her article has been reproduced in a number of other publications.
Since writing this article, a staff member at the Mantra hotel in Preston Victoria has tested positive for COVID-19. The man is believed to work as a guard at this hotel which houses about 60 refugees and asylum seekers previously transferred from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said almost 200 refugees and asylum seekers brought to Australia under the medevac laws will never be allowed to live in the community, unlike some 1,000 who were brought to Australia for medical reasons before the medevac laws were implemented. Tudge said they would remain in detention until they elect to return either to their country of origin, or to Nauru or Papua New Guinea. Labor’s home affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally said the problem is of ‘Peter Dutton’s own creation’, and has called on the government to find third-country resettlement solutions for eligible refugees.
Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020
On 3 July, the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs held a public hearing into the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020.
This Bill aims to amend the Migration Act 1958 to: enable the minister to determine, by legislative instrument, prohibited things in relation to immigration detention facilities and detainees; enable authorised officers and assistants to search Commonwealth immigration detention facilities without a warrant; strengthen the search and seizure and screening powers of authorised officers; and enable the minister to issue binding written directions to authorised officers in relation to the exercise of their seizure powers.
The Senate committee inquiry into the proposed Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 made public 66 submissions, 62 of which express concerns or recommend rejecting the bill. Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow criticised the proposed legislation which could enable a ‘blanket ban’ on mobile phones in immigration detention facilities, and said the government is legally obliged to limit the ‘punitive impact’ of immigration detention. He called mobile phones a ‘lifeline’ for detainees, particularly in Australia where the average duration of immigration detention is 500 days, and asylum seekers in detention are 200 times more likely to self-harm than the population at large.
A number of human rights/refugee organisations opposed this Bill. One of them, the Kaldor Centre, urged the committee to reject the bill, arguing it is ‘disproportionate’ to the issues it seeks to address and has potentially ‘dangerous consequences’ for the well-being of immigration detainees, while further reducing transparency and accountability in Australia’s immigration system.
The Senate has referred the provisions of this Bill to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 5 August 2020.
Asylum Seekers in APODs and IDCs
Following the successful Tele-Town Hall Zoom event which took place on 30 April last, when a motion was overwhelmingly endorsed, asking Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to publicly demand that the Federal government release those refugees and people seeking asylum, locked up in APODs and Immigration Detention Centres, we now ask you to assist us in taking this a step further by doing the following:
L4R encourages all members, immediately following the resumption of Party activity, to move the refugee motion supported at the YLL/L4R Tele-Town Hall event on 30 April which reads as follows -
‘We call on Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to demand the immediate release of all refugees and asylum seekers being held in onshore and offshore detention as well as in temporary hotel accommodation. Asylum seekers urgently need to be moved to safe community accommodation to ensure their health and safety, particularly in the face of the current COVID-19 crisis”
We ask you to support this motion at your Branch and FEC when meetings recommence and submit it to the National Policy Forum as a National Conference agenda item. This can only be done at such time when Party Units are invited to submit motions by the ALP Policy Forum in the lead up to the ALP National Conference in December. Please also send a copy of this motion to Senator Kristina Keneally and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. We would love to see Labor's leadership bombarded by this motion.
We are aware that until Labor forms government, our hands are pretty much tied but Labor for Refugees feels that a more robust public attack by Labor's leaders, to shine a light on this government's cruel practices, is the least that Labor can do. We must make it clear to the public, that our refugee policies are NOT the same as that of this government's.
No Child Left Behind – Refugee Council of Australia campaign
There are currently around 16,000 children in families seeking protection in Australia. Many people seeking asylum have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 as they often work in the service sectors worst affected. People seeking asylum are not eligible for the JobSeeker or JobKeeper payments, like many other workers. Some don’t even have access to Medicare. The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is bringing together a coalition of educators, carers and students who are working to put pressure on the Federal government to ensure adequate support is provided for people in this situation.
Pre-Flight Experiences of LGBTQIA+ Refugees – A Mental Health Perspective
Please join the Cultural Diversity Network Inc. for the Zoom event on this very important issue.
Date: Thursday 30th July 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Facilitator: Brahm Marjadi, Associate Dean, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University
Professor Jaya Dantas, Dean International | Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor of International Health | School of Public Health Curtin University
Grace Jones from NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)
Bijan Kardooni - an LGBTQIA+ refugee with lived experience
Registration link will be available in the next couple of days on the website https://cdni.org.au/events
Together in Art - Migrations - Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW has been showcasing a number of Pocket exhibitions on its website. You may be interested in viewing the small exhibition entitled The Aussie posters by Peter Drew at https://togetherinart.org/the-aussie-posters/