16 February 2022
Dear <<First Name>>
Join us for our first meeting this year
on Wed 23 February @ the new starting time of 6.30pm
Join our Zoom Meeting next Wednesday using the following link:
You'll be sent a reminder email with the link on the day of our meeting.
The Minutes of our last meeting can be read at L4RNSWmin24Nov21
We'll be discussing what our most urgent demands will be when Labor forms government so that we are prepared and ready to go when this happens.
If you can't make it to our meetings, please take the time to read the minutes which are intentionally detailed to keep you up-to-date with our latest activities.
COVID & Villawood Detention Centre
You may recall that in November last year, Labor for Refugees wrote to Senator Kristina Keneally, expressing our concern about the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Park Hotel in Melbourne as well as in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation. More recently, on the 16 January, we again wrote to the Senator, after learning of the virus outbreak inside Sydney's Villawood detention centre. Across Australia's immigration system, at that time, 59% of people detained were fully vaccinated (fully meaning two vaccinations), compared to 78% of the general community and 92% of those were aged over 18. We urged Kristina to demand that the government immediately remove anyone inside Villawood who was at high risk and where possible, that they be allowed to live with their families.
The L4R letter follows L4RNSWCovidVillawood16Jan22
Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021 - L4R submission
On the 28 January last, Labor for Refugees made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Migration on the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021.
We outlined our concerns and opposition to the the current cruel system of indefinite and arbitrary detention and were among many other leading legal and human rights organisations who labelled the system inhumane, unnecessary, and unlawful.
Currently, more than 1,500 people are held in onshore immigration detention facilities in Australia with an average period of 689 days’ detention, compared with about 55 days in the US and 14 days in Canada.
We are now waiting for the Joint Standing Committee on Migration to report on it.
Labor calls for Community Detention for Medevac detainees
After the recent controversy surrounding tennis player Novak Djokovic's detention in the Park Hotel, Melbourne, Senator Keneally was interviewed by The Guardian on the 17 January 2022. When asked about Labor's position on those held in detention, she stated that the party supported them being held in community detention while their cases were finalised:
“Labor has been saying for months now, that if these refugees are able to live in the community they should do so,” Keneally said.
“In fact, we agreed with Peter Dutton, when he said it was more cost-effective to have these people living in the community while the outcome of their cases are determined. It is really now up to Karen Andrews to explain why that’s not happening.”
The link to this article follows:
It is costing more than $56,000 a night to house 32 refugees and asylum seekers in the Park Hotel in Melbourne. Labor said the government would save $19m by shifting the detainees into community detention, describing the ongoing cost as “an unbelievable waste of taxpayer money”.
We commend the Senator for making these statements and look forward to a Labor victory in the forthcoming federal election, when we expect the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum to vastly improve.
Australia holding people in immigration detention for record 689 days on average, report finds
Human Rights Watch says the average is 12 times longer than the US, showing ‘how completely alone Australia is in the world, in terms of how absolutely horrific indefinite detention is’.
Human Rights Watch has renewed calls for an end to the “harsh and unlawful policy”.
The link to The Guardian's full article follows:
The following numbers were sourced from the Refugee Council of Australia and summarised by Grandmothers for Refugees as follows:
Apart from those in Melbourne's Park Hotel, over 150 people from the MEDEVAC cohort are still held in other locations such as MITA (Melbourne) and BITA (Brisbane).
As at 30 September 2021:
1459 people in detention (1408 men & 51 women)
at least 5 children held so long they are now adults (over 3,100 days in detention)
500 people held for over 730 days.
The New Zealand Government has offered to resettle 150 refugees a year since 2013. If the Australian Government had accepted this offer, no one would be left in detention.
Refugee Council, Statistics https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/detention-australia-statistics
Nauru detention centre operator makes $101m profit – at least $500,000 for each detainee
You may have read the recent article about the obscene profit being made by Canstruct International, the company behind Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru. It made a $101m profit last financial year which is more than $500,000 for each of the fewer than 200 people held on the island.
Rard No 3, the holding company for Canstruct International, which has the government contract to run the Nauru offshore processing centre, has more than $340m in cash and investments, according to its most recent accounts filed with the corporate regulator.
When Canstruct International was initially awarded the Nauru contract in 2017 the company had $8 in assets.
Read the full Guardian article at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/12/nauru-detention-centre-operator-makes-101m-profit-at-least-500000-for-each-detainee