January and February 2020 Bulletin
As we enter a new decade the year is kicking into gear.
As ever, there is much to be done to turn Australia’s hearts towards compassion for those seeking asylum and refuge.
But we can start 2020 by sharing positive news – a great example is that the last 18 asylum seekers held at the Bomana immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea have been released. Read about it here: Last Manus Island asylum seekers released from PNG’s Bomana.
The United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) is also about to conduct their first visit to Australia. Dates for the visit are now confirmed as 29 March – 9 April. This is a powerful opportunity to hold the Australian Government to account on conditions in immigration detention.Many groups will be doing advocacy around this – stay tuned for more info on ways to get involved and actions.
We look forward to sharing more good news and opportunities to get involved in 2020.
The CAPSA team
We believe that together WE CAN make a difference, starting with small acts of kindness and hospitality and becoming a collective voice demanding more compassionate asylum seeker policies.
Pope’s Christmas message
On Christmas day, Pope Francis delivered a powerful Christmas Message to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, including a stirring reminder to offer those fleeing persecution a dignified life:
May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life. It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to ensure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps. It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.
You can read the full message here.
Events around the nation
Join the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice
The Palm Sunday walk will be taking place on Sunday 5 April this year. You can put this in your diary and keep an eye out for more details at: facebook.com/PalmSundayWalk
Refugee Alternatives conference 2020
The Refugee Alternatives conference is happening in Brisbane on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 February.
This year’s conference theme, the challenge of change, emboldens us to rise to the challenge of maximising our potential for change, within the current hostile policy landscape. At Refugee Alternatives 2020, we will come together to brainstorm how to bring about a humane approach to refugees and people seeking asylum, led by the people who have lived this experience first-hand. We will challenge ourselves as individuals and as a movement to move beyond business as usual, to forge new alternatives and make them a reality.
There are also a number of key side events taking place during the Conference week, including: QUT Collaborative Conversations; the Refugee Council’s annual movement day; and the inaugural Australian National Summit of Refugees. Check out the conference website for more information.
Keep an eye out on the conference website and Facebook event page for more updates!
The Refugee Council of Australia is declaring 2020 the #YearOfWelcome and is working with thousands of people across the country to foster a welcoming spirit towards refugees and people seeking asylum in communities all over.
The Year of Welcome is an opportunity for us to build a society we believe in, one we feel proud of. Each month will include a small action in their monthly bulletin that you can do in your local community.
Every year, around 12,000 people arrive in Australia as part of our Refugee & Humanitarian Program. They are settling in to rebuild their lives here. That’s 12,000 people who are learning their way around their new city or town, connecting with their local school, doctor and grocer, finding work and thriving in local communities.
We want to make sure that everyone gets the same welcome that Rnita and her family received when they arrived in Sydney.
The January action is to send a simple message to those seeking asylum and refugees, in Australia and further afield: You are welcome. See details here.
The message can be in video form or an image.
So how to do it?
- Create the image or video – Using your phone, take a photo of yourself with a sign with a message of welcome OR create a short video sharing your message of welcome
- Upload it to Twitter – upload your image or video to Twitter using the hashtag#YearOfWelcome – and share why you believe in an inviting and generous Australia. If you don’t have Twitter, email us your photo or video email@example.com
- We will share it – to spread the word, we will share a selection of videos and edit them together into one long message of welcome that will be shared via our member organisations with newly arrived refugees!
- According to The Guardian (29/1/2020), the Department of Home Affairs spent $6.1 million on flights transferring people between immigration detention centres in 2018-19.
- (The issue of people being transferred with little or no prior warning, and for reasons that were unclear, was noted by the Australia Human Right Commission in its October 2019 report on the use of force in immigration detention – from p. 139).
- The department also spent $111 million on legal costs in the same period – a $19 million increase on the previous year.
Recommended Reading & Viewing
- Leaked photos of Papua New Guinea prison reveal ‘torture’ of 18 asylum seekers cut off from world
- Last Manus Island asylum seekers released from PNG’s Bomana
- Hope Is a Complicated Concept: An Interview with Behrouz Boochani
- Ocean 12 asylum-seeker cricket team embrace sport in Australia to ‘forget past life’
- Research paper: Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia
- Australia’s asylum seeker policies called out in human rights report – Human Rights Watch has released World Report 2020, its 30th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. The report criticises Australia over a range of issues, including the repeal of Medevac legislation (see page 41).