Thursday, 1st October at 730pm, BRASA’s Monthly Meeting,
GUEST SPEAKER: MAX COSTELLO
Max was formerly a WorkSafe Prosecuting solicitor and lecturer on employment law at RMIT University. He has repeatedly reminded the Federal Government that the health and safety of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru is Australia’s responsibility, not only morally but LEGALLY. He has called on Comcare, Australia’s peak workplace health and safety authority, to prosecute the Department of Immigration for breaching its duty of care towards detainees in detention centres.
Wednesday, 24th October. INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S DAY VIGIL
Wednesday’s protest outside Time Wilson’s office, in which BRASA and the Goldstein Grandmothers called for the asylum seeker children of Nauru to be brought to Australia was very successful. We received $xx.xx in donations (though we weren’t soliciting donations) and 71 postcards were signed and mailed to politicians calling for action to bring the refugee children on Nauru to safety. There were many supportive conversations, (as well as the usual recalcitrant ones).
Sunday, 14th Oct. Comedy Night
A big THANK YOU to all those who worked so hard to make Sunday’s Comedy Night with Adam Palmer such a resounding success. Particular thanks to Judy Carroll for organising the event with her multi-talented and big-hearted nephew Adam Palmer who provided such a memorable night of first class entertainment. Our treasurer Frank Carroll believes that the total proceeds of the night will come to $xxxx, and this money will go to the ‘Friends of Refugees’ in Springvale. Thanks to Melanie, Angie and Helen of the Hampton Community Centre who donated the use of the Hampton Community Centre. Thanks to Catherine Pearce who co-ordinated the raffle and to those who donated raffle prizes and goods for sale. Thanks to Barbara who made her signature dish of hot sausage rolls and to all those who donated food for the introductory savouries, and who worked in the kitchen, heating, serving and cleaning up. Thanks to all those who prepared the hall and to those who stayed afterwards to return the furniture and clean the hall. Thanks to all those who encouraged their friends and relatives to come and support the event and to all the good sports who bought raffle tickets. See photos below:
Thursday, 4th Oct, BRASA’s Monthly Meeting,
GUEST SPEAKER: MARGHERITA MEZZASOMA
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S REGIONAL REFUGEE
CAMPAIGN LEADER FOR VICTORIA
Margherita spoke to us about her work, and also about a proposal for a new kind of visa whereby groups might be allowed to sponsor a refugee to come to Australia if they undertake to support that person after arrival
Thursday, 6th Sep,
Guest speaker: Gillian Triggs – Why Australia Needs a Bill of Rights
Plus, Exhibition of Photographs by Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Yannis Behrakis
Thursday night’s event was a resounding success. Professor Gillian Triggs delivered a powerful speech and the audience had an opportunity to ask their own questions of one of the most highly qualified and experienced lawyers in Australia. We had somewhere between 120 and 150 people present. The Silent Auction raised a substantial amount which will be divided between Justice Connect and the Human Rights Law Centre, both of which provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers and refugees.
Most gratifying of all was the wonderful spirit that the event generated. It was great to see people who previously didn’t know one another having animated discussions with new-found friends. In my own case a lady whom I have known slightly in another context over many years, chatted to me and we discovered that we both had a common interest in the issue of policy towards asylum seekers. A VERY BIG THANK YOU to ALL those who patronised our Silent Auction as well as to all those who helped to create the event.
Thurs, 9 July. QANTAS PROTEST
Three BRASA members attended Thursday’s protest outside the headquarters of QANTAS and JETSTAR to urge the companies to refuse to comply with the Government’s policy of forcibly returning people to dangerous situations that they have fled from. The attached photo shows the protest in the early stages. Later Robert counted 50 people at the protest. The BRASA letters made quite a strong statement that the people passing in trams, buses and cars could easily read. The husband of Huyen, a young Vietnamese woman who is about to be deported, addressed those assembled. It was very moving.
Sunday 29 July at ST JOHN’S SOCIAL JUSTICE LUNCH WITH DAVID MANNE
David Manne, Executive Director of Refugee Legal, an organisation that does essential work to assist refugees, was the guest speaker at this fundraising lunch at St John’s Elsternwick on Sunday 29 July. Proceeds to Refugee Legal.
Saturday 21 July, Rally, 5 Years Too Long, State Library
This July, marks 5 years since the ‘PNG solution’ was announced.
More than 500 people attended this rally to protest about the offshore detention centres, which have been in existence for five years !! The protesters demanded the closure of offshore detention centres, and that the government bring the refugees here.
Speakers included :
Janet Rice – Greens Councillor
Mohamed Xarbi – Somalian journalist and refugee
Lavanya Thavaraja – Tamil Refugee Council
Behrouz Bouchani – live cross from Manus
Thursday, 19 July
BRASA members joined the Grandmothers vigil outside Tim Wilson’s office in Bentleigh to highlight 5 years of offshore detention. Empty chairs and shoes were used to represent those who have died in offshore detention, while those involved engaged with the passers-by.
Sat/Sun 7-8 July The recently formed Australian Refugee Advocacy Network (A.R.A.N.) held its second annual conference in Melbourne. A very interesting program was planned. Please see the Conference Program. (You may see yourself or a friend in the photo that is being used to advertise the conference showing our members holding up a sign at the Palm Sunday rally.)
Julian Burnside gave a presentation. It was a great opportunity to meet other refugee activists from other parts of Australia,
Judy and Geraldine contributied at one of the workshops with participants on ‘Building your group or network.’
There was an optional dinner on the Saturday night provided by the Tamilfeast chefs at a Melbourne rooftop venue.
Thursday 5th July, BRASA’s Monthly Meeting guest speakers, John and Lizzie Swatland.
John and Lizzie Swatland, who are making a documentary called ‘Scattered People’ about the place of music in the lives of refugees came to the meeting. They told us about their project and showed us a short promotional film.
Greg Jones came with copies for sale of a DVD of music from last year’s ‘Journeys Through Song’ fundraising concert.
BALLARAT REFUGEE ART SHOW
Situated in Pearce’s Park, Golden Point, Ballarat. It could be viewed 24 hours a day from 2-27 June. The official launch was on Saturday 16 June 2-4 pm
Our main event for Refugee Week will be a fundraiser dinner at Tamilfeast, East Brunswick on Friday 22nd June at 7 pm. This is a restaurant that serves traditional Sri Lankan dishes. the chefs are former long-term detainees in Australian detention. Proceeds will go to Sri Samy’s ‘Friends of Refugees’ organisation that provides essential services to refugees in Melbourne’s South East. It’s an event that you’ll be talking about for weeks after.
$40 vegetarian meal, $45 meal with meat. Wine $8 per glass, $35 per bottle. https://tamilfeasts.ceres.org.au
Sunday, 17th June, Bike Ride for Long Term Detainees
Despite the truly awful weather on the day of the bike ride for the long-term detainees, a number of hardy and determined people rode to the Melbourne Museum and assembled there for music, speeches and refreshments. Judy and Catherine attended. Thanks to Judy for the attached photos.
A message from Judy:
Catherine and I went in and met the bike riders this morning..about 30 brave souls did the ride, among them Lee Hanmer, and Kieran McGee. I told Niro that I thought he did a very good job. He had oranges, hot food, hot tea with lemon and honey and many different cakes. We had two singers. Niro said a few words and one of the riders gave a short speech about the incredible endurance of these incarcerated souls.
Thursday, 7th June, Monthly Meeting at Hampton Uniting
Sunday, 27th May, Letter Writing at Hampton Uniting
To write to the politicians about the withdrawal of SRSS payments to asylum seekers living in the Australian community. It is devastating news for those affected
24th May. ‘FRIENDS OF REFUGEES’ TOUR
Today a group of us consisting of Judy and Frank, Stan and Katie, Faye and Lindsay and Barbara and I visited Sri Samy at her warehouse in Dandenong. Sri is trained as an architect and problem solution exponent who has been working with asylum seekers for seven years.
When we entered the warehouse there was a small group of women having an exercise programme and a mother with four children who were playing on a climbing frame.
Apparently there is no official daycare but mothers can take part in activities as long as they have a direct line of sight to their children. Sri commented that it was a very quiet day as they have many activities for the refugees. These include English lessons, sewing, yoga, an employment programme and provision of food and household needs including furniture and white goods. These can be delivered by their truck to people’s homes. The driver and warehouse supervisor is the only paid employee, the rest, including Sri. are volunteers. The truck has made over 4,000 deliveries.
The Warehouse is open from 9-3.15 each week day and 9-5 on Saturdays. In addition they have an after school programme for children from prep to Year 12. These are assisted by 80 volunteers including uni students and teachers who provide one to one mentoring and teaching.
Sri Samy’s organisation Friends of Refugees assist over 2,000 people in the Greater Dandenong area but further aids another 4,000 people from the surrounding areas where services are not provided.
It has cost over $60,000 per year to pay rent for the warehouse. However if you include utilities, wages, running costs for the truck, provision food aid, programmes etc. the annual total expenditure is around $180,000.
Because the refugees generally have poor English they are trained in cleaning, gardening and furniture removals. They employ the refugees on award rates and this social enterprise provides some of the money which pays for the various programmes. Those with the appropriate visas are able to access Medicare and CentreLink at present. Sri has yet to access any government grants which would cover some of her costs.
Until recently Red Cross were providing a very good service to refugees but unfortunately they have lost their funding which has apparently gone to the Adult Migrant English Service (AMES) and Life Without Barriers. Friends of Refugees is part of an advisory committee with other providers of social welfare.
Friends of Refugees provides the services for those which are not met by other organisations. These are the people with fewer English skills. It is hoped that ASRC will open in the Greater Dandenong area to provide the services needed as they have access to more finance and paid and volunteer workers.
Those seeking help usually find it by word of mouth as there is no publicity. Sri is so stretched with her workload that it is difficult to find time to advertise the services or to speak to various groups in the community who might provide more finance. Sri would be freed of some of her responsibilities if she had an administrative assistant but as soon as she trains one they tend to find paid employment.
When the Government changes to the SRSS come in to play there will be a much greater call for the services of all the support groups to stave off homelessness and hunger.
At present there are incidences of 17 young men in one three bedroom home and three families sharing a three bedroom home. This can lead to exploitation by certain landowners.
Friends of Refugees are needing beds, household furniture, white goods, kitchen appliances, cookware, crockery, cutlery, sewing machines, fabric, winter coats, blankets but they prefer people to access op shops and the like for their clothing.
Thursday, 3rd May at 7.30. BRASA’s Annual General Meeting
Eighteen people attended this annual event. Thanks was given to all the position holders for their good work throughout the past twelve months. President Geraldine then declared all committee positions vacant, and Janine stepped in to chair the meeting until the outcome of the nominations had been completed. The results were:
President: Geraldine (re-elected)
Treasurer: Frank (re-elected)
Secretary: Robert (replacing Lydia)
The AGM was followed by a Monthly General Meeting, with the new committee.
20th April, Visit to MITA, Report
Four of us, Geraldine, Janine, Amy and Robert drove to MITA to visit eight detainees as arranged. We each brought snacks and nibblies to share. We each had to have our bags searched and we entered a common-room through a metal detector. Janine warned about only taking suitable foods. One food item was not allowed in because it was past the use-by date, and another was not permitted because it was not it a properly sealed container.
We were allocated two tables, and there was another visitor on another table.
The young men entered the room and greeted us individually, and we chatted with them about their wellbeing and about their lives at MITA, and some of them spoke of their lives before they became refugees.
We were told of a young mother in detention who had two children. The youngest was two months old and already had been issued with a visa, but the mother still does not have one.
It was emphasised that the application process to visit the detainees is very complicated. It was also noted that the SERCO staff were very relaxed and unintimidating (although the high fences was!- Robert)
Sunday, 15th April. BRASA’s HIGH TEA
This was a fundraiser for Sri Samy’s ‘Friends of Refugees’ association, and particularly to help to fund the truck that the group uses to take furniture, bedding and white goods to needy refugees in Melbourne’s South-East. It was a gourmet experience with a range of savouries and sweet treats, a cultural experience with a chance to hear Lydia, our classical singer performing, a consciousness-raising experience and above all, a chance to dress up and wear your pearls, tiara, furs, feather boas, cravats, pocket kerchiefs,butterfly glasses, lapel corsage, cuff links, or whatever!
A total of $1480 was raised
Sunday, 25th March:, Palm Sunday, Walk for Justice for Refugees
The weather smiled upon us this year, and the numbers were up compared with last year, an estimated crowd of 10,000!
Abdul Aziz Adam live from Manus Island. Aziz is a refugee from Darfur in Sudan and has been imprisoned on Manus for over 4 years.
Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision Australia
Anwar Ibrahim, Rohingyan refugee
Lavanya Thavaraja,Tamil Refugee Council
Mr Mohamed Mohideen, President of Islamic Council of Victoria,
Rev Sharon Hollis, Moderator, Uniting Church of Australia, Victorian and Tasmanian Synod
Mr Bhakta Dasa, Vaisnava Hindu Minister of Religion, Interfaith Coordinator Communications Director for ISKCON Victoria
Wrap up on behalf of organisers: Pamela Curr – long time refugee advocate & Chris Breen – Refugee Action Collective
Saturday, 3rd March, 10am-2pm, BRASA Stall at the Castlefield Community Centre Mini Market
at: 505 Bluff Road, Hampton (next to the shops on the corner of South Road)
The Castlefield Community Centre’s Mini-Market on Saturday 3 March was held in brilliant sunshine. Our stall featured home made preserves, colourful home-sewn tutus, aprons, cot covers, baby change mats, stuffed refugee dolls, potted plants, mobile phone cushion rests and cordial drinks. There was a raffle with prizes donated by BRASA members; Katie, Judy, Faye and Lindsay. The first prize was a hamper of gourmet goods. The second was a pair of Krosno Wine glasses. Third prize was a glass vase. It was great to see friends who called in, and to chat with other stall-holders and the staff of the Centre. Some visitors to the stall took our fliers about the Palm Sunday rally, and signed the petition. The stall and raffle raised $168.40. The proceeds will be given to Sri Samy of ‘Friends of Refugees’ in Dandenong to assist with that organisation’s remarkable work for refugees.
Thursday, 1st March, at 7.00 PM , BRASA Guest Speaker and General Meeting
Guest speaker, Pamela Curr, was formally the Detention Advocate for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, before her official retirement, however she is still very active working for asylum seeker and refugee causes. She spoke on the topic of ‘2018, What can we do now?’
“Our evening with Pamela Curr went very well. She spoke about the cruelty that is being inflicted upon asylum seekers and refugees by our Government. She outlined the burdensome new procedures for arranging a visit to MITA that seem to have been devised to deter visitors and deprive the detainees of the solace of any normal human contact. She also revealed the statistics that show the low numbers of applications for refugee status that are being accepted with a comparison based upon race. She explains that the role of the Immigration Assessment Authority (I.A.A.) is to conduct reviews of fast track reviewable decisions. Fast track reviewable decisions are those decisions made by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, or delegate, to refuse to grant a protection visa to a fast track applicant.
If you are feeling that Australia has hit the bottom of the barrel in human rights he latest IAA figures, for the period ending 31 December 2017 will not make you think otherwise.
Success rates are 1 in 10 Sri Lankans
1 in 3 Iranians
1 in 5 Afghans.
Overall the remittal rate is 15%, but this would be skewed by the large number of Sri Lankans being reviewed (half of the Case Load is from Sri Lanka)
No further information is provided on basis of claims, but can assume most Sri Lankans are Tamils. Not sure how many of the Afghan cohort would be Hazara.
These figures are for Fast Track Review only, and do not provide any information on primary decision outcomes.”
Following the Pamela’s presentation, there was a short supper-break after which began BRASA’s Monthly General Meeting at Hampton Uniting Church Meeting Room, 17 Service St, Hampton.
Sunday, 18th February 2018
BRASA members Geraldine, Alex, Katie and Robert, joined the demonstration today, outside Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation at Broadmeadows (MITA), to protest the government’s decision to return Santharuban, a Sri Lankan Tamil man, back to Sri Lanka.
IMPENDING DEPORTATION PUTS TAMIL MAN IN JEOPARDY – 13th February 2018
The Australian government’s decision to deport to Sri Lanka a former ranking member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) puts at risk his safety and possibly his life, the Tamil Refugee Council said today.
Read more at:
Special thanks goes to Geraldine, who happily provided the transport, organised the signage, and took the photo!
Thursday, 1st February, 2018 at 7.30 PM
First General meeting for 2018
Guest Speaker : Umesh Perinbanayagam
Topic : Sri Lanka since the Civil War
On behalf of the Tamil Refugee Council, Umesh spoke about the situation of Tamil refugees in Australia and the Asia-Pacific as well as the situation facing Tamils in their homeland. Tamil Refugee Council is a grassroots organisation of Tamil refugees advocating for the rights of refugees in Australia.
Umesh has been working as a researcher at the University of Auckland Law School looking at the situation facing the Tamil people in the State of Ceylon/Sri Lanka from 1948 to present, in particular in the Tamil homeland in the North and East of the island, Tamil Eelam (see here and here) and has also been researching the treatment of refugees by the New Zealand Government (see here).