6 September 2016
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Help us Keep Up the Pressure to #BringThemHere
On Saturday 27th August, thousands of people took to the streets around Australia to demand an end to the offshore detention regime and for those imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru to be brought to Australia to be processed and resettled immediately.  Solidarity events also took place in Tokyo and London, where a group of people read aloud more than 2,000 leaked incident reports from the Nauru files, during a 10-hour vigil outside Australia House.

Last week, Wilson Security announced that they would no longer service detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru from October 2017.  This follows a similar decision from Ferrovial, who own Broadspectrum, in August this year.  It is clear that both public and corporate support for the offshore detention regime are waning.

With your help, we have sustained pressure on the Australian government to address the appalling situation of the Australian managed offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru. The announcement that the Manus Island centre is to close is welcome, but raises great concerns about the welfare of the almost 1000 men Australia has kept there. Going home is not an option for these men, most of whom have already been recognised as refugees.  

Our Government has given absolutely no indication of any sustainable alternative for those who have been detained.  It is crucial that a safe and long-term option is urgently found for them. We need to maintain the pressure on the Government to end to these unfair and unjust policies.   Help us continue to keep up the pressure by donating below.
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Education Win in Victoria

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) welcomes the decision of the Victorian State Government to significantly expand training opportunities over the coming two years for people seeking asylum and refugees.

The $15 million investment will see a tenfold increase in the Asylum Seeker VET Program, which will grow from 300 to 3,000 places. Additionally, for the first time, refugees on temporary visas will be eligible to enroll. The Program offers participants professional training through TAFEs and other providers, which is of crucial importance for refugees and people seeking asylum who wish to seek employment.

Tim O’Connor, Acting CEO of RCOA, said ‘we are delighted by the announcement of a tenfold increase in training opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum in the state of Victoria. Such examples show the strong political leadership that is being provided by state governments”.

“Lack of access to educational opportunities has been identified as a significant problem for many of the communities that we work with, who want to be able to find meaningful employment to support themselves and their families and to successfully integrate into their new country. The expansion of the Asylum Seeker VET Program will make a profound difference to thousands of people across Victoria, and we will certainly be encouraging other states to follow suit."

RCOA’s report Barriers to Education for People Seeking Asylum and Refugees on Temporary Visas highlights the lack of training as a major obstacle to the successful settlement and integration of refugees and people seeking asylum. RCOA used the findings of this report to launch their Education for All campaign, which seeks to improve education and training possibilities for these groups.

Since the campaign was launched, RCOA has also worked with universities to successfully increase the number of scholarships available for people seeking asylum and refugees. RCOA will continue their lobbying and advocacy to increase the availability of scholarships and training for these groups to improve settlement outcomes, and welcomes this announcement as a significant step forward in the state of Victoria.

Image: Creative Commons / Joe Crawford
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RCOA at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas

On the weekend, our very own Shukufa Tahiri spoke movingly of her experience as a refugee at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House.  The Festival, in its eighth year, is a forum for engaged citizens to participate in challenging, inspirational and robust discussions with powerful speakers from around the world.
As a panellist in the in a forum Can we solve the asylum seeker problem?, Shukufa contributed to a lively discussion on innovative approaches to the issues faced by asylum seekers.  She shared her story of arriving in the country in 2006 after her Hazara minority family fled Afghanistan and spoke of the strange dichotomy between the welcome she received after she arrived by plane, and how her father was “treated with contempt and labelled an ‘illegal” when he first arrived by boat.
Image: Instagram/TheEmbassyofKindness
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Australian Advocacy in Geneva

In June 2016, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) joined Australian representatives of refugee communities and NGOs in a series of meetings in Geneva involving senior representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), NGOs and governments from around the world. The main gatherings were:

* Global Refugee Youth Consultations (12–15 June)

* Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (13–15 June)

* IOM NGO Humanitarian Consultations (13 June)

* UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs (15–17 June), and

* UNHCR Standing Committee on Protection (21–22 June).

Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) (13–15 June)

From 13–15 June, more than 200 representatives of UNHCR, IOM, governments and NGOs involved in refugee resettlement gathered to discuss international cooperation on refugee resettlement. Australia was represented by seven NGO representatives, four officials of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and by Elizabeth Lang, a former refugee from South Sudan who was resettled to Perth as a child.


View the full report
View the ATCR report


Diasporas in Action Conference

Registration for the Diasporas in Action Conference is open. Up to 200 participants will attend, representing diaspora organisations, academia, government, Australian and international NGOs, think tanks, embassies and consulates, businesses, and cooperating networks.
The two-day international conference (26 - 27 September 2016) to be held in Melbourne, Australia will focus on the role of diaspora communities in global peace, development and humanitarian response. Australian and international speakers will explore the unique and growing contribution of diasporas, who are increasingly recognised as innovators in this space. The conference streams will cover the engagement of diasporas in:
• Human development
• Conflict resolution and peacebuilding
• Human rights
• Economic development
• Humanitarian issues and response
• Settlement in host countries
To learn more about why this conference is a unique opportunity for all, click here. For details on keynote speakers and the draft program, please click here.

Our Melbourne offices have moved! We are delighted to be sharing a space with Diasporas in Action and Refugee Legal.  If you want to write to us or drop round to say hi, you can now find us at:

Refugee Council of Australia
Level 6, 20 Otter Street
VIC 3066

Australian Human Rights Awards- nominations closing soon!
Nominations for Australia’s premier human rights awards close shortly, so now’s the time to put your hand up or nominate someone that you know for the Australian Human Rights Awards 2016. Human rights deserve to be recognised, celebrated, respected and most importantly upheld. Please help celebrate ordinary Australians and distinguished community leaders who have contributed to improving human rights in Australia. Just click the link above to nominate.

Architects of social bridges- an evening of multicultural discussion, music and food
September 15, Fitzroy, VIC
Australia Red Cross invites you to a free event to celebrate our cultural diversity and inspire new ways of making Australia an even more welcoming society. Engage with a panel of expert speakers hosted by author and activist Tasneem Chopra, enjoy live performances by local artists Abe Nouk and Terrasur and taste international canapes cooked by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Housing Workshop- Shelter NSW
September 21, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Shelter NSW is conducting a series of regional workshops on housing in NSW, to identify the key housing issues in each region and promising solutions to those issues. They would welcome input by refugees and people seeking asylum in those consultations.

Global Histories of Refugees in the 20th and 21st Centuries
October 6-7, Melbourne, VIC
Organised by the University of Melbourne, this is a 3 day conference on the global histories of refugees over the last two centuries. Registration for the event is now open.

National Multicultural Women's Conference
November 3-4, NSW
This national event is an outcome of an innovative partnership between Settlement Services International (SSI) and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), with support from Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, that will provide a holistic perspective towards shaping a shared vision and driving change. 

For a full list of upcoming events across the country and in your areas, see our calendar here.



Victoria announces $15 million investment in education for refugees and people seeking asylum
Australia's two faces on violence against women
The Storm: eye-opening documentary featuring teenage refugees 
Former judge offers body swap with detainee
Iraqi refugee awarded bravery medal


Australia's offshore detention left foundering
Nauru fiasco confirms Danish suspicions
What now for the future of offshore processing?
Act now on Manus and Nauru or 'many more' will attempt self-harm


Stunning images capture harsh reality of life for refugee children

'We never turn a child away': helping those who don't make it to Europe
Just three countries produce half the world's refugees
Greek volunteers share UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award


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