2 November 2016

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Perverse punishment for people seeking asylum

The government’s recent proposal to permanently ban any adult who has sought asylum by boat from entering Australia would be ill-targeted, perverse punishment for people who came to Australia seeking safety.  Meanwhile, those people detained on Manus Island and Nauru continue to wait in limbo for a sustainable resettlement option.  Reports show that they have already been subjected to an ongoing pattern of abuse, which Amnesty International have found to be tantamount to torture.  Just last week, a person was charged with the indecent assault of a six year old child in Nauru, who has attempted to seek Australia's protection.
Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) acting CEO Tim O’Connor said that ‘the Minister and the Prime Minister have gone to some lengths to suggest these proposed laws are targeted at the people smuggling trade, yet it is both perverse and cruel that the people who will be ill-targeted are those that have sought our safety and protection’.

Furthermore, the proposal shows that our leaders are, worryingly, moving Australia further away from engaging in sustainable solutions to global displacement.The announcement has caused great anxiety and also fails to address the precarious future of the 30,000 people living in the Australian community on bridging and temporary visas. There is an ongoing mental health crisis within this group, including an alarming spike in the number of suicides in recent months. 

RCOA believes that the people imprisoned on Nauru and Manus Island should immediately be brought to Australia and processed.  Sign and share our petition below if you agree. Please also consider contacting your MP and Senators let them know that you oppose the proposed legislation.
Photo credit: UNHCR
Sign the petition to #BringThemHere
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Annual General Meeting

On Monday 14 November 2016, RCOA will hold its Annual General Meeting and Members’ Event:
Annual General Meeting

Join us to celebrate our achievements of 2015/16. 
When: 4.00pm-5.00pm
Where: Colin Biggers & Paisley, Level 42, 2 Park Street Sydney NSW 2000.

Members’ Event: “What is a Refugee?” Book Launch
What: RCOA’s Vice President William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy, Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University will launch his latest book "What is a Refugee?"
When: 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Where: The event is kindly being hosted by Colin, Biggers & Paisley, at Level 42, 2 Park Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

More information and RSVP

Refugee Film Festival

This Friday, 4th November, we launch our first ever Refugee Film Festival. The Festival will officially launch at Melbourne’s ACMI cinema on 4 November 2016, with a special screening of Constance on the Edge. The film tells the story of feisty and charismatic Constance, leading by example as she guides her family away from their painful past. Filmed over 10 years, The screening will be followed by a special Q & A with Constance herself, as well as the film’s Director, Belinda Mason and Impact Producer, Allison Henry. 

Tickets for Friday have already sold out but regular screenings will be held in the lead up to, and during, Refugee Week 2017.  Watch this space for more announcements. 
Image: Pixabay
City of Parramatta becomes Refugee Welcome Zone
The City of Parramatta has formalised their strong leadership in welcoming refugees by becoming the latest council to join the Refugee Welcome Zone initiative. The Jesuit Refugee Service, the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, and the Refugee Council of Australia together approached the City of Parramatta to propose that the council become a Refugee Welcome Zone, a national initiative recognising local government areas that make a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into the community and acknowledging the positive contribution refugees make to society.

On the 10th October, 2016, the City of Parramatta, led by Administrator, Amanda Chadwick, formally endorsed this recommendation and at a ceremony planned for later this year, Parramatta will become a Refugee Welcome Zone.  Parramatta joins over 140 local councils across Australia who have taken the pledge to welcome refugees into their communities. 
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Save the Date: Refugee Alternatives
The Refugee Council of Australia is excited to be hosting the inaugural Refugee Alternatives Conference in conjunction with UNSW Australia. The Conference will take place on 22 – 23 February 2017 at the Ainsworth Building, UNSW

The conference will be a two-day event held in Sydney, focusing on improving policy, practice and public support. Program details will follow shortly here, where there will also be regular updates, details of the Academic Symposium organised by UNSW, speaker details and other related events.  

We are delighted to welcome Elizabeth Ferris as the Keynote Speaker. Elizabeth is a research professor with the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service,  and serves as a Non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. In September 2016, Elizabeth served as Senior Advisor to the UN General Assembly’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York.

Save the date now and register your interest below to receive more details. 
Register your interest
Refugee Week 2017: Get involved

Preparations have begun for Refugee Week 2017, which will take place from Sunday 18- Saturday 24 June 2017.  Refugee Week 2016 was the biggest and best that Australia had ever seen, with over 350 events being hosted across the country. Help us to make 2017 even better! 

Your organisation can be part of Refugee Week 2017 and gain exposure to an audience of thousands of engaged and interested people, while standing up for the courage and contribution of refugees. Don't miss the chance to get involved in this incredible annual celebration of Australia's refugee communities. Click the link below for different sponsorship packages. 
Find out more
Support a fair go for people seeking asylum
The Australian Government have announced a ban for people seeking asylum from ever entering Australia. People cannot choose how they flee a dangerous situation. Most Australians support fair onshore processing for people seeking asylum. Our laws are inhumane, unjust and out of touch with the wishes of the electorate.
Together we can keep up the pressure to change these unfair and unjust policies.  Please help to support our advocacy by donating below. 
Become a regular supporter
Submission on Temporary Stay Parent Visa
RCOA made a submission to the  Department of Immigration and Border Protection on the development of a temporary stay parent visa. The submission outlines concerns about various aspects of this proposal. RCOA is concerned that this new temporary visa may not provide a family reunion pathway for people from a refugee background. The proposed sponsorship requirements, temporary nature of this visa and factors that could determine the length of the visa (such as the applicants’ previous immigration history) all disadvantage refugee families and new humanitarian arrivals.

Australia's Growing Linguistic Diversity
The Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA) has been undertaking work on language service provision for new and emerging communities in Australia. As part of this work FECCA has recommended an optimal training and accreditation model for individuals who wish to become interpreters in new and emerging community languages. Please click the link above to read the full report. To examine the feasibility of the proposed model and interest from communities, FECCA would like to undertake consultation with refugee communities in November and December.To discuss further, please contact Erin Gillen from FECCA on or 02 6282 5755.

To read more of RCOA's reports and publications, click here


Achieving the best settlement outcomes for young people in Australia: national training on the Youth Settlement Framework
Nationwide, ongoing

MYAN Australia has been partnering with affiliated state and territory organisations to deliver training workshops across Australia on understanding and applying the National Youth Settlement Framework, the first of its kind in Australia. Workshops have been delivered in the NT, NSW and WA, with QLD, VIC, SA, and TAS yet to come. The next training takes place in Brisbane, 2 & 3 November 2016. Click the link above for more information and to register. 

It's Time: #BringThemHere 
Nationwide, October 30-Nov 6
Across Australia, people are taking to the streets to demand an end to offshore detention and justice for people seeking asylum.  Click the link above to find out more about what is happening in your area, or to host your own event. 

EECV State Conference
Ballarat, VIC, November 10-11
This conference will bring together leading decision makers, academics and practitioners to explore the future of multicultural Victoria. Panel discussions, plenary sessions and presentations will take place with an intergenerational perspective and a strong involvement of young people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Courageous Journeys book launch
Glebe, NSW, November 16, 6pm
Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre and the Melkite Catholic Welfare Association invite you to attend the launch of Courageous Journeys: A Family Portrait.The book captures the refugee experience in South West Sydney through a series of family portraits. All proceeds from the sale of the book, which will be available on the night, will be reinvested into community projects benefiting newly-arrived refugees in South West Sydney.

For more events or to submit an event, see our calendar.


Annual Consultations
The Refugee Council of Australia’s round of annual consultations are coming to an end in late November.  If you would like to have your say, you can tell us your views online through the surveys on our annual consultations page.  There are three surveys: for people of refugee background or seeking asylum; for young people of refugee background or those seeking asylum; and for those supporting them. There are also translations of the questions online into some of the community languages.

Curtin Humanitarian Fund Scholarship
If you are living in the Australian community on a Bridging Visa E, Temporary Protection Visa or Safe Haven Enterprise Visa, you are eligible to apply for a Curtin Humanitarian Fund scholarship to study at Curtin University in Semester 1 or Trimester 1, 2017.

Family play groups
SydWest Multicultural Services are starting family play groups for settling and newly arrived people seeking asylum and humanitarian entrants in Blacktown and Mt Druitt. They will be a great way for parents and children to engage with each other and other families in a range of fun and educational activities like story time, rhyme time, arts & craft and more. For information contact Sonia on (02) 9621 6633 or 9625 0455 .

To see more or to post an employment opportunity, see our employment page.


National & Regional
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Australia 'trashing its international reputation'
Australia is heading in the wrong direction with refugee ban

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The Aussies who would be banned under new laws
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Tent cities rise in Paris after 'jungle' evacuation
Reversing the anti-refugee discourse with art
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Why Uganda is a model for processing refugees
Fear stalks Myanmar's Rakhine State in wake of deadly attacks

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