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17 August 2016
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On August 10, 2016, The Guardian released the #NauruFiles -  2116 incident reports from refugees and asylum seekers sent to Nauru by the Australian government. The shocking content details child abuse, child sexual abuse, threats, self-harm and psychological damage.  Children are significantly over-represented in the reports; despite making up less than 20% of the population of the detention centres, kids feature in over half of the incidents reported.

This massive exposé of the brutal system our Government has created is costing Australian taxpayers over $1 billion a year and yet has been kept from us through the extreme secrecy in which the system operates. The Border Force Act threatens whistle-blowers with up to two years' imprisonment and only favoured journalists are allowed access. As such, the release of the Nauru Files constitutes a historic moment, bringing to light one of the Australian Government's darkest secrets.

The response to the systematic brutality that is ongoing in these Australian designed, funded and managed centres has been monumental. The UN has again told the Australian government to close the centres, labeling them
'dire and untenable'. Across Australia, thousands of people held vigils outside the offices of 29 MPs on Monday, including that of PM Turnbull. Thousands more are taking to the streets on 27th August, in cities across Australia as well as in Tokyo and London. Today over 1800 academics have called for an urgent summit to examine the proposals we and others have put forward calling for a better way. 100 staff who have worked on Nauru and Manus are also calling to immediately bring these people to safety,

The government's response so far has been to downplay the significance of the files.  Immigration Minister Dutton even stated that some of the reports were unsubstantiated, while bizarrely saying others self-immolated in order to come to Australia. It now seems likely, however, that a senate enquiry into the abuse will be conducted, following increasing pressure from the opposition and crossbenchers. In the coming days we will see more organisations and people coming forward to demand a better way.

We need your help though. The Refugee Council of Australia is:
  • Calling for our government to bring people from Nauru to immediate safety;
  • Calling for an urgent independent investigation into the all the incidents reported;
  • Supporting the call for a national summit to provide humane, legal and sustainable alternatives to Australia's treatment of people seekign asylum.
Join us and the many others who are working to end this dark passage in our history. Add your voice below.
Image: Creative Commons/Ggia
Add Your Voice to #BringThemHere



Annual Consultations: Have Your Say on Australia's Refugee Policy

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is holding its annual national consultations on Australia’s refugee and asylum policies.
We are seeking feedback, suggestions and concerns from refugee communities, people seeking asylum, and individuals and organisations working with these communities.
This year’s consultations will focus on four key issues:

  • Australia’s response to international refugee needs
  • Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program
  • Settlement support for all humanitarian entrants
  • Australia’s asylum policies

This is an important opportunity to share your views about Australia’s policies. Your feedback will inform RCOA’s ongoing research, submissions, reports and advocacy in Australia and internationally.

Find out more



Stanley tells his Story to Sydney Schoolkids 


Stanley M’mangwa, a presenter with RCOA's Face to Face program, told the story of his long refugee journey from the Congo to Sydney to over 240 Year 10 students at All Saints Catholic College on 15 August. Alongside Stanley was Sue Simpson, a former secondary school teacher, who joined him on stage to provide information about refugees and Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program. The pair spent many months working together to develop their presentation for schools.

The presentation was part of RCOA’s Face to Face program of incursions available to schools in Melbourne, Sydney, the Illawarra and Shepparton. The program offers you the opportunity to meet with people who have lived the refugee experience, and hear firsthand about the courage that it takes to leave your life behind because of the persecution you face. If you are in a school. community group or private organisation in Sydney, Melbourne and the Illawarra region, find out more by clicking the button below.
Find out more about our Face to Face program



 Give Refugees a Stronger Voice


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Advocating for the fair treatment of refugees is a long term process.  To give refugees and asylum seekers we need regular, ongoing support.  You can make a difference today with a monthly donation and help us give refugees a stronger voice for now and for the future.

Image: UNHCR

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EVENTS


Heartlands 2016 Arts Project: Stories from Refugee Youth 
Until 28 August

Last chance to view the brilliant Heartlands 2016 Arts Project: Stories from Refugee Youth, which features young people from refugee backgrounds telling their stories about their unique settlement journeys through film.

Arts & Refugees Forum
August 19 @ 08:00am-August 20 @ 5:00pm
The forum is part of the Refugees exhibition (29 July – 11 September 2016) and provides an opportunity for artists, arts organisations, humanitarian organisations, community development workers and academics to share their experiences about the interactions between refugees and the arts.

Confined Hearts Exhibition
August 20 @ 10:00am & 1:00pm
September 17 @ 10:00am & 1:00pm

Artist Penny Ryan has been running workshops in the community  to make 1468 small terracotta human hearts, one for each person in offshore detention. The hearts are being installed across Sydney in art spaces and public places. Penny is conducting workshops to make the hearts, encouraging a discussion of people’s understanding and response to the current global crisis and Australia’s approach.

Close the Camps: Bring Them Here Rallies around Australia
August 27 @ 12pm
As the momentum builds against the policy of detaining people in secretive offshore camps, tens of thousands of Australians are taking to the streets around the country to demand a better way.

Global Citizenship and You: Embracing Earth's Challenge
August 27 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
This workshop is comprised of interactive sessions to build on who we need to be and what we need to do at this momentous time in human history. The workshop aims to inspire and equip you to engage in effective collective action in the world. 

Refugee and Migrant Forum 
August 28 @ 2pm
Refugee and Migrant Sunday is the 28th of August and the Victorian Council of Churches’ Social Questions Commission are hosting a forum of people from different denominations to share how to best advocate for refugees and people seeking asylum. Sr. Brigid Arthur, Rev. Ian Smith, Jill Ruzbacky and Misha Coleman will feature. 2pm, 320 Latrobe St, Melbourne

Diasporas in Action Conference
September 26 @ 9:00 am - September 27 @ 5:00 pm
An Australian first, this conference will focus on the innovation and growing impact of diaspora communities in the global humanitarian, peace and development effort. The program will include speakers and participants from Australian and international diaspora organisations, government, policy makers and some of the world’s most experienced NGOs.

Exiled to Nowhere: Burma's Rohingya
Until 2 October
Exiled To Nowhere shares the stories and plight of a people who right now have nowhere to go and illustrates their courage to stay alive whatever the ground beneath their feet. Customs House, Sydney.


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


MEDIA

National

Cast adrift: Australia risks its international standing over refugee policies
Hundreds of protesters target Turnbull and others over Nauru files
Call summit on Nauru, Manus Island, Malcolm Turnbull urged
After the Nauru files, how can Australia go about ending offshore detention?
More than 100 current and former Nauru and Manus staff call for centres to close


Regional

Refugee assaulted on Papua New Guinea
Nauru teachers speak out for children

International
Austria to consider state of emergency decree over refugee crisis
500 Calais migrant children eligible to move from Calais to the UK
Yemeni refugees caught up in Somaliland's struggle for nationhood

 


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