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State of the Nation

Today, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) released the first ever State of the Nation report, a comprehensive investigation into the experiences of those seeking safety and settling in Australia within the broader context of the global crisis of human displacement.

At a time when displacement is at its highest levels since World War II, this report critiques our government’s insular and often punitive fixation on closing Australia’s borders. It also examines the challenges faced by those who have arrived in Australia and are seeking to build new lives. Many of these people are forced to live in an anxious limbo, plagued by mental health issues and lacking the resources, support and stability that they so desperately need.

The report tells us what is happening to real people, here in our community, to their loved ones and their families.  It presents the voices and views, the ideas and expertise, of people who are seeking safety and settling in Australia, and of the many committed people who are working hard to help them. State of the Nation is informed by our consultations with people across Australia and within our networks in 2015 and 2016. It also sets out the challenges we face in 2017 and provides clear actions our governments and communities can take to ensure the fair treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum. 

Read the report
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Australia Should Act to Help Persecuted Rohingya

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has called on the Australian government to act urgently to stem the systemic violence being perpetrated against Rohingya people.

Thousands of Rohingya are reported killed and an estimated 70,000 have fled across the border following an escalation of violence, rape and killings which, according to British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Alison Blake, may be tantamount to genocide.

CEO of RCOA Paul Power said, “The growing body of evidence suggests this latest crackdown on the Rohingya is a modern ethnic cleansing being played out before our eyes. Thousands of Rohingya have been reported dead. Children have been burnt to death, women raped and sexually assaulted and homes and villages destroyed in a systematic wave of targeted violence.”

RCOA welcomes the Australian Government's recent condemnation of the treatment of the Rohingya, and is calling on political leaders to take further action immediately. Australia should urgently increase resettlement places for Rohingya people, take action on the causes of displacement in Myanmar, and increase humanitarian assistance to those displaced. 

Image: Flickr/AK Rockefeller
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Safety Still No Closer for People in Offshore Detention 

Over the weekend, we learnt that Malcolm Turnbull has once again turned down an offer from New Zealand to resettle some of the people detained on Manus and Nauru, preferring instead to pursue the possibility of US resettlement. Since Donald Trump's inauguration, however, the US resettlement deal has been cast into serious doubt following a series of conflicting announcements from the new administration. 

For the women, men and children whose futures are at stake, the stalling serves to prolong their agony. "Eaten Fish", a cartoonist detained on Manus, recently went on hunger strike for 19 days to protest against the treatment that he and other detainees have been subjected to, with serious consequences for his physical and mental health. 

In addition to the ongoing and prolonged insecurity, those detained have also been facing increased threats of deportation in recent weeks, with the Australian Government reportedly offering large sums of cash for people to return home, and threatening forced deportations to those who refuse to comply. 

Meanwhile, dozens of people seeking asylum have fled the US into Canada, leading many to question the safety of US resettlement for people whose nationalities the new President has sought to ban from entering the country. The Refugee Council of Australia has published an open statement calling for immediate evacuation of the camps, which has now been signed by over 170 organisations.  Thousands more have joined the call for #SafetyForAll people seeking asylum and refugees.  
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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Today's the Day: Refugee Alternatives Conference

We at RCOA are very excited about the first ever Refugee Alternatives Conference, hosted in conjunction with UNSW. 

The Conference, which launched today, has brought together hundreds of people from different refugee backgrounds, organisations, institutions, communities, academics, advocates and experts and included keynote speeches from Munjed Al Muderis and Gillian Triggs. 

The Conference is generously supported by principal sponsors Grand Challenges UNSW and Colin Biggars & Paisley Foundation, in addition to sponsors Australian Migrant Resource Centre, Australian Red Cross, Curtin University, Liverpool City Council, Marist 180, STARTTS and partner Settlement Services International. 
Become a Refugee Champion
Now more than ever, your voice as a regular supporter can help to change lives and contribute to fair and just outcomes for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. Regular monthly giving is easy to do and will enable RCOA to work on long-term solutions and continue to be a reasoned voice in the national public debate. Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis, himself a Refugee Champion, said: 
“Every single day, Australian communities benefit from the contribution of refugees like me and RCOA is working to find more humane solutions to issues facing refugees and asylum seekers through every aspect of their work. I am so grateful to the Refugee Council of Australia for supporting me when I came to Australia as a refugee. I am so proud to be a Refugee Champion and member of the Refugee Council of Australia"
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Submission into proposed Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation Project
RCOA made a submission to the inquiry on the Proposed Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation Project in Broadmeadows, Victoria.  The submission expresses a number of concerns including the co-location of high and low risk people; the balance between low and high security compounds; the impacts of hardening the detention facility; and outdoor space.  It also makes 3 key recommendations.  Click the above link to read the full submission.

Walk for people seeking asylum
25 February, Lismore
Join The Northern Rivers Peace Group and Lismore Amnesty in walking to honour the deaths in custody of people seeking asylum that were held in detention on Manus lsland and Nauru.

Community meeting on citizenship delays
25 February, Melbourne
This event is held by RCOA in partnership with Julian Hill MP and the Omid Cultural Association, to discuss delays in citizenship applications and the recent Federal Court decision.

Refugee Talent: Speed-dating
14 March, Melbourne
Refugee Talent is a social enterprise and online platform matching refugees looking for work with companies offering work opportunities. At this speed dating event, companies will have the opportunity to meet refugee talent, hailing from a range of industries and backgrounds.

Rumi: In our own voices
25 March, Adelaide
The stories of people, cultures, and ideas from the middle east. A celebration of poetry, music, dance and story telling.

#FairGo picnics
Ongoing, nationwide
Join us in hosting a picnic or other fun event to show your support for refugee family reunion. Click the above link to find out more and register yours.

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

Job openings at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Various positions are open at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.  They encourage talented people who share their vision, from all backgrounds, abilities and identities to apply.

Volunteer with Diaspora Action Australia
Diaspora Action Australia’s team is committed to peace, development, and the protection of people’s human rights.They are looking for skilled volunteers in a number of roles who are passionate about our work to support diaspora community organisations.

UNHCR internships
In undertaking an internship with the Legal Protection Unit, you are provided with the opportunity to gain practical legal work experience and the unique opportunity to contribute to the work of the United Nations.

For more opportunities or to submit an opportunity, see our employment page.

National and regional
Lawyers to argue Manus Island detention is false imprisonment
Poll: Most agree keeping refugees in offshore detention is cruel
Peter Dutton: Nauru, Manus refugees to be moved in the 'next couple of months'
Scholarship recipients look to bright future
Donald Trump's Australia


Canada to bring in 1,200 primarily Yazidi refugees by the end of the year
New Swiss scheme offers apprenticeships to people seeking asylum
Pope slams 'populist rhetoric' against refugees

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