Saturday, 22 December 2018

I can't help wondering!

BRAD CHILCOTT. Refugees and the ALP Conference.

On Monday night, late in the evening after Labor’s national conference had debated asylum seeker and refugee policy, I sat at a bar with a mix of refugee advocates, conference delegates like myself, people seeking asylum and refugees. 

In the lead-up to and during a Conference that determines the future policy and practice of a party that looks like forming government, it’s easy to lose focus; to get caught up in the public campaigning, the private lobbying, the inter-factional negotiations and the horse-trading; to calculate what can be won that will move policy in the right direction for the lives of those who need change most and what we know will be lost.

But when you sit with someone directly impacted – either helped or further harmed – by the results of these negotiations, the platform chapters, paragraphs, amendments and ballot results become people and even the policy “wins” are revealed to have greater complexity as people interpret the careful political framing through the lens of their own experience.
The Labor Party’s platform, if implemented in government, would significantly change the lives of many thousands of people over time. Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) will be abolished and those who’ve lived, worked, established businesses, studied and raised children in our community with the constant fear that it might all come to an end in a couple of years will be able to move to permanent visas. My friends on SHEVs  wonder how long they will need to wait for citizenship – they’ve been here for more than six years, contributing, employing people, paying taxes – will they need be on their new permanent visas for one year or another four before they can finally call Australia home?

The coalition of advocacy and settlement organisations that has been campaigning for a better Community Refugee Sponsorship program than the current Liberal Government model had a big win – Labor in government would establish a community refugee sponsorship program based on the successful Canadian model and, instead of being a cost-saving measure like the current program, every person sponsored to be welcomed in Australia will be additional to the humanitarian intake. Shadow Minister Shayne Neumann announced that there will be 5,000 annual places for this program – on top of 27,000 annual humanitarian places – meaning that 32,000 people a year will find safety, peace and belonging in Australia if the government changes at the next election. 

My friend on a bridging visa, who came by boat as an unaccompanied child, wonders how this will benefit his family who he hasn’t seen now for many years. Will someone be able to sponsor them to join him in Australia? Will the ban on family reunion visas for relatives of those who came by boat by lifted? Will they have to join the massive waiting list? Surely family reunion should be on top of the 32,000 people, he argues, because my family needs to be safe but it shouldn’t mean someone else can’t find safety too? Perhaps, he wonders, when I am a citizen it will be easier to bring them here. He doesn’t want to wait that long, his younger siblings barely recognise him.

The ALP Platform now includes the policy foundation for the Medical Transfers Bill that caused Prime Minister Morrison shut down Parliament early so he could avoid it becoming law. Labor in government would restore income, housing and medical support to people seeking asylum living in the Australian community. Bill Shorten announced $500m in financial support for the UNHCR in our region, to establish safe pathways for people seeking refuge and to support them while they await resettlement in Indonesia or other nations. Labor promised to empty Manus and Nauru detention centres and committed to accepting New Zealand’s offer of welcoming hundreds of the people languishing in both places.

Importantly, the conference also agreed to abolish the unfair “fast-track” assessment process for people seeking asylum. Not only is “fast-track” a laughable misnomer, it is also an unfair process that has seen thousands of people seeking asylum have their claims for refugee status rejected. Some have been sent into danger, others have lost their lives, others remain in limbo in the Australian community without any clear hope for re-establishing their lives. 

However, the push led by Labor MPs Andrew Giles and Ged Kearney to have assessments rejected under the fast-track process reviewed lost a vote on conference floor – leaving up to 6,000 people who did not have the privilege of fair process to suffer the life-shattering consequences of rejection. 

My friend on a bridging visa – who hasn’t had his first refugee assessment interview despite arriving more than five years ago – is glad to hear of these changes. But he wonders what an incoming Labor government would do about the people who’ve been appointed by the Liberal government to the review body, the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA), for seven years. From his perspective, the IAA has been stacked to ensure as many rejections as possible. He wants to know how Labor will ensure a fair process when those who run the process are not fair? Statistics suggest he might be right – only 12% of cases are sent back to Home Affairs because of an incorrect decision. 

Sitting at the bar, I’m reminded again that no matter how emotionally or politically invested I am in creating a just, fair and welcoming Australia for people seeking asylum and refugees – I get to go home to my family. My citizenship or safety is not at risk. For the people who’ve suffered at Australia’s hands after fleeing from the violence and insecurity of their home country, the uncertainty continues. There’s hope about a new regime if Labor wins government – but also deep suspicion that their Kafka-esque experience will continue just with new names on the doors of power, and in the footers of the letters they receive from Home Affairs. 

Brad Chilcott is Founder, Welcome to Australia.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Labor vows to abolish temporary protection visas 

Published: 11 December 2018 

More than 10,000 asylum-seekers who arrived in Australia under the border policies of the Rudd and Gillard governments would be given a pathway to citizenship under a Shorten government. Source: The Australian.

The pledge to end Labor’s boat arrivals hangover by offering the remaining asylum-seekers permanent residency through the abolition of temporary protection visa system came as The Australian established that the cost of managing the ongoing caseload of applicants had reached more than $2 billion.

Figures obtained by The Australian through the Department of Home Affairs showed that, at the end of last month, 10,600 asylum-seeker cases, of the 30,000 inherited by the Coalition in 2013, remained pending.

Bill Shorten’s office said that under the Opposition Leader’s policy, which is expected to be reconfirmed at next week’s ALP national conference in Adelaide, the “legacy caseload” of asylum-seekers would be granted permanent protection under a Labor government. This would give immediate permanent residency with full work and welfare rights to the remaining asylum-seekers, regarded by the Morrison Government as illegal arrivals because they travelled by boat.

It would also end the last remnants of Labor’s 2008 policy.

“We’ll have our national conference; I am determined that the people-smugglers don’t get back into business,” Mr Shorten said.

“We will work as the government has to maintain strong borders; turning boats back where it is safe to do so; we are committed to regional processing, full stop. But what I also believe is that, after five-plus years, this government should have done more to resettle people elsewhere around the world than they have, and that’s what we’ll do.

The government says TPVs were a vital deterrent in stopping people-smuggling operations and preventing them from restarting. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the cost of the legacy caseload would keep growing with a third of the outstanding cases since 2013 still to be processed.

“Labor’s reckless border failures have cost our country dearly,” Mr Dutton said. “Cleaning up the dreadful mess of 50,000 illegal arrivals is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and will for years to come.”


Labor’s asylum vow: you can stay (The Australian

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Music evening raises $2000 for the Romero Centre!

Thanks to everyone who so generously supported R4R's music event on Saturday evening. The wonderful evening of music raised $2000 for the Romero Centre in Brisbane. This much needed donation will support refugees and people seeking asylum as they struggle to survive in our communities. 

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Musical Evening - 24 November

RSVP 20/11/18:  Lyn Moore 0407143689 or email

Thursday, 12 July 2018

With empty hands: How the Australian Government is forcing people seeking
asylum into destitution

Refugee Council of Australia

 This report tells the story of over 30,000 people seeking asylum in Australia, and the Australian Government has, in various ways, denied them access to work, study, income and much-needed health services.

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane
In this document attention is drawn to the growing number of families and individuals facing destitution in our community. The document explains in a straight forward way who refugees and people seeking asylum are and their legal status. It invites parishes to become a sanctuary for refugees and people seeking asylum.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Film and Q&A with Julian Burnside

New film screening with a Q and A from Julian Burnside, Human Rights Barrister 


New Farm Cinema 

July 3rd 7pm. 

Limited seating.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

R4R Meeting  


14 June 

6.30pm for 7.00pm. 

Trinity Uniting Church 
47- 49 Malborough Rd, Wellington Point

There is always a great deal of activity within our group and amongst the many groups supporting refugees and people seeking asylum.  Come along to the June meeting to share your news and hear what is happening.

Come early for a cuppa - Everyone is welcome. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

Community Action Workshop - Springwood

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Islamic Women's
Association of Australia, AMARAH and Australian Association
of Social Workers - Qld Branch warmly invite all refugee sector
employees, volunteers and community supporters to a
Community Action Workshop to be held on Friday 1 June in
Springwood, Logan.

This workshop will introduce the tools and strategies to have
value-based conversations with family, friends and people of
influence about the issues impacting people seeking asylum.
It will also be a chance to meet like-minded people who may want
to take a collective approach in your area.
The content of the workshop draws on the findings of our groundbreaking
‘Words That Work’ messaging research, which found more
effective ways of communicating about the rights of people seeking

By working together, we can transform the way our community
thinks about people seeking asylum. It's time to get the
conversation towards a shared future on the #RightTrack. We look
forward to seeing you there!

This workshop may qualify as Continuous Professional
Development for attendees.

Date: Friday 1 June

Start time: 10.15am for a 10.30am start

Finish time: 1pm (followed by lunch until 1.30pm)

Islamic Women's Association of Australia, Queensland
11 Watland St
Springwood Qld

RSVP by: 5pm Wednesday 30 May 2018 for catering purposes via
this link:

Email: with any special dietary

Cost: free event

CPD: this event may qualify as CPD for attendees.

For more information, please contact Michelle McDonald
(NB: Lunch will be provided - vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free

options available)

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Martin Luther King's Legacy

A special presentation by Noel Preston
(Free event)

Noel Preston will be giving a special presentation on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Martin Luther King - What is his legacy?  

Monday April 23 at 7pm  
St Matt’s Anglican  Church
Holland Park
cnr Logan Rd and Swain St 

Bookings essential

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The April Meeting is on this Thursday 

12 April 

6.30pm for 7.00pm. 

Trinity Uniting Church 
47- 49 Malborough Rd, Wellington Point

Come early for a cuppa - Everyone is welcome. 

Monday, 26 February 2018

R4R Meeting 
March 8th 2018 
7.00 pm (6.30 cuppa and catch up)
Trinity Uniting Church 
47- 49 Malborough Rd, Wellington Point
All welcome!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Fair go for refugees 
and people seeking asylum
Open Community Forum 
Saturday 17 March 2018
13.30 - 16.30 
Lourdes Hill College

All community members are welcome to attend an 'Open Community Forum: Fair go for refugees and people seeking asylum' event, hosted by Amnesty International, Oxfam Australia, Mums 4 Refugees and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

When people seek asylum, they, like all of us, need a home where they can live in freedom and safety. If any of us found ourselves vulnerable or in danger, we’d like to know that we could seek help and a safe place.

Successive Federal Governments have chosen to implement policies that deny the rights of people seeking asylum to a fair, transparent, accountable and timely assessment process.

As a result, many people are living in ‘limbo’ in our communities and in detention centres or faced with the threat of being forcibly returned to harm by our Government.

The forum will discuss the current situation of refugees and people seeking asylum, and the role of community members to get on the #RightTrack, in a constructive and solutions-focused way. #RightTrack is a grassroots, community owned and led national movement resourced by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
All community members are welcome to attend. Please bring along a friend or family member who is interested in finding out more.

Speakers and Q&A panellists:
Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM (CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre)

Mojgan Shamsalipoor (Young woman seeking safety in Australia)
with Jessica Walker (Convenor of Teachers For Refugees and People Seeking Asylum)

Pemba Amuri (Community Engagement and Organising Manager at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, refugee, Congolese pro-democracy activist)

Sally Dodds (Queensland Convenor of Mums 4 Refugees)

Additional speakers:
Rebecca Buttenshaw (Activism Support Coordinator for Amnesty International)
Emily Dowling (Community Campaigner for Oxfam Australia)

Following the speeches, an open Q&A session will be held for community members to ask the expert panel any questions they may have.

After the forum, refreshments will be available until 5.30pm.

For more information on the event: please email

Event details:

Saturday 17 March 2018

Arrive: 1.30pm for 2.00pm start
Finish: Forum finishes at 4.30pm, followed by refreshments until 5.30pm

Polding Theatre
Lourdes Hill College
86 Hawthorne Rd, Hawthorne
Walk through Gate 1

Street parking only
Limited onsite parking available for people who use wheelchairs (please RSVP ahead of time to reserve your spot)

Public transport:
Bus stops outside the school

Free event

RSVP by 5.00pm Wednesday 14 March for catering purposes via one of the following:
(Please don't RSVP via Facebook)

Special requirements:
Please advise of any dietary needs or wheelchair parking needs by 5.00pm Wednesday 14 March.

Event hosted by: Amnesty International, Oxfam Australia, Mums 4 Refugees and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Event endorsed by: Refugee Council of Australia, Brisbane Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support (BRASS) Network, Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, Romero Centre, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, Australian Association of Social Workers – Qld Branch, Doctors 4 Refugees, Asylum Circle/Communify, World Wellness Group, Love Makes A Way, Refugee Association of Logan, Unions 4 Refugees, Pax Christi International Peace Movement (Queensland), Buddies, Refugee Connect, Brisbane West Senior Citizens Centre, Refugee Action Collective.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Songs of Hope & Healing ft. Isaiah

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Songs of Hope & Healing ft. Isaiah

Tuesday, March 27 2018

Songs of Hope and Healing is a special benefit concert to raise funds for the Friends of HEAL Foundation (FHEAL), which provides creative arts therapy in schools to young people of refugee backgrounds.

For one night only on Tuesday, 27 March 2018, QPAC's Concert Hall will resonate with the sounds of Eurovision Song Contest 2017 Finalist Isaiah, as well as performances from Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber OrchestraTenzin ChoegyalHoang PhamPercussimoThe BoxtiesVoices of BirraleeQueensland Conservatorium BrassQPAC ChoirChildren’s Health Qld Community Choir and FHEAL Community Choir.
Supporting a cause that's close to home – and close to heart – Songs of Hope and Healing promises to be the 'FHEAL-good' family concert of the year.

Contact Lyn Moore if you would like to join the R4R group or simply follow the link below to purchase your own tickets from QPAC.