DECEMBER 2020 – JAN GOVETT
This month we nominate JAN GOVETT as the RAR Unsung Hero for her contribution to national networking. Jan has also provided active leadership in several local groups including Bendigo RAR, Grandmothers for Refugees (Bendigo), Bendigo Amnesty Group, and is a member of Labor for Refugees.
Jan is a force of nature, in her determination, networking and advocacy skills and her
commitment to making changes to various Governments’ appalling treatment of refugees
and people seeking asylum. She works quietly and strategically. Here is but a glimpse of
her amazing contributions.
Jan became involved with the refugee movement when she was introduced to Victoria’s Maryborough RAR group, and saw the value of CVRSN, the Central Victorian Refugee Support Group. Encouraged by CVRSN, she set about finding and reinvigorating RAR groups across Australia, most of which had fallen away like other refugee rights groups after the significant gains for refugee rights with the election of the Rudd Labor government in 2007, when TPVs were abolished, and the offshore arrangements on Manus and Nauru were closed down. Jan used her ‘detective like’ networking capabilities to find the contacts for dormant RAR groups and gently inspired and nurtured them with her vision for a national RAR network. From 2103 to 2017, Jan single-handedly managed the new National RAR Network of 90 groups.
Urged by Jan, Bendigo RAR hosted a National RAR Conference in September 2016, the first since 2005. It was from this Conference that two projects were launched – the Welcome Scroll, and a new national refugee network.
Jan suggesting that there be a network to incorporate all grassroots refugee groups across Australia, (based on the RAR network model), and be simply called Australians for Refugees. So a 4-person working group was established, with Jan representing RAR, and a representative from 2 other key networks – the Refugee Advocacy Network (RAN), and the Combined Refugee Action Group (CRAG- Geelong) – and Canberra RAC.
The Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) held its Inaugural ARAN Conference six months later. It was at the ARAN Conference that a National RAR Committee was finally formed with Marie Sellstrom, Penny Vine, Margaret Rasa and Ruth Fluhr. Jan has served on both the ARAN and RAR National Committees.
Jan is also the driving force behind The Welcome Scroll Project and since 2016 has travelled to WA, SA, ACT, NSW and southern QLD to gather signatures from the Mayors of 127 local councils. The Welcome Scroll Project is a joint initiative of RAR, the Refugee Council and Refugee Welcome Zones to confirm Local Government commitment to welcome refugees into our communities. The scroll is now seven metres long with 127 signatures. It is huge! Next stop Tasmania!
The RAR National Committee, and the extensive network of RAR groups would not exist today without Jan’s vision, initiative and tireless work. There is no more fitting person to take up the December award for Unsung Hero than Jan. We thank you Jan, and hold you in our deepest respect and affection.
Jan is currently writing the history of RAR.
I recently heard someone from Amnesty International describe that an organisation as being made of “bricks and mortar” – the “bricks” being the people working in the community, and the “mortar” being the backroom people, the “glue” that holds the “bricks” together.
I feel enormous admiration for the people who are the “bricks” in our refugee movement, those who work directly with refugees and people seeking asylum, and see myself more as part of the “glue” – the glue that provides information, cohesion, and ultimately the strength of unity, to the national refugee movement.
In response to the false information being circulated about #medevac health information. Here is accurate information, from parliament: