NOVEMBER 2020 – SYLVIA and PETER JONES
This month we nominate Sylvia and Peter Jones as the RAR Unsung Heroes. Peter and Sylvia are members of Redlands for Refugees, and the Brisbane On Arrival Support Group. This couple has supported refugees in the Brisbane community for over 18 years.
DETENTION support: They were regular visitors to BITA (immigration detention centre), up to 5 times a week, with up to 10 people visited. Peter prayer walks around the Kangaroo Point APOD regularly and will try to get the men’s attention to let them know someone is thinking of them. They visit people who have been held in community detention, providing practical help with official letters, food packages, getting to know their local area and where their culture food shops are, how to use public transport apps, and where to go for buses. This can include providing clothing and other essential needs, and sourcing bicycles so people can get around their area.
Housing: Sylvia and Peter have often taken refugees into their home to live while they get established. Being in their home means there is time to listen to their hopes and fears for the future. It is a ‘safe place’ for refugees to share some of their trauma. “Even our little dogs have had tears and heartaches shared with them. A refugee can cuddle a dog to ease an aching void of the family” Sylvia says. “It a privilege to have them share our home as we teach them Aussie ways and enrich our lives with their experiences and cooking”.
Practical help: These two heroes are constantly providing support. To look for jobs – helping with resumes, how to use job sites to find work. Helping with visa issues. Keeping in contact with refugees to encourage them to use services for housing and financial help. Repairing laptops and phones and seeking out donations of these where needed.
Networking and advocacy: They play a role in networking with groups to help with information and maintaining data records. Peter’s detail about what’s happening with specific people is an invaluable asset on the Brisbane On Arrival Support Group. Then there is the constant action of writing to politicians advocating for better things for refugees.
Sylvia and Peter write: “Our grandchildren have expanded their horizons with the influence of refugees in our home. We are all richer for their company. Sometimes it has been really hard going because of mental trauma etc but other times, it is well worth it. “
With these words, these two heroes sum up what is the experience of so many people like them, who work tirelessly for years, to provide practical, financial and emotional support to refugees. It is a two-way street, both giving and receiving. Thank you, Sylvia and Peter. You represent thousands of others, and in that spirit, we are proud to have you as our November Unsung Heroes.
In response to the false information being circulated about #medevac health information. Here is accurate information, from parliament: