Despair over fresh crackdown on asylum seekers

‘Draconian and dangerous’: Despair over fresh crackdown on asylum seekers

Michael Koziol in the SMH – 26 February 2017

Asylum seekers have been told they will lose their welfare payments, bridging visas and right to seek asylum unless they urgently submit applications for protection, as the Turnbull government cracks down on the “legacy caseload” of boat arrivals.

The Department of Immigration has begun issuing warning notices to hundreds of the approximately 12,000 asylum seekers in the community who came to Australia by boat prior to July 2013 but are yet to make applications for refugee status.

Asylum seekers who failed to respond to the 60-day warning are now being told their payments are being ceased and that if they do not apply in 14 days, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton may rescind their right to make an asylum claim in Australia.

Read the full article here

How Australia decides who is a genuine refugee

Explainer: How Australia decides who is a genuine refugee

Mary Anne Kenny in The Conversation – 23 Feb 2017

Every year, Australia provides protection to thousands of refugees under its humanitarian program. In 2015-16, the government issued 15,552 visas to people in need of humanitarian assistance overseas. These included people determined to be refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in camps outside Australia.

A further 2,003 people received “onshore” permanent protection visas after being found to be refugees by the Australian government.

The term “genuine refugee” is thrown around often, yet many take for granted the complicated process of how someone is deemed to be one. So, what is a refugee? And how does the Australian government make the decision?

Read the full article here

RCOA: State of the Nation 2017

State of the Nation 2017: Refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia


The world is in the midst of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Yet Australia’s approach in recent years has been to punish people seeking asylum, while increasing the numbers of refugees it resettles. This contrasting approach threatens the long and proud history Australia has of successful integration of refugee communities.

This report reflects what we have heard from refugees and people seeking asylum, and the people supporting them. We thank all of the people who contributed to this report.

Read the full report here


Australia to allow UN inspections of onshore detention centres

Australia to allow UN inspections of onshore detention centres

The Turnbull government has pledged to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). This will allow UN inspectors ‘unrestricted access’ to enter ‘any prison or place in Australia where people are deprived of their liberty’. Ratifying OPCAT will also require Australia to establish a system of inspections to monitor all places of detention within Australia. There has been some debate over whether these obligations extend to offshore detention facilities in Manus Island and Nauru.

from 2016: No Business In Abuse



No Business In Abuse is a movement of people who want corporations to know they face a choice: engage in Australia’s abusive detention regime or maintain a profitable business model.

Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield Services) and Wilson Security are the two corporations that provide services central to the detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. Together they’re paid billions by the government – but they rely on other income streams as well, including contracts with local councils all around Australia.

Without contracts like these, their business model would fall apart – and that’s where you come in.

By organising and applying strategic local pressure, we can get our councils to say they won’t further contract with Broadspectrum and Wilson while they’re involved in detention. This way, their choice to be complicit in human rights abuses has immediate consequences for the rest of their business.

Are you in? Search for your nearest petition here

GetUp- No Abuse   Shen Narayanasamy is the new Human Rights Director at GetUp.

Let’s help Shen end business in abuse.  Click here to read more:

UN: ‘horrors’ inflicted on Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

United Nations reports ‘horrors’ inflicted on Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

Lindsay Murdoch – SMH – FEBRUARY 5 2017

The Kutapalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. More than 65,000 Rohingya have fled across the ...

Soldiers dragged a pregnant woman who was in labour out of her house in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state and smashed her stomach with a stick.

“They killed the baby by stomping on it with heavy boots. Then they burned the house,” a 19-year-old woman witness told United Nations investigators.

Five soldiers were taking turns to rape a 25-year-old woman after they had butchered her husband with a knife, when her eight-month-old son started crying because he was hungry and wanted to be breast-fed.

“To silence him they killed him too with a knife,” the 19-year-old testified.

A five-year-old girl ran screaming to try to protect her mother as she was being gang raped, when one of the rapists pulled out a long knife and slit the child’s throat.

“I thought I would die but I survived,” the mother told investigators.

Read the full article here


Refugee movement comes together to call for immediate evacuation of offshore camps

Refugee movement comes together to call for immediate evacuation of offshore camps

In an unprecedented move, over 70 organisations from across the country, led by the Refugee Council of Australia, have come together to call for an immediate evacuation of the offshore detention camps. 

The joint statement comes after a week of chaos regarding the possibility of a US resettlement deal, with Donald Trump’s administration (and Twitter account) releasing multiple conflicting statements regarding the fate of the hundreds of men, women and children trapped in limbo. Many of the people imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru are from countries currently excluded from entering the US under Trump’s travel ban.

Although Malcolm Turnbull maintains that the deal is still on, it was revealed this week that there is no minimum requirement of people to be accepted. As such, the deal could technically go ahead without a single person being resettled. 

This uncertainty has caused unthinkable mental anguish to those trapped on Nauru and Manus. These people have already endured physical and sexual abuse, torture and trauma and many have taken, or attempted to take, their own lives.  Directly after the announcement of the travel ban, one teenager tragically attempted suicide. 

It’s high time that this race to the bottom ended.  People’s lives are at stake.

How can you help?

1. We’re bringing the movement together on this because immediate action needs to be taken.  We need your support in order to continue this crucial work. Please consider donating whatever you can here. 

2. Join us in calling for the immediate evacuation of these cruel camps by adding your voice.

Read the statement
Support our work
Join the call for #SafetyForAll

Malcolm Turnbull should walk away from US refugee deal

Malcolm Turnbull should walk away from US refugee deal

Michelle Grattan – The Conversation – 2 Feb 2017

It’s the last thing Malcolm Turnbull would want to do, or will do. But what he should do is walk away from the deal he struck with the Obama administration for the US to take refugees from Nauru and Manus Island.

He should then persuade his cabinet to grant a one-off amnesty, and let these people settle in Australia.

It would be a drastic and, for many in the government, a deeply unpalatable course. But the road Turnbull now has Australia travelling – that of the supplicant – is against our national interest. It’s one that sees the unpredictable Donald Trump treating the US’s close ally with near contempt, one that makes the Australian prime minister hostage to the US president’s capricious behaviour.

Read full article here

RCOA calls for immediate action on offshore detention

Open statement calling for immediate action on offshore detention

3 February 2017

We, as a coalition of organisations and community groups from around Australia, are writing to express our concern regarding the humanitarian crisis that Australia has created.

Successive Australian governments have managed and funded offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The people detained there are clearly Australia’s responsibility. This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken.

Beyond the reports of physical and sexual abuse, including of children; inadequate medical attention; suicides and attempted suicides; even a murder; the extinguishment of hope has pushed people to the edge.

Many of these people have been recognised as refugees. We owe them protection and safety now.

Meanwhile, politicians are spending years engaged in lengthy negotiations as to the fate of these men, women and children. With the US resettlement deal in serious doubt, the most obvious and humane solution is to clear the camps and bring these people to Australia until a safe long term, appropriate outcome for them can be guaranteed.

We do not have years. Australia cannot allow another person to die or suffer because of our actions.

This is a crisis. We are calling on both major parties to form a bipartisan commitment to immediately evacuate the camps and bring these people to safety.


The Refugee Council of Australia
Academics for Refugees
ActionAid Australia
Amnesty International Australia
APS Refugee Issues and Psychology Interest Group
Asylum Circle
Asylum Seeker Advocacy Group
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
Australian Council of Social Service
Australian Council of Trade Unions
Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS)
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru
Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group
Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project
Campaign for Australian Aid – Up To Us
Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum
Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees
Children Out of Immigration Detention (ChilOut)
Doctors for Refugees
Free the Children Nauru
Human Rights for All Pty Ltd
Human Rights Law Centre
Human Rights Watch
Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy
Independent Education Union of Australia
International Alliance Against Mandatory Detention
Jubilee Australia
Labor for Refugees
Liberty Victoria
Love Makes A Way
Melbourne Catholic Migrant & Refugee Office
Mums 4 Refugees
New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties
Oxfam Australia
Pax Christi Queensland
People Just Like Us
Plan International Australia
Queensland Council of Unions
Queensland Nurses’ Union
Queensland Teachers’ Union
Refugee Action Coalition
Refugee Action Network Newcastle
Refugee Advice & Casework Service
Refugee Advocacy Network
RESULTS International Australia
Rural Australians for Refugees
Save the Children Australia
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council
St.Macartan’s Social Justice Group Mornington
Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney
Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support
Teachers For Refugees
Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia
The Australia Institute
The Bayside Refugee Advocacy and Support Association
The Catholic Justice Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane
The National Justice Project
Together Branch of the ASU
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA
Uniting Church in Australia
Uniting Church in South Australia
Victorian Council of Churches
Welcome to Australia
World Vision Australia

US will take up to 1,250 refugees under Aust deal

White House says US will take up to 1,250 refugees under Australian deal

Ben Doherty – The Guardian – 1 Feb 2017

Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer says Obama-era plan to take refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres is still in place, but with ‘extreme vetting

Image result for Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer

The US government has publicly said it will resettle up to 1,250 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention islands of Manus and Nauru, but stressed they will all undergo “extreme vetting” before being accepted.

Sean Spicer, White House spokesman for the new president, Donald Trump, confirmed the deal – brokered by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama – would be honoured, and for the first time, confirmed the number that could be accepted under the plan.

“The deal specifically deals with 1,250 people, they’re mostly in Papua New Guinea, being held,” Spicer told a White House briefing. “Those people, part of the deal, is that they have to be vetted in the manner that we’re doing now.

Read the full article here

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the US resettlement deal was a “bandaid solution” for Australia’s offshore processing problem.

“On the one hand we now have some detail on the deal that the Australian government has refused to release. But it is only 1,250 people, far short of what’s going to be needed to resettle the people on Nauru and Manus. This has raised as many questions as it’s answered.

“There will be many, many people left behind by the US resettlement deal, the ball is squarely in the Australian government’s court.”

Read the full article here