As a Nation…
Australia should
  • Receive asylum seekers in accordance with the humane standards set out in the United Nations Convention on Refugees which Australia signed in 1954.
  • Close all off-shore and remote detention centres and take full responsibility for processing asylum seeker claims here in Australia.
  • Rescind all current legislation that condones and even encourages human rights violations and establish a formal multi-party parliamentary committee to draft refugee and asylum seeker policies that will gain bipartisan support.
  • Do more to improve public understanding of the plight of asylum seeker issues and to dispel common myths.
  • Provide orientation, training and support to urban and rural communities willing to assist refugees with accommodation and employment.
In our Region…..
Australia should:
  • Work with our Asia Pacific neighbors to find co-operative and non-punitive solutions to the flow of refugees into and through the region.
  • Ensure that countries currently hosting disproportionate numbers of refugees are given appropriate support.
In the Global contest…
Australia should:
  • Use its position on the United Nations Security Council.
  • Seek a world -wide increase in aid for refugees.
  • Seek to influence oppressive governments who are persecuting their minority groups.
Rural Australians for Refugees calls on the Australian Government to seek solutions at a global, regional and national level to address the international asylum seeker and refugee crisis.


Rural Australians for Refugees – RAR

The pro-refugee network is a vast mosaic of overlapping networks: lawyers, church people, human-rights advocates, welfare workers, political activists and ordinary people; from highly skilled professionals with specific expertise to the many thousands who have joined a grassroots movement striving to return compassion and humanity to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.

One strand in this network is – Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR), an informal network of regional groups supporting and advocating for refugees and people seeking asylum.

The RAR Executive Team


President-Marie Sellstrom

Marie has been a life long worker for social justice.  Besides the achievement of the ten RAR National objectives, Marie would like to see more men and young people in RAR, as well as growth in South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.  She lives in Merrijig in Victoria’s high country.

Vice President-Ruth Fluhr

As a second language educator, Ruth has worked with a wide range of people from many places in the globe – migrants, refugees and international students. Ruth lives in the Strathbogie Tableland in northeast Victoria.


Secretary-Penny Egan-Vine

Penny has had an extensive medical career. Since 1997 she has been working in a refugee sponsorship program through the Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group, and in supporting schools for refugees in Africa.  Penny lives in Albury-Wodonga.

Treasurer-Margaret Rasa

Margaret has been a bureaucrat in Australia and overseas on refugee issues.  As a community campaigner she is passionate about the wisdom of communities and the power of people to bring about change for good.  She lives in Castlemaine, Victoria.



Immediate past convenor of RAR-Jan Govett

After many years steering RAR to prominence Jan is now the champion of the Welcome Scroll.  This is a register of local government councils who have ratified their shires as Refugee Welcome Zones.  Jan is currently travelling Australia with the scroll visiting councils who have signed the Welcome Declaration.

The RAR Social Media Convenor

Zali Nash is writer,  and social media marketer and teacher and a brilliant leader of the RAR Social Media team. She is a passionate advocate for refugees and asylum seekers. She lives in the Macedon Ranges surrounded by family, animals and beauty.

Read more About RAR here…



History of RAR

Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) was launched in a number of NSW towns in 2001 with public meetings (in Bowral and in Armidale). RAR members took to the streets and shopping centres of their local towns to hand out leaflets and discuss the issues.

Further public meetings were held in Cootamundra and Lismore. Groups were launched in Orange and Goulburn. RAR spread to Victoria, and then to other states.

The growth of RAR is a refreshing reminder that progressive-minded and humanitarian people are as likely to live in small towns and regional Australia as they are in the cities.

There are hundreds of people in rural Australia, ordinary people, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, whose concern has catapulted them into activism, many of them for the first time in their lives.

RAR Reborn –

Message from Anne Coombs, Helen McCue, Susan Varga – Co-founders of RAR in 2001

As the convenors of the original Rural Australians for Refugees, which began in 2001, we are absolutely delighted to hear that key Victorian groups are working together to re-invigorate RAR.

This move will hopefully get the national network happening again at a time that couldn’t be more crucial for refugees and asylum seekers.

One of the great strengths of RAR was to bring together people of like minds but from often very different backgrounds, and to give them the opportunity to work for refugees in whatever way suited them.

Another key strength was giving a voice to rural people – a voice that wasn’t expected by politicians or people in the cities.

There is a new surge of activism around this issue ready to be harnessed. People have been missing RAR and its unique voice.

We are confident that the experienced and enthusiastic activists in central Victoria are the right people to get RAR back into the national debate.

December 2014

RAR Today –

  • Aims to raise public awareness of the issues involving asylum seekers and refugees
  • Writes letters to newspapers and politicians
  • Meets members of parliament to challenge inhumane policies
  • Provides practical help to local refugees
  • Fundraises for asylum seekers and refugees
  • Attends rallies and vigils

We invite you to consider how you might work with us

  • Join one of the Refugee and Asylum Seeker support groups.  There are many RAR groups, community groups, church groups working to improve the lives of Asylum Seekers and Refugees
  • Engage in Fundraising,  Awareness- raising, and/or  Advocacy
  • If there is no group near you, consider starting one
  • Visit Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Detention Centres
  • Letter Writing – to Politicians – MPs Addresses   Senators Addresses
  • Visit our Facebook Page – Rural Australians for Refugees

Want to have your Asylum Seeker or Refugee Support group listed on our website?  

Send details to RAR Admin –


Do you remember the 2002 ‘Mudgee Muster’ …  the First RAR National Conference

On 7 and 8 December 2002 in Mudgee NSW,  Rural Australians for Refugees had its first National Conference.

2002 RAR Report: The Marvelous Mudgee Muster

  • Dear All – especially those who couldn’t make it to Mudgee!
  • The first annual RAR Get-Together was a fabulous event, successful beyond our wildest dreams.
  • We all went home energised, excited – and tired out from an intense and fulfilling day-and-a-half together. Our heartfelt thanks to Mudgee RAR who dreamed up the idea,  mid-wifed it and then staged the actual event without a flaw.
  • And thank you to the 150 plus participants who turned up from as far afield as Narrogin in WA, Goodiwindi in Queensland and Port Augusta in SA,  and a couple of dozen RARs in between.