Monthly Archives: February 2013

RISE Exclusive Media release: Calls for urgent Intervention into Rohingya refugees detained in Thailand (27/2/2012)

RISE: Refugees, survivors and ex-detainees is the first organisation in Australia governed and run by members of the refugee and asylum seeker community in Australia. Our organisation consists of more than 200 members from over 30 communities in Australia. Among them are members of the Rohingya community in Australia. We have sent a request letter to Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra on 20 Feb 2013, calling for urgent intervention on the matter of Rohingya refugees in Thailand.

Due to ongoing genocidal attacks against the Rohingya people and additional contributing factors to their confinement and starvation by local authorities and the central government in Myanmar, the number of Rohingya people fleeing by boat has increased in the last few months.  Boats landing in southern Thailand have increased to more than 2000 although the official estimate is only about 1700 from January 2013.

RISE is therefore shocked to hear about cases of severely traumatised and oppressed Rohingya refugee survivors who have been subjected to further trauma after being arrested in Thailand in the past weeks as they have arrived in the south of Thailand.

RISE is also shocked by the human trafficking measures used against the Rohingya refugees during such a humanitarian crisis. It should be noted that currently, trafficking out of Rohingya is the only alternative to persecution for Rohingya people.

RISE has received news from reliable sources, that these Rohingya men, women and children have been separated and sent to more than 20 different locations, made up mostly of Immigration Detention Centres (IDC) in Thailand.  UNHCR pays regular visits to these refugees, but are yet to conduct refugee processing and determination of their status.

While Thai NGOs and governmental organisations are now providing food and other necessities there is still a huge shortfall in provision of services.  Rohingya women and children placed in community-based social centres, still face a lack of adequate amenities and wash-rooms. Meanwhile, the Rohingya men held separately, in Thai IDCs are subject to overcrowding and confinement – conditions which can have serious health implications.

RISE welcomes the Thai national human rights commission (NHRC) for greater advocacy work for the rights of Rohingya as well as recent humanitarian steps taken by the Yingluck government regarding some newly arrived Rohingya boat arrivals.  However, while the Thai Immigration Act regards Rohingya refugee migrants as illegal, RISE wishes to call upon all parties concerned to take appropriate measures to end this crisis.

RISE strongly recommends that the UNHCR regularise its process of recognition of persecuted de-facto stateless Rohingya refugees who face persecution due to their race and religion, and that the Australian government with other signatories to the UN refugee convention include this portion of refugees into its intake quota.

RISE Anti-Racism Training will begin in March 2013!

We’re here to say that – whether displayed online or on the street; whether through the cultural glass ceiling, or the systemic disadvantage experienced by our First Peoples – racism exists in Australia.
– Helen Szoke, Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission, 2012.

Through our own lived experiences and through the work we do in our communities, RISE has long recognised a need for anti-racism education that goes beyond individual-focused cultural awareness and tolerance-based training models to address the systemic and structured ways that racism manifests in our daily work and personal lives.

Starting in March 2013, RISE will be running  antiracism training for the staff and/or volunteers of organisations that service communities of colour.

We aim to provide participants with techniques to identify and combat racism within institutional, organisational and interpersonal settings. Workshops will be delivered in the Melbourne CBD.

For more information about the workshops, click here.

To view our training promo video featuring workshop presenters Gary Foley and Jayani Nadarajalingam, click here.*
*Please note, the dates for Session 2 have been changed to Wednesday 17 April and Thursday 18 April 2013.

To register online, click here

To download our registration form, click here.

IMPORTANT: Those who register before Friday 1 March 2013 will be eligible for our Early Bird registration fee of $100 for the full two-day session. Registrations after Friday 1 March will be $125 for the full two-day session.

If you would like further information, please contact us at

The new Australian Minister for Immigration Brendan O’Connor

The new Australian Minister for Immigration Brendan O’Connor is likely to fit quite smoothly into the new role of being Minister for Border Security aka “Immigration”.

In 2009, as the Minister of Home affairs, Brendan O’Connor attended an interpol meeting in Singapore and discussed measures to stop people smuggling with the Sri Lankan Defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Brendan O’Connor was quoted as unashamedly saying that the Australian Federal Police would support training for Sri Lankan police officers and provide logistical aid, such as computers, cameras and evidence collection kits:

The UN expert panel report in 2011 and media reports support the fact that there are credible allegations that crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed by the Sri Lankan security forces under the leadership of Gotabaya Rajapaksa

RISE Annual Report 2011/2012

Dear Supporter,
RISE is pleased to release its Annual Report for the 2012 financial year.
Over the past year, RISE continued to grow significantly.  Our growth included

–    expanding our services by setting up our Drop-In Centre;
–    installing a Resource Library;
–    installing a recording studio; and
–    expanding the Music and Arts portfolio with the running of the Cypher Hip Hop project and ReDefiant project.

Further, we are in the second year of our Resisting Racism Victoria project, the first of its kind in Victoria, which will see the running of anti-racism workshops in 2013 for staff/volunteers of organisations that service communities of colour. 

Pleasingly, while we have achieved growth, we have been able to successfully sustain our other services such as:

–    assist with winning unmerited cases;
–    assist a greater number of members with welfare assistance and accommodation; and
–    deliver the very popular driving project to our members that are located in over 100 suburbs.
The attached Annual Report highlights these achievements and also discusses the various projects that were run during the 2012 year.
While 2012 has been another successful year, 2013 will prove to be another challenging year.  With the Government bringing in the bridging visas which affords no work rights and barely any money to cover basic needs, we have already seen the number of new members coming to RISE increase dramatically in the last few months.  We are currently seeing over 270 plus members access RISE and the number will only continue to increase.  We have already responded by:

–    increasing our Food Bank capacity, including opening up a second location in the Western suburbs;
–    calling out for more volunteers to assist with our tutoring classes; and
–    we are currently working towards increasing our Support Services capacity.
We thank you for supporting RISE and hope you will continue to support RISE during these challenging times for refugees and asylum seekers.

Download our Annual Report here