Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Gillard government’s “No Advantage” policy and stopping families of refugees being reunited under the split family humanitarian visa category:

The government has implemented this policy after the Houston panel report (http://riserefugee.org/post/44741347237/exposed-refugee-expert-panel-recommendations) recommended that refugees who came by boat should not be allowed to apply to bring their immediate family to Australia through the split family humanitarian visa category to stop people coming by boat.

This policy has had a significantly detrimental effect on the well-being of, in particularly disabled members on protection visas.

Some reasons:

* The criteria that is used to grant a carer visa has tightened and has become more restrictive; our advocacy team was advised by two different migration agents that it can take about 15 years for a visa to be approved due to this.

* Many of the disabled members (for example with severe back injuries from torture) are unable to find steady work and cannot afford to pay the application fee to DIAC (over $3000) let alone a migration agent to apply for family sponsorship and cannot demonstrate that they have steady income to support their families (part of the criteria needed to be fullfilled in this visa category).

The cruel irony is that many of our members who are unable to cope due to the additional stress of not having their families to support them are referred to Foundation house one of the only available torture trauma counselling centres in Melbourne for counselling; the CEO of Foundation house, Mr. Paris Aristotle AM, was one of the “experts” on the panel who shamelessly made this recommendation to the government. This brings to full circle, the inhumane cycle of dependency and exploitation of our community by the so called “humanitarian” Refugee industry.

RISE, Somali Youth Reconnect and the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) present an evening of film, performance and discussion.

Refugee Day 7pm, Thursday 20 JUNE 20, State Library of Victoria

To mark Refugee Day on Thursday 20 June, RISE and the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) present an evening of film, performance and discussion at the State Library.

New Land, New Life brings together narratives of perseverance, struggle and triumphs direct from the community. The event is a space to hear, share, discuss and proudly acknowledge Australia’s refugee communities. 

The evening features a screening of New Life, New Land, a twenty minute documentary that tells inspiring stories of five refugees from the Horn of Africa who are making a new life in a new land. The three men and two women featured in the film have all achieved real success in their new lives.

The documentary narrates their struggle, successes and hopes for the future, using a brand of humor and emotion that reflects the lives these five local heroes have created for themselves.

RISE Art Director Tania says the event is like no other you will find on the refugee celebrations calendar.  “New Land, New Life comes direct from our refugee and migrant communities in a non-sensationalised manner. These are real people, real stories and real communities,” she said. 

The screening will be followed by live spoken word, theatre performances and a panel discussion with Director Abdi Malik Osman and two of the refugees featured in the film Deng Adut and Idil Abdullahi , plus guests. 

New Land, New Life is a RISE and ICV event.

Media contacts: Art Director Tania Canas 0400 24 10 72, or Feriyal Glaidous 0401 941 302

Inquest into the death of a deported asylum seeker in the hands of G4S guards in the UK:RISE (24 May 2013)

Sixty five racist jokes were found on the mobile phone of one of the G4S security guards who was restraining an Angolan asylum seeker Jimmy Mubenga who died in their hands during deportation from the UK in 2010.

In a police interview given shortly after Mubenga’s death and read out in court a senior G4S guard admitted that there were consequences if deportations were cancelled. “You always got the co-ordinator shouting at you: ‘You have to make this flight,’” he told the police interviewer. “They were probably getting it from higher up but I don’t know how high up it goes. I just know you have to get the job away so the boys get paid and you get paid.”

An inquest is currently being carried out in the UK into Jimmy Mubenga’s death in 2010.
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/17/security-guards-racist-jokes-mobiles, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/16/jimmy-mubenga-help-died-inquest?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487)

G4S is the largest security company in the world and has been hired by the Australian government to run detention centres incarcerating asylum seekers in Manus Island. It is also the company that held contracts during the last decade to run detention centres in Australia till about 2009 (http://www.theage.com.au/national/labor-breaks-detention-promise-20090119-7ku5.html) including the time when Australian permanent resident Corneila Rau was detained in Baxter (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2005/cornelia-chronology.htm).

G4S also holds various contracts to run prison facilities in Australia (http://www.smh.com.au/business/g4s-nabs-aussie-gold-with-questionable-tactics-20120731-23c2y.html) and the death of an Aboriginal elder held in custody in 2008 occurred in the hands of G4S guards (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2009/s2598658.htm).

There have also been a number of deaths of Asylum seekers and refugees in Australian immigration detention centres being run by another private security company SERCO (http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1613725/Coroner-slams-government-Serco-over-Villawood-deat) that holds a $1.86 billion government contract (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/sercos-lack-of-transparency-leaves-much-to-be-desired-20130507-2j5qi.html) to run these centres. Josefa Rauluni, a Fijian asylum seeker plunged to his death from the roof of the Villawood detention centre in 2010 when SERCO guards tried to restrain him for deportation.

Deportation Alerts in Australia.

We urgently ask you to contact Australian Immigration Minister Brendon O’ Conner and ask him to immediately stop the deportation of asylum seekers in Christmas Island. Since last 9 months there are over 1000 asylum seekers have been deported without being allowed to make an application  for asylum.

There are number of asylum seekers are facing deportation:  more information http://riserefugee.org/post/51133178075/update-on-rise-alert-22-may-2013-temporarily-stopped , http://riserefugee.org/post/51133142305/urgent-alert-from-australia-22-may-2013

Phone the Immigration Minister now:  02 6277 7860 or Email: minister@immi.gov.au 

You can also contact your member in the House of Representatives and ask them to take action. Find your member http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

LOBBY FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTIONS

UNHCR Geneva http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4a324fcc6.html
UN New York http://www.un.org/en/contactus/ 
World Human Rights Watch hrwpress@hrw.org  http://www.hrw.org/contact/new-york
High Commissioner for Human Rights nationalinstitutions@ohchr.org   InfoDesk@ohchr.org
Amnesty International aiunny@amnesty.org
Reporter without border administration@rsf.org
Christian Solidarity Worldwide admin@csw.org.uk
Restlessbeings info@restlessbeings.org
International Coalition Detention info@idcoalition.org

Update on RISE Alert (22 May 2013): Temporarily stopped refoulement of 14 Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum seekers:

The good news is that the deportation has been temporarily suspended for these 14 people, BUT unfortunately other Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers (including some families) who were not able to pass on their details to us were deported today without being allowed to apply for asylum.

Thank you to those who responded to our call. Please keep up the pressure (Minister Brendan O Connor, Julia Gillard etc and UNHCR who have been silent). We repeat-this suspension is only temporary and from the escalating deportation trend of Sri Lankan asylum seekers by the Australian government, there is no doubt about the fact that other Sri Lankan asylum seekers are in danger of being refouled by stealth without being allowed to have their asylum claims processed.

Urgent alert from Australia (22 May 2013):

Stop the refoulement of 14 Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum Seekers!

The Australian government has separated 14 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, 4 men, 3 women and 6 children (including a 6 month old baby), who arrived by boat and were detained in a remote immigration detention centre in Christmas Island from other asylum seekers and have informed them that:

a/ They are not going to be allowed to make an application for asylum.
b/ They are going to be forcibly deported to Sri Lanka.

Australia has already refouled more than 1000 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka within less than a year in this manner. ie they have deported these asylum seekers without allowing them apply for asylum.

The asylum seekers urgently ask the International community to intervene and stop the violation of their human right to seek protection and stop them from being refouled by the Australian government.

RISE Foodbank Appeal

Food insecurity and hunger are very real problems facing refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. The FoodBank service at RISE has been running since 2011, and the number of people who have accessed this service has increased much faster than anticipated. At present we have over 1500 asylum seekers and refugees registered for RISE’s support services and most of them are in community detention or are asylum seekers who are on bridging visas in need of food and shelter.

Many of the RISE members have been released to the community through the based detention scheme and do not have the right to work or access to government support services. RISE also supports a large number of families in community detention, many who are ill-equipped to meet their daily food requirements, therefore they are at risk of falling through the cracks of the system to the point that they cannot afford basic food and are left in a perilous state.

The RISE FoodBank aims to address the initial critical needs of refugees and asylum seekers within our community by providing access to free dry food and fruits and vegetables. In order to reach our goal to provide our community with access to food, we are calling for donations of food items to be donated to the RISE food bank.

Food items that we urgently need include:

• Rice
• Oil
• Sugar
• Pasta
• Pasta Sauce/Tomato Sauce
• Milk
• Tea and Coffee
• Bread
• Fruits and Vegetables
• Tuna
• Lentils
• Plain Flour
• Instant Noodles/Vermicelli Noodles
• Canned Tomatoes

In order to donate, please drop off items at our office: Level 1, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Volunteering at RISE

Current Volunteer positions at RISE 18/11/2014

RISE is a voluntary organisation, operating at the grassroots level and exists to assist refugees and asylum seekers in building new lives. We provide advice, we engage in community development, enhance opportunities, and campaign for refugee and asylum seeker rights. We operate with some of the least supported members of our society, and in areas that are grossly underserviced and underfunded. To respond to this need, we are looking for volunteers. RISE services that currently require your help include our: Advocacy program, Settlement assistance program, and our Music & Arts program.

Volunteering at RISE provides you with a unique opportunity to work with experienced refugee advocates and other highly skilled members of our team. Our projects are informed by our knowledge, experiences and expertise gained by first-hand experience from those of us who have already experienced the difficulties of settling in Australia. We have in-depth knowledge of the political, legal, social, and community welfare systems in Australia. RISE is “not” a place for volunteers to just feel good about themselves, but to contribute to the well being of our refugee and asylum seeker community. In order to volunteer at RISE you need to understand who we are and what we do, please read about our organisation carefully before you apply.

Since we are getting a lot of requests for volunteering; RISE team have managed to minimise workloads for all our volunteer members. Please find below the positions that are available at RISE and let us know by answering the questionnaire listed below.

Currently available volunteer positions (please click)

• Grant Writing – 2 positions available 

i. Select which area you want to volunteer in and read the position description.
ii. Answer the questions listed below (not more than 500 words).
iii. Attach your resume along with your answers on a separate sheet.
iv. Insert your area of expertise or preference “I would like to volunteer for (position description)”
v. Email to volunteer@riserefugee.org

All volunteers are required to answers the following questions

– Please provide a brief summary of your educational background, or work experience background.
– In a few sentences answer the following questions: Who is a refugee? Who is an asylum seeker?
– Explain your brief understanding about refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
– Please explain why you want to volunteer with RISE.

If your application is not successful, that doesn’t mean that we consider your contribution less valuable, since we have a lot of applications and we only accept volunteers for positions that are required at the time.

Limited places available.

RISE WINTER CLOTHING APPEAL

Winter is fast approaching and we’re all feeling the chill. Unfortunately, many of our members endure the cold winter months without heating or even adequate clothing to keep them warm.  At present there are over 9000 asylum seekers on bridging visas and around 4000 without any work or study rights who are facing financial difficulties. Most must try to make ends meet with a meagre allowance that is less than Newstart, so buying warm clothes is often not a possibility for many. RISE is currently providing support for around 700 asylum seekers and refugees registering our support services each week and most of them are in community detention or asylum seekers who are on bridging visas in need of food and shelter.

That is why, from now till the end of June, RISE is running their first Winter Coat Appeal. We are calling for donations of new (with tags) or near new coats, jackets, jumpers or other winter accessories. We are after men’s, women’s and children’s clothing in all sizes. If you don’t have anything donation worthy, don’t fret! Feel free to donate any amount of money to RISE so we are able to purchase some quality winter wear for our members.

Please follow the link to donate and add a special message with your donation that you’d like it to go to the Coat Drive.
http://www.givenow.com.au/riserefugee

If you’d like to donate clothing items, we welcome drop offs at the RISE Hub during work hours. Otherwise you may post your clothing to:
Attn: RISE Coat Appeal
RISE, Level 1, Ross House
247 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000

Your donation will ensure somebody who may be unable to afford warm clothing won’t have to stay cold this winter.

Note: RISE appreciates all donations given. However, it is important to remember that although we work with members who are in vulnerable situations, this does not mean they are less deserving of good, quality items. Therefore, we ask that you respect the dignity of our members and please donate only clothes in new or NEAR new condition. We will be unable to accept clothes that appear very worn or dirty.

RISE Alert: Attempt by UNHCR to expel refugees recognised and registered by UNHCR from Choucha refugee camp in Tunisia and cancel their resettlement options

06/05/2013

Last week UNHCR and other “humanitarian” agencies attempted to expel refugees out of Choucha refugee camp in Tunisia and close it down. http://chouchaprotest.noblogs.org/

228 refugees in this camp who are victims of the Libyan crisis and recognised as refugees by UNHCR have been on hunger strike for over a month regarding their removal from the resettlement process yet UNHCR continues to act agressively towards them.

The refugee problem requires a global solution not a regional solution or a national solution and international humanitarian agencies such as UNHCR and the international community have to be held accountable.

Please ACT NOW and urge relevant authorities including the Australian government to provide them with a solution.

1. Sign this electronic petition which RISE has linked to before on facebook to ask for these refugees to be resettled: http://tinyurl.com/choucha-refugees.

2. Write to the Australian Government appointed Panel of “refugee experts”, Paris Aristotle, Admiral Houston and Professor Michael L’Estrange who wrote the Houston report (http://expertpanelonasylumseekers.dpmc.gov.au/report) and ask them to urge Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister of immigration Brendan O Connor to assist these refugees to come to Australia “the right way” and provide them with resettlement.

3. Write up your own paper petition to submit to UNHCR Geneva and the Australian government and ask those in your community to sign it and send it in to relevant authorities with a covering letter.