Monthly Archives: August 2016

Media Release : Ex-Detainees declare 3rd of September as Ex-Detainees’ Day for Asylum seekers and Refugees

Ex-Detainees declare 3rd of September as Ex-Detainees’ Day for Asylum seekers and Refugees

“As ex-detainees in Australia, we acknowledge that the land we seek protection on is the land of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”

We Ex-detainees from RISE in Australia, mark the 3rd of September as #ExDetaineesDay for all Asylum seekers and Refugees who have been forcefully detained whilst seeking protection. Ex-detainees’ day will be entirely managed and controlled by ex-detainees, who are asylum seekers and refugees, as an assertion of our self determination. This day will highlight and oppose the abusive culture of refugee and asylum seeker detention, rather than merely serving to transmit our voices through platforms controlled by non-ex-detainees.

Ex-detainees from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds at RISE, have been meeting for nearly two years to share their experiences of hardships faced during their time in detention centres to help one another cope with the resulting trauma. The initiative to mark this day as Ex-detainees’ day for refugees and asylum seekers is one of the outcomes of these gatherings.

Ex-detainees’ Day spokesperson Abdul Baig said – “After discussion and consultation with members of our group, we have outlined 10 demands. Our demands are universal and can be adopted by all those who do not want to be part of the asylum seeker and refugee detention, torture and abuse supply chain. We ex-detainees say NO to the detention of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and the rest of the world, and YES to safety and protection”.

The cumulative trauma of leaving behind families and homelands, of being forcefully detained, of enduring punishment and torture in detention centres have resulted in feelings amongst Refugees and Asylum seekers of being subhuman. This is a violation of our human rights and our freedom. Asylum seekers and refugees will give effect to Ex-Detainees Day through the use of their voices to collectively speak out against harmful immigration detention centres, which continue to cruelly discriminate through the unnecessary imprisonment of refugees and asylum seekers who pursue protection.

As the world wakes up to the heinous crimes committed by the Australian government and their proxies against our community members exiled, detained and held hostage on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, we ex-detainees in Australia are living testament of these abuses that have been committed by successive Australian governments, onshore and offshore, over 20 years.

Ex-detainees’ Day spokesperson Abdul Baig also said – “While we are starting this unique initiative in Australia, we have been in touch with other ex-detainee community members outside Australia too. As members of the ex-detainee community, we will continue to consult and work with each other to shape further objectives and actions to end asylum seeker and refugee detention, both locally and globally”.

Finally, we ex-detainees who have sought protection and freedom in Australia, acknowledge that we live on colonised land where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ sovereignty has never been ceded.

Ex-detainees’ day Links :
1. What is Ex-detainees’ Day?
2. Ex-Detainees’ 10 Demands

Media contacts :
Phone : 03 9639 8623
Email : admin@riserefugee.org
Ex­-detainees in Australia , RISE: Refugees Survivors and Ex­-detainees

Open Letter from RISE: Refugees, Survivors and ex-detainees to Save the Children-Australia & Overseas board of directors 28/08/2016

RE: Six Questions from Refugees and Asylum seekers about Save the Children-Australia’s role in Australia’s Nauru/Manus Asylum seeker Detention and Abuse supply chain.

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees is the first and only refugee organisation in Australia that is governed, staffed and controlled entirely by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees. RISE represents over 30 refugee community groups in Australia and is a strong advocate for refugees and asylum seekers. At present, there are over 2800 members who are primarily ex-detainee asylum seekers and refugees.

As a backbone to our work, RISE strongly disapproves of any refugee movement, organisation, policy or individual that creates and/or supports a refugee scheme to imprison refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres and violates our peoples’ civil rights. For that matter, we do not endorse any movement, organisation or individual that violates any group of people’s civil rights. As we have stated, RISE is governed by and represents the interests of refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees, many of whom have first- hand experience of the harmful effects of the detention system. RISE has written and spoken out extensively about the consequences of Australia’s inhumane immigration detention policies.

The purpose of this letter is to address the continued lack of accountability in Save the Children-Australia’s role in the Australian government’s abusive, human rights violating asylum seeker trafficking and detention supply chain in Manus and Nauru, with a number of news reports that indicate asylum seeker and refugee children under Save the Children’s care were assaulted and sexually abused. Only a few days ago there has been another news report with allegations that your organisation withheld key evidence from the Australian human rights commission on sexual abuse of children in the Australian government’s internment camp in Nauru.

Save the Children-Australia’s 2014 Annual report (page 72) acknowledges that there was a 41% increase in income due to funding from the Australian Department of Immigration and border protection (DIBP) to run “services” in the Manus and Nauru asylum seeker internment camps. These funds total to more than a 100 million dollars of Australian tax payers’ money. We are appalled by the apparent hypocrisy in the actions of your organisation publicly condemning the detention of children, while accepting lucrative sums of money from DIBP, the very same abusers of both adults and children from our community, with the children under your care being caged and abused, rather than being saved.

We are sure you would agree that the first rule of thumb in community service is to be accountable to those who we claim to serve over our funders or other vested interests. Therefore as members of the refugee community, we ask the following questions about your organisation’s role in caging our people…adults and children…in Nauru and Manus:

1. Knowing that the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and the refoulement of asylum seekers to Manus and Nauru is illegal, anti-refugee and unhumanitarian, why did Save the Children sign a contract to work for and accept money from, the very government that was violating basic human rights laws, including the rights of children?

2. Paul Ronalds, the CEO of Save the Children-Australia, publicly urged refugee advocates to accept asylum seeker boat turnbacks are here to stay. Considering the fact that the operation of boat turnbacks endangers the lives of asylum seekers does your organisation endorse this compromise of human lives, including the lives of children?

3. Did Save the Children fail to disclose the physical and sexual assault of children and the lack of safety of children in Nauru to the Australian Human rights commission? If yes, for what reason did Save the Children withhold this information?

4.How does Save the Children justify taking money from the very same entity that incarcerates asylum seeker children and ignoring refugee boat turn backs align with Save the Children’s vision of “a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation”?

5. Nine of your workers are reported to have been given $1 million in compensation from the Australian government and extensive legal advice. Keeping in mind that your organisation and your employees made a choice to work in Nauru, were paid salaries while they were working on the island and had freedom of movement including freedom to cross borders; what estimate would you put on the amount of compensation owed to hundreds of our community members trafficked, caged and held hostage in Manus and Nauru or those who were coerced into self-deporting to danger from Manus and Nauru?

6. Will Save the Children ensure that compensation is provided for those who were abused under their care and their families?

Our members have been, and continue to be outspoken for more than a decade at great personal cost, about the abusive nature of Australia’s mandatory detention system, hence we continue to regard with disbelief that people callously continue to apply for jobs in this abusive system. To witness this apparent ignorance, disregard and erasure of voices of refugee and asylum seeker detainees and ex-detainees in the struggle for justice and freedom is an ongoing trauma our community faces to this day. We demand that Save the Children and all other organisations and individuals to please, in the name of humanity, desist from working in, being complicit in and endorsing asylum seeker/refugee concentration camps and other anti-refugee policies.

Yours Sincerely,
Ramesh Fernandez
On behalf of RISE Team

Ex-detainees’ day for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Ex-detainees’ day for Asylum Seekers and Refugees, 3rd of September 2016.

“We refugees and asylum seekers need protection NOT detention”.

We, Ex-detainees at RISE in Australia, mark the 3rd of September as Ex-Detainees’ Day for all Asylum Seekers and Refugees who have been forcefully detained whilst seeking protection. The 3rd of September will serve to commemorate and give a collective voice to Refugees and Asylum Seekers around the world who are facing discrimination and criminalisation due to detainment. Ex-detainees’ day will be controlled and managed ONLY by ex-detainees to highlight and oppose all forms of Refugee and Asylum Seeker detention around the world : doesn’t matter if for 1 day or 30 days or 1 year or any other length of time.

#ExDetaineesDay

More information coming soon.

How the Australian Census & Neglect by the Refugee sector severely impacts Refugees & Asylum seekers (9 August 2016)

Refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees were called for a meeting with a government subcontracted community settlement service provider yesterday and told there will be a “national census” and you all need to provide information. When refugees asked for help due to lack of computer knowledge and communication barriers they were simply told they are “really busy” and can’t help. The meeting was conducted without proper interpreters and inadequate information was provided regarding the census.

A RISE member said that they did not understand what was being said and people were really confused as to whether this matter was related to the department of immigration and border protection (DIBP) or not. The RISE member asked “If the government is pouring our community money to these agencies, what are they doing with it? Are they meant to be helping us or helping themselves?”

When the RISE member called the census information line to access more information, they were directed to “unknown” areas and the line cut off twice. Further, the RISE member added – “we don’t even know how to dial the correct number because of the lack of information given to us, so how are we going to report to the Census? Is the Census only for people from English-speaking background only? What about people like us who speak more than four or five languages, not English? This discriminates against all of us refugees and asylum seekers in the community – we are not getting enough support from government subcontracted community settlement agencies paid to help us or even from the department organising the census.”

Lastly, RISE is alarmed that according to privacy experts the new system used to gather and store census data places the privacy of those who give their personal information at serious risk. Most of our members are seeking protection from some of the most oppressive regimes in the world that have resources to access the most sophisticated data surveillance techniques in the world. The Australian Bureau of Statistics claims that there is no risk to privacy. However, this does little to allay our fears as thousands of our community members in Australia have already been severely impacted by a data breach by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.