Monthly Archives: August 2018

Transgender Refugees living in the community in Australia and Access to Primoteston

Recently, in the last few weeks, RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees’ transgender members who were coercively assigned female at birth and are living in the community, raised concerns about the removal of Primoteston Depot (a form of testosterone injection) from the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).  Primoteston has been removed from PBS by the manufacturer Bayer Pharmaceuticals for commercial reasons. This forces our members to purchase the medication at the full price of about $40 every 4-6 weeks. Generic brand testosterone is also not available through the system. For this reason, a meeting was organised last weekend by affected RISE transgender members to discuss this issue.  Clearly it has had a particularly devastating impact on our community members as they are also struggling with Australia’s precarious and abusive refugee visa process, with limited access to health and welfare services. Furthermore, it became clear in the discussion that even service providers that explicitly claim to support transgender people have failed to address the barriers transgender refugees face when it comes to accessing hormone replacement therapy.

In order for an unemployed RISE member living in the community on a bridging visa with Medicare, to purchase prescribed medication at a concession price they have to be approved for Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.  If their SRSS application is approved, in addition to SRSS payments which is 89% of the standard Centrelink welfare payments they are assigned to a private subcontractor such as AMES or Life Without Barriers for “settlement” support. They do not have access to a healthcare card and have to depend on a letter from the SRSS provider to allow access to specific pharmacies to purchase PBS medication at a concession price.  Currently, AMES provides a letter that is usually valid for only 1 or 3 months which has to be renewed each time it expires. For RISE members (all of whom are ex-detainees) on 5 year temporary visas, the government will only allow them to receive Centrelink payments for up to 18 months in total. We also need to keep in mind RISE members who are undocumented or on bridging visas, who don’t have access to Medicare, the right to work or any welfare support payments and have to pay full price for all medication. The recent cuts to SRSS by the Department of Home Affairs places more of our members in this latter category.  

When a person changes from  Primoteston to a testosterone injection available on PBS such as Reandron (also manufactured by Bayer), they may have to continue to use Primoteston during a temporary overlapping period with Reandron.  So even RISE members eligible for PBS medication at a concession rate who decide to change from Primoteston to Reandron, will initially have to pay for Primoteston at the full price, in addition to Reandron at concession price.  Moreover, different people may react differently to different brands of testosterone and for these reasons many transgender people who use Primoteston cannot switch to a more affordable brand of testosterone.

RISE calls on health and welfare providers, particularly ones that claim and/or funded to support refugees and transgender people, to take direction from transgender refugees and effectively address the issues described above without further delay.



RISE members including offshore and onshore eX-detainees strongly condemn successive Australian governments for holding hostage our community members in Manus and Nauru torture camps for more than five years now. RISE demands that the Australian government to immediately bring back all refugee survivors and provide them permanent protection and proper support services.

Asylum seeker and refugee detainees are among the most persecuted and oppressed people in the world. We endured abuse in our own countries, and upon seeking protection, are disenfranchised and suffer institutional abuse within detention systems. Immigration detention centres are arbitrary and nefarious forms of state violence; they function to subjugate asylum seekers and refugees by imprisonment.

‘Detention deaths are systemic murder not casual deaths of refugees, we should not normalise them at anytime’

The re-opening in 2012 of so called “regional processing centres” in Manus Island and Nauru by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and immigration minister Chris Bowen has resulted in 12 deaths so far. Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers trafficked to Manus and Nauru by the Australian government have experienced abuse and neglect on these islands. This systemic abuse of our bodies and livelihood not only exist in detention but also long after we survived. We should not also forget those who are currently held hostage in both onshore and offshore detention camps, including some cases where people have been detained for 10 years without release date.

Former offshore and onshore detainee, Ramesh Fernandez says “These camps cannot be called ‘processing centres’. Australian run offshore refugee camps are a modern form of concentration camps. How do you call this a ‘processing centre’ when you get locked up 24/7, tortured and humiliated constantly. We should not forget that in November 2015 over ‪600 refugees and asylum seekers in Manus Island detention camp wrote to Australian PM and immigration minister Peter Dutton calling for mass assisted suicide‬. This is evidence that refugees and asylum seekers are unable to continue their lives in Manus.”

We require support and protection, not incarceration. States have the obligation to uphold our human rights; not exploit us for political gain. We denounce the torture, deportation, abuse and bloodshed occurring in immigration detention centres. We condemn governments, private companies and nonprofit agencies who are part of the detention supply chain.

“Furthermore”, Ramesh Fernandez says, “due to the lack of transparency in these Australian run detention camps, refugee cases have been mishandled, unfairly dismissed and processed without proper adherence to refugee rights protocol. Providing Manus and Nauru  detainees with the impossible ultimatum of settling in PNG or returning to their countries pushes unfairly rejected asylum seekers as well as those who have not been rejected to self-deport to danger.”

We say enough is enough! It is the Australian government who deported our community members to torture camps in Manus and Nauru. It is not for survivors of racist, state sanctioned abuse to clean up this unlawful mess. We demand that the Australian government immediately end the cycle of torture: Close these camps permanently and bring all survivors back to Australia for resettlement with proper support services. This is the very least that should be done to compensate for damage done to our communities by criminal actions of the Australian government and its proxies.

RISE : Refugee Survivors and eX-detainees

This is the fifth year that RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees, the first self-determined advocacy and welfare organisation in Australia run by Refugees for Refugees continues to call for a boycott of Refugee week.

This is the fifth year that RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees, the first self-determined advocacy and welfare organisation in Australia run by Refugees for Refugees continues to call for a boycott of Refugee week.  Meanwhile almost every agency across the world that states they “help” or advocate for Refugees calls us to “celebrate” Refugee week and World Refugee Day.

There are now over 65 million forcibly displaced people around the world, the highest number since World War II.  Furthermore between just 2016 and 2017, despite the global increase of refugees, the number of refugee resettlement places dropped by 54%. How many refugees are Indefinitely and forcibly detained in immigration detention centres, Blocked from seeking protection, Tortured abused and murdered, Deprived of water and food supplies, Living below the poverty line within refugee camps or Deported to danger?

How are you going to address this systemic oppression and calculated discrimination during Refugee week? Sitting in a dark corner or event hall listening to happy and sad refugee stories and running panel discussions will not address the root of refugee global displacement. It is a cheap, weak and self centred approach that has satisfied personal or organisational goals which has not helped to effectively mitigate the escalating crisis of hyper militarization and abuse our communities face across the globe.  To quote an eX-detainee RISE member, “Sharing refugee stories is a saviour complex strategy that bandages white structural discrimination against refugees in Australia. Discrimination, torture and abuse of refugees will not end by sharing happy and sad stories unless the system of abuse is dismantled.”

In RISE’s 2017 callout for a boycott of Refugee week, we mentioned the fact that the architects of one of the most brutal, xenophobic, white supremacist refugeepolicies in the world, Australia’s department of home affairs, are one of the participants in Refugee week “celebrations” and yes, they continue to do so in 2018 (, How could those partnering with the  Australian Department of Home affairs at Refugee week events during this week keep ignoring the fact that this department continues to implement the discriminatory and abusive “No Advantage” policy introduced by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012 that included the reopening of refugee torture camps in Nauru and Manus camps where 12 refugee deaths have occurred so far? Not surprisingly, numerous NGOs that have supported and/or continue to support the Australian government to run detention centres and community detention are organising refugee week events-for example Salvation Army, Save the Children, Red Cross, AMES etc.

Most importantly we should not forget UNHCR, the peak international refugee body that purports to represent us Refugees, coercively collecting biometric data of the most vulnerable in interim countries for “security” measures, and facilitating “Voluntary” repatriation of Refugees to war torn countries such as Afghanistan.  For instance RISE is aware that UNHCR has opened up an office in Bogor in Indonesia and Afghan community members have been informed this office will only assist those “who want to go back to Afghanistan”.

This lack of accountability is not something we can take lightly. We should not be remembered once a year as passive entertainers to satisfy the public’s voyeuristic interest or to satisfy the diversity checklist while our community members are directly or indirectly endangered by these very same entities.

While there are global efforts by both governments and NGOs during “World Refugee Day” to make us sing, dance and perform for them as they momentarily “celebrate” our existence, thus far, we have not witnessed a global effort by these entities to stop displacing people, stop feeding the deadly “border security” and military industrial complex, and provide safe passage and sanctuary for Refugees crossing borders.

RISE Statement on the siege and massacre of Gazans.

The past two months have been horrific for the people under siege in Gaza. They have historically attempted for several weeks to protest at the border of Israel’s 12 year air, sea and land blockage and demand their right of return to 1948 areas now occupied by Israeli suburbs, under The Great Return March. In peacefully protesting, they have been massacred by Israeli sniper live bullets and other weapons which have killed more than 112 of whom 13 were children (under 18) and 13,190 injured.

The people of Gaza are insisting on breaking out of the siege and just day before yesterday, they sailed on a Freedom Flotilla ship with many of the injured to reach Cyprus and access medical care denied from entry into Gaza. Israel intercepted and seized this ship.

RISE stands unequivocally in support of the two million residents of Gaza in their demands for the siege to end immediately, who should not have to endure a brutal and dehumanising blockade which is the largest open air prison in the world.

We strongly believe that all refugees should be able to escape dangerous, unlivable conditions and seek asylum, yet the people in Gaza are forced to endure live ammunition and airstrikes for having the audacity to demand a life of safety and dignity.

We see Australia’s complicity in its belligerent UN vote against an investigation into Israel’s latest massacre as further reason to support the Sanction Australia campaign.

Our primary aim is to sanction Australia from participating in international refugee humanitarian decision making and human rights forums until The End of Mandatory Detention, The End of Refoulement and The End of Refugee Boat Turn back policies.

We do not see a difference between Australia’s white supremacist mandatory detention policy, and Israel’s zionist occupation, illegal settlements, blockade and seizing of Gazan ships. The parallels reveal clearly why Australia would use its power to protect its settler colonial ally – Israel.

We express our solidarity with Palestinians, who have endured 70 years as a nation in exile, unable to return to their occupied lands.

We invite them and all supporters of freedom to join us in our Sanction Australia campaign until Australia improves its human rights record both on refugee and Palestinian rights.

We RISE eX-detainees including Palestinian eX-detainees highly condemn the recent attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza strip by Israel.

Genocidal acts are being carried out daily, inside and outside the borders of Gaza by Israel and it is not a hidden matter; it is out there for people to witness. So far, over 40 Palestinians have been killed in the recent massacre with 2000 others injured.

We are not going to sit back and talk about “how can this happen?” or “violations of human rights law”. We find such discussions practically worthless, meaningless and short-sighted because there is no such thing called “human rights” in occupied territories. If there is one we wouldn’t have been treated as worthless humans. We stand against the massacre of Palestinians and the ongoing occupation by Israel.

We don’t need sympathy, we need accountability and reparations. We should not forget thousands of Palestinians have been refugees for over 50 years and barred from returning to their homeland or even a durable resettlement solution by UNHCR.

We send our deepest condolences to our community who are the victims of the Israeli government’s murderous actions, conducted repeatedly in front of your eyes.

RISE eX-detainees


eX-detainees highly condemn artists performed in the #Stolenwealth (“commonwealth”) games in Australia 2018 and call to boycott such artists.

We eX-detainees in Australia strongly condemn those artists who performed in the Stolenwealth aka “Commonwealth” Games in Australia 2018. We eX-detainees have requested artists to boycott the “Commonwealth” Games both nationally and internationally on the basis of our community members enduring ongoing abuses in Australia run detention centres for over 2 decades (26 years).

But our request has been regarded with clear disrespect and Australia’s rape and torture survivors should not have to educate people on this. Artists privileged enough to have such a platform should know that their solidarity should be with the oppressed not with a thieving murderous empire or “commonwealth”. This was an opportunity to leverage your power for justice but you instead chose fame and money while throwing abused and tortured communities under the bus. What is very interesting is that some of these artists are recognised as progressive and as human rights activists, yet have zero respect for refugees indefinitely detained in Australian detention camps both in and past and at the present. For over 26 years, white Australian refugee policy exists not only because of racist Australian government but also of spineless so-called progressives too.

This systemic abuse of our bodies and livelihood not only exist in detention but also long after we survived. We should not also forget those who are currently held hostage in both onshore and offshore detention camps, including some cases where people have been detained for 10 years without release date.

Therefore, we ask all our national and international followers to BOYCOTT below artists’ future performances due to their lack of regards for those who survived rape and torture in Australia-run detention centres.

Artist Names / Locations

Meg Mac – Melbourne
The Cat Empire – Melbourne
Born in a Taxi – Melbourne
Regurgitator – Melbourne
Confidence Man- Melbourne

Urthboy – Sydney
Nina Las Vegas – NSW
Icarus Productions – Sydney
Hot Dub Time Machine – Sydney
Thundamentals – Sydney
BlueSkillet Rovers – NSW
Eliza & The Delusionals- NSW

Kate Miller Heidke – Brisbane
Amy Shark – Brisbane
Ella Fence – Brisbane
Katie Noonan – Brisbane
The Jungle Giants – Brisbane
Bullhorn – Brisbane
Circa Contemporary Circus – Brisbane
Paces – Brisbane
Polytoxic dance theatre – Brisbabe
Lastlings – Brisbane
Dancenorth – Queensland
Don Walker – Queensland
Busby Marou – Brisbane
Michelle Xen – Brisbane
Courtney Act – Brisbane
Bobby Alu – Brisbane
The Creases – Brisane
Tijuana cartel – Queensland
Cheap Fakes – Brisbane
Dubmarine – Brisbane

Caiti Baker – Darwin
Restless Dance Theatre – Adelaide

Wafia – Netherlands
Rimini Protokoll – Germany
Early Morning Opera – USA
Punchdrunk – England
Susheela Raman – England
The Ska Vengers – India
Salmonella Dub – New Zealand
Peaches – Canada
GRRRL – Worldwide

Stolenwealth Games Boycott – A First Nations & eX-detainee Solidarity Statement 26/03/2018

Members of the First Nations and eX-detainees from RISE have consulted to produce this solidarity statement and call for all supporters to boycott the Stolenwealth (“commonwealth”) Games which is to be held in Queensland, Gold Coast in Australia in April 2018.

Colonial theft, dispossession and genocide are no reason to celebrate and as such we call for all participating nations, athletes, artists and fans to boycott the games and to end colonial occupation and oppression in Australia as well the systemic abuse against our communities.

The Stolenwealth games are merely another cheap gimmick used to whitewash the realities and bloody histories of British colonisation across 6 continents. There is no unity through genocide. First Nations Elders and supporters working with RISE have made it clear that countries and individuals who are willing to participate in this grotesque pandering to a display of British colonialism are not welcome and are violating Indigenous sovereignty.

We encourage people to take responsibility for their own communities and organise actions at embassies of participating nations, contact activists from participating nations and publicly pressure athletes and artists to pull out of the games.

We also encourage people to support the Stolenwealth Games protest actions that will be occurring on the Gold Coast and around Australia from April 4th, 2018. Unite to resist continuing colonial occupation and imperialism. Anyone who is coming to participate in the Stolenwealth games or going to watch the games undermines the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and over 200 years of genocide and on-going oppression. Further, they are also complicit in the torture and indefinite detention of refugees in Australia’s onshore and offshore detention camps. This systemic oppression must end.

Australia’s colonial borders continue to oppress communities of colour and Black peoples living inside and outside these borders. We condemn the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, asylum seekers and refugees in detention centres and prisons in this country. Every time you win a medal, you are winning a medal for colonization, genocide, occupation, systemic abuse and discrimination.

This is an international crisis. Deal with the root of the crisis and act now!

No Games on stolen land.
#BoycottGC2018 #SanctionAustralia #NotTheQueensLand

Media contact: Ramesh Fernandez / 03 9639 8623

Here are some actions you can take to boycott the Stolenwealth Games in Queensland, Australia 2018 and stand in solidarity with

1. Contact and organise actions at embassies of participating nations.
2. Contact activists from participating nations and request they help apply public pressure on athletes to pull out of the games.
3. Put pressure on those musicians and performers to boycott participating at the Stolenwealth games especially white Australians, white Canadians and British at the opening ceremony (see below details of the performers)
4. Attend rallies and demonstrations and draw attention to protest actions

Contact points for artists and embassies here and ACT NOW!

Joint Statement on Ms. Suu Kyi attending Asean-Australia Special Summit in Sydney, March 2018

On the event of Asean-Australia Special Summit, we Rohingya community from Australia would like to call the Australian government to raise cases of ongoing genocide, ethnic cleansing against Rohingya community in Arakan (Rakhine) state of western Burma (Myanmar). The native Rohingya people have been facing total destruction and driven out from their homelands under the military powered government NLD led by popular Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military powered NLD government led by Ms. Suu Kyi defiantly blocked the UN Inquiry Commission, foreign officials, independent journalists, agencies and ration supplies. As well as, the NLD government has constructed fake stories, provided reverse information, and dismissed the crisis on the ground by forming commission after commission and fancily fingering the minor defense of Rohingya resistant group ARSA that has actually done same as other armed ethnic groups. Also, her government signed the repatriation deal with Bangladesh in order to topple international pressures from the account of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Indeed, types of vigilant attacks, ways of indiscriminately and arbitrary killings and usages of arms, brutal violent abuses and rapes, massive destruction of historical buildings, homelands and identities and cases of systematic oppression, repression, restriction, confinement, persecution, unlawful arrest, corporal and collective punishments, practicing unlawful discriminatory laws and orders, permanent restriction in every social, cultural, welfare, health-care, education and livelihood sectors and cutting off of electricity and waters, are clear pictures of genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

The attack from 25 Aug 2017 in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships by government armed forces jointly with Rakhine armed force ALP and government trained Rakhine gangs, used fight helicopters, tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers and killed brutally and indiscriminately. Women and girls as young as aged 12 were raped in front of their relatives and in the public and shot dead brutally, children including babies were slaughtered, burnt and buried alive, laying landmines along the ways of fleeing.

MSF report showed about 10,000 dead among the arrivals of just in the first month. According to the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) cited data from the Bangladeshi government that puts the number of “lost” parents as high as 43,700 people.

The death toll is significantly high If we count the number of parents lost for current 40,000 orphans plus family members who lost their husband, wife, children, siblings. Arrest including children and people who teaching Rohingya kids, distributing rations, language support workers, medical assistance providers, bearing phones, having radio and foreign contacts. Looting goods and cash, crops and animals. Up to date, more than 400 villages of total about 485 villages have been completely razed down and the government forces bulldozed the remnant parts of the building by following days. Nearly 700,000 out of estimated 770,000 Rohingyans were forced into Bangladesh thru ravines and jungles. Some drown to death, some died with wounds, and some died from starvation.

Today, 90% of total Rohingya population from these 3 regions were driven out, destruction of the remaining houses continue, the rest Rohingyans are trapped and facing horrible attacks, deadly starvation and Rohingya lands are clearing and replacing with mega projects and military base camps.

Read full joint statement here

Message from rise members from the Chinese community who are seeking protection in Australia

We, Chinese Christians of the church of almighty god request Australian government to pay more attention on our protection claims in Australia

We are Christians of the Church of Almighty God (CAG) seeking protection in Australia. Group of us arrived to Australia in hoping to seek protection but our cases have been unsuccessful due to lack of understanding about our faith and religion. Many of us are struggling to find lawyers and unable to find proper way of settling in Australia.

The Chinese Communist government uses its official media to package China as a country with an image of “rapid economic development and a marked increase in its international status,” and only shows its seemingly glamorous appearance to the world, but secretly adopts all kinds of methods to hide the deplorable human rights situation of China.

In fact, since it took power, the Chinese Communist Party has bloodily suppressed religious beliefs by hook or by crook, doing its utmost to ban house churches. Especially the persecution on the CAG is even more severe. Since being established in 1991, the CAG has continued to endure brutal repression and persecution of the Chinese Communist government.

● In 1995, the CCP issued the documents to label the Church of Almighty God, the Local Church etc. totally 14 religious groups as “cults,” and brutally suppressed the CAG in the name of “combating cults.”
● According to rough statistics, in just the two short years between 2011 and 2013, the number of Christians of the CAG illegally arrested, detained and sentenced by the Communist Party reached 380,380 people, of which 43,640 people were subjected to various methods of torture at the hands of kangaroo courts, including 13 people who were persecuted to death. As of now, there are already 44 well-documented cases of Christians of the CAG killed by the Communist Party.
● Based on incomplete statistics from the start of the 2017 to September 30 of the same year, at least 3,362 Christians of the CAG were subjected to the persecution of the Communist Party in Mainland China’s 32 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
● Because the CCP has always suppressed religious beliefs, many Christians from the CAG are forced to flee from home, agonizing over their shattered family and homelessness.
● The denial of religious freedom in China and the case of The Church of Almighty God exposed at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations
● Nowadays, there are still many Christians of the CAG suffer from inhumane abuse in Chinese prisons, and the number of church members who were persecuted to death continues to grow.

As the repression of the CAG by the CCP continues to escalate, some Christians from the CAG uprooted themselves and fled to the countries overseas, a part of whom arrived Australia seeking asylum. We are law-abiding and peace-loving, and want to make a contribution to society. We didn’t know much about the local law when we first arrived, and legal aid provided by some local non-profit organizations is limited, so the majority applied for our protection visas without professional immigration lawyers’ help, and some of whom were refused by the DIBP, waiting for the hearing. Due to the coming hearing and lack of legal assistance, our situation will become more worrying: Once our applications for protection visas are refused, we will be faced with repatriation, which is tantamount to sending us to our death.

We hope that Australian people can pay more attention to the life of Christians of the CAG, call on for the Christians seeking asylum and help us assimilate into the local, so that we can stay here to continue our beliefs.

Our web page
The denial of religious freedom in China
CHINA: Four members of the Church of Almighty God arrested and tortured in Huaiyang County
Report: Persecution of the Church of Almighty God in China


RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees is the first welfare and advocacy organisation governed entirely by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees in Australia. RISE represents over 30 refugee community groups in Australia and located in Melbourne.

In October 2017, the eX-Detainees at RISE: Refugee Survivors and eX-Detainees launched the Sanction Australia campaign. Our primary aim is to sanction Australia from participating in international refugee humanitarian decision making and human rights forums until The End of Mandatory Detention, The End of Refoulement and The End of Refugee Boat Turn back policies. The #SanctionAustralia campaign is distinguished by its unique leadership, in that it is initiated, controlled and directed by eX-detainees from RISE.

It is evident to us that Australia has succeeded in enacting, and providing the world with a blueprint for contemporary modes of border imperialism. Australia’s unrelenting devotion to its politics of deterrence, built on the foundations of the White Australia policy, racism and arbitrary imprisonment demonstrates to us that this country is one that not only allows refugees to be used as political leverage, but applauds its on-going mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

Supporting refugees means supporting agencies, like RISE, that are self-governed and provide refugee communities with more than charity. If you object to the Australian government’s policies of mandatory detention and boat push-back, then you should donate to Sanction Australia campaign as a means of direct action and further support the campaign in the specific ways we have outlined here-

1. Project Coordination wages and costs (RISE is largely run off volunteer labour at present);
2. Content development, research, travel expenses, community networking and hosting events, workshops and conferences;
3. Food, water and material aid for refugees and eX-detainee volunteers and advocates who have no access to other means of financial support;
4. Promotion costs of the Sanction Australia agenda in social media and other advertising; printing materials including flyers and posters;
5. Video promotional materials, including for the direction, development and circulation of video campaigns.

Support our Sanction Australia campaign by making a donation today.

Online deposit;
Account Name: RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees
BSB: 013128
Account Number: 220584925

For more info or if you would like to run Sanction Australia fundraiser please contact at

Nothing About Refugees Without Refugees
RISE eX-detainee Team
Back to #SanctionAustralia Web Page

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