Author Archives: riserefugee

RISE: Refugee Survivors and eX-detainees Invasion Day Solidarity Statement – 2020

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees – the FIRST self-determined advocacy and welfare organisation in Australia run by Refugees for Refugees – makes a public call for a boycott of “Australia Day”, for the eighth year in a row.  Even before making our first public statement our organisation has never “celebrated” this day.

As eX-detainees, Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia, we acknowledge that the land we seek protection on is the land of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples whose sovereignty was never ceded. ‘Always was, always will be Aboriginal land’. RISE fully supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination and stands in solidarity with them every day in our commitment to fighting for justice on this land on their terms.  RISE thanks the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across “Australia” who have been supporting refugee self-determination and standing in solidarity with our community groups every day.

We eX-detainees, Asylum Seekers and Refugees from RISE condemn any group or individual who claims to be pro-refugee but celebrates “Australia Day” on the 26th of January 2020. Instead, RISE encourages all Refugees, eX-detainees, Asylum Seekers and allies to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their actions against “Australia Day” and their self determination.

The systemic abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a result of over 200 years of discrimination and continues to this day. The template is now being used against our own refugee communities who are coming on boats. It is impossible to dismantle refugee torture built within and outside detention without addressing the root cause of this ongoing criminal abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To quote RISE founder and eX-detainee, Ramesh Fernandez “As survivors of occupation, rape, torture and oppression we should not undermine the struggle for survival that other oppressed community groups face. We should respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their sovereignty. It is not a day to poster yourself on a billboard, dance, sing or wrap a flag around yourself that represents occupation, colonisation and genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia”.

RISE acknowledges the length of discrimination and ongoing systemic abuse that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia face and stand in solidarity with them every day. We believe that full sovereignty Freedom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is the first step and the RISE team will always support and work hand in hand with First Nations communities as much as we can.

Donate / Amplify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples-led movements and organisations

Nationwide actions are being organised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Activists. Refer to WAR (Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance) facebook for updates: https://www.facebook.com/WARcollective/

The above list was given to us by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members who support/work with RISE. If you would like to add any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples-led organisations to this list please email admin@riserefugee.org

In Solidarity
RISE : Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees

RISE Media Statement : ‘NO Bush fire evacuation plan provided by Peter Dutton and Refugee support groups for eX-detainee Refugees forced to move to regional Australia by the Department of Home Affairs’

RISE is highly concerned about the welfare of eX-detainee refugees in Australia who are forced by Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton’s government to move to regional areas on SHEV 790 subclass visa. The Department of Home Affairs is yet to provide or publicly announce a proper bushfire evacuation and safeguard for eX-detainees. eX-detainee Refugees are used as indentured labor in these regional areas and not a single word has been uttered by the media or Refugee “support” organisations regarding bushfire hazards to our community and our rights to flee. While we are constantly told we have to work or study full time in regional areas or be penalised, of course, our community members are scared to leave and don’t know what to do. If our community members flee from these areas during a bushfire what consideration will be given to them? Are our refugee community even discussed in the mainstream media regarding providing proper safeguards? Yet again eX-detainee Refugees are forgotten, and concerns seem to only be shown towards so-called citizens of this country or particular groups. To quote one of our RISE members “We ran from one oppressor to another.  We jumped from the frying pan and into the fire”

RISE TEAM

From the Australian Home Affairs Website about the SHEV 790 Subclass Visa:

If you do not work or study in a SHEV regional area, for at least 42 months (3 and a half years) you will not be able to meet the pathway requirements to apply for other visas. You will be able to apply for another SHEV or a Temporary Protection visa if you still need Australia’s protection. https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/safe-haven-enterprise-790#When

Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) regional area https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/safe-haven-enterprise-790/safe-haven-enterprise-visa-regional-area

Medevac : eX-detainees condemn non-refugee advocates, organisations and campaigners on their little backyard campaign

RISE: Refugees, Survivors & eX-detainees condemn those who tailgated politicians on their little backyard ‘Medevac’ campaign. What are the results now? Back to square one. If you call yourself activists and campaigners and still cannot work out Australian politics, YOU ARE the problem, not our community.

All this time we have been saying that people should not sidetrack from core issues and push to end mandatory detention policies, refugee boat turnbacks and bring back ALL of our people being held hostage from Manus and Nauru and give them permanent protection, but our voices are silenced and disregarded. This is racist. There are so much space and resources being taken up to achieve ‘small wins’ while ignoring the decimation of our community.

This is a perfect example that non-refugee-detainee campaigners and politicians mislead and deceive our community members into false hope. As a result, our community members will be become more catastrophic in and outside detention centres. Now, who is going to pick up the pieces? Our community has to suffer because of non-refugee ‘activists’ who still believe white supremacist politicians. This is how the Australian refugee sector moves forward while our suffering is used to gain political advantage. We don’t need your opinions or suggestions – let the eX-detainee and currently detained community decide what is good for us. All you need to do is follow our lead – not your self-centred politicking strategies.

In Australia, Refugee campaigners and so-called activists cannot criticise Governments or politicians or take a stand. Either they side with politicians, become servants of politicians, join a political party or they collect petitions and take it Canberra to become politicians’ pets. The reality is, they do not want to condemn politicians because their friends and families are candidates for elections, as well as the fact that they are indirectly working for them and running their little backyard campaigns to just prove that they are “activists”. No wonder why anti-refugee white supremacy has lasted so long in this country. How many times we have to tell you this over and over again?

Nothing About Without Us.
RISE eX-detainees

Support eX-detainees’ led campaigns & Voices

RISE Exclusive Media Release (8th November 2019): Transgender RISE members condemn Darebin City Council for paying lipservice to the inclusivity of Trans people with their “Trans and Gender Diverse Swim Nights”

RISE: Refugee Survivors and eX-detainees’ Trans members strongly condemn Darebin City Council’s Trans and Gender Diverse Swim Nights initiative where allyship to Trans people is being used as a publicity stunt to benefit the council and a number of its staff, with minimal changes being implemented to ensure ALL Trans people can safely access these facilities throughout the year. The next Swim night is being held tomorrow, at Reservoir Leisure Centre on Saturday the 9th of November 2019.  Note: Darebin is a municipal region in Melbourne, Australia. 

The Reservoir Leisure Centre has allocated three shabby rooms as “Gender Neutral Change Spaces” (link to video of rooms below*). They have no shower or toilet facilities, no visible signage, and are awkwardly placed as an afterthought, isolated and far removed from the rest of the facilities. This is far from the so-called inclusive image projected by Darebin City Council and Reservoir Leisure Centre surrounding their “Trans and Gender Diverse Swim Nights”.  Hostile, transphobic designs such as this have a particularly serious impact on the wellbeing of Trans Asylum seekers and Refugees as many of us do not have Citizenship or Permanent residency, making us ineligible to most support services, programs and public facilities. The design of these facilities compromises our safety and integrity, making us feel more vulnerable, excluded and isolated from the community.

Inside a Gender Neutral
Change Space at Reservoir
Leisure Centre

Darebin City Council and many other local councils claim to be progressive and inclusive – declaring their council areas to be ‘Refugee Welcome Zones’ where they “Welcome Refugees”, and fly the “Pride Flag” while failing to address systemic issues such as this. Darebin City’s Trans and Gender Diverse Swim Nights are being held just a few times a year, yet, throughout the year it is unsafe for Trans people to access their leisure centres.

“These events are just being run to pay lip service to the ‘Queer Criteria’.”

Trans RISE member and asylum seeker X says.

“Regardless of how many Trans and rainbow flags you are trying to display; where they are displayed; their sizes; whether these flags are made from sticker paper, fabric or kettlebells; how many Queer and Trans events have you celebrated/commemorated etc. Your services are NOT safe for Trans people unless you are actively making proper changes to ensure they are safe and that it is safe for all oppressed people to work with your staff. Again, regardless of what you do to make you look ‘inclusive’ and ‘progressive’, your facility is NOT safe for Trans people unless it is truly safe. Further, we cannot emphasise enough that these forms of discrimination and exclusion will affect Trans Refugees and Asylum seekers far worse than most Trans people that are not from these backgrounds.”

Trans RISE member Y highlights.

We demand that Darebin City Council and ALL other councils in Melbourne, ensure ALL of their change/shower/toilet facilities in ALL of their buildings, including the Reservoir Leisure Centre be made gender neutral in the form of single stalled facilities, in a way that is safe for people from ALL cultures, backgrounds and identities to access.

* Video taken on 13th October 2019: Reservoir Leisure Centre “Gender Neutral Change Spaces” https://tinyurl.com/yxe2a8ns

Call-out for Volunteers – eX-detainees Campaigns

eX-detainees at RISE: Refugees Survivors and eX-detainees are looking for volunteers to join our Solidarity Volunteer Group to work on eX-detainee-led campaigns.

HOURS:

You will need to commit 4-6 hours each week with flexible availability and should be able to commit to this role for at least 6-12 months.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES:

  • Under the guidance of the RISE eX-detainee directors and Campaign Coordinator:
  • Assist in developing campaign strategies, messaging, outreach and implementation of RISE’s campaign strategies and associated action plans.
  • Maintain partnerships and regular communication with the RISE Campaign Coordinator.
  • Draft op-eds, action planning, briefing memos, statements, testimony, and other materials to disseminate.
  • Engage with RISE’s eX-detainee expert advocates and communicate accordingly
  • Help prepare for campaigns and plan meetings with RISE’s Campaign Coordinator.
  • Research various publications
  • Publish and edit high-quality content
  • Plan and execute campaigns to build grassroots support for the eX-detainees’ self-determination and their rights priorities ie; centering eX-detainee voices and their massages.
  • Develop advocacy tools, including fact sheets, talking points, public education materials, and position letters and policy briefs.
  • Participate in meetings and activities.
  • Provide logistical support for campaigns initiatives across departments.

KEY SELECTION CRITERIA:

  • Ability to commit to this role for at least 6 -12 months
  • Ability to commit 4-6 hours to this role weekly
  • Ability to attend weekly meetings in person in Melbourne CBD
  • Ability to take initiative and also work as part of a team
  • Ability to take responsibility and completion of all assigned tasks
  • Must declare all other commitments to avoid conflict of interests
  • Great organisational skills
  • Proficient writing skills and good communication skills in general
  • Ability to commit to occasional short-notice meetings

If you are interested in this role, please send a one-page cover letter, outlining your suitability for this role, along with your CV to RISE Campaign Coordinator at admin@riserefugee.org by 9th of Oct 2019.

RISE refused to work with Uniqlo 25/09/2019

The Global Sustainability director of UNIQLO visited RISE earlier this year to build a partnership for clothing and potentially provide jobs for RISE members at UNIQLO stores.

Due to the ongoing Indonesian workers’ unethical wages and work conditions dispute with UNIQLO, RISE directors have refused to work with, nor accept any proposals from UNIQLO.

When I met with the UNIQLO global director, I was very clear and stated that we are not like other “not-for-profit organisations”, we do not & will not work with unethical factories that use cheap labour, exploit workers and pay unethical wages to their staff, as well as the fact that we do not & will not accept any funding from the government. Though a very large proportion of our community members are chronically unemployed and there’s an extreme lack of adequate support services available to our members, it does not mean we will live off other people’s suffering, rights violation and exploitation.” says RISE Founder Ramesh Fernandez

We RISE directors are also not surprised to find out that UNHCR (a peak refugee rights body that claims to support refugees) has been working with UNIQLO unashamedly and does not even question their ethics. To reiterate our position, we will not pander to capitalist giants whose goal is to do anything possible to maximise their net worth within a minimal timeframe, resulting in money being funnelled into the hands of rich people, whilst poor people continue to suffer. Further, the capitalist principle of of these global corporations also adds to the destruction of the earth, which will only lead further to the increasing displacement of people due to climate change. Remember, your corporate crumbs does not mean anything to us.

Finally, RISE Directors thank all the volunteers who have done the research about UNIQLO to ensure RISE remains true to our core values.

eX-Detainees Day Statement, 3rd of September 2019

This is the fourth year (03/09/2019) in a row that Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees (RISE) has commemorated eX-detainees Day.  RISE is an activist, advocacy and welfare organisation led by eX-detainees who seek to fight discrimination and violence perpetrated against asylum seekers around the world. We seek to determine our own futures.  On eX-detainees Day we commemorate the ongoing political struggle, pain, suffering and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers around the world, many of whom are detained whilst seeking protection. We raise our collective voice to spread awareness and to fight this injustice.

Many of us within the eX-detainee community experienced torture, violence, neglect, and sexual abuse whilst imprisoned in detention centres throughout Australia and in off-shore locations. To this day we carry those physical and psychological scars. Permanent psychological trauma manifests in our lives. For those of us who are still detained, the injury to our minds and bodies continues. We are also threatened with being deported to countries where we face persecution for the very issues we sought refuge from.

eX-detainees Day is to be distinguished from events like ‘Refugee Week” or “Refugee Day”. These events do not seek to address the racist, structural violence that marks our lives. In contrast eX-detainees Day is initiated, controlled and directed by eX-detainees from RISE. On this day we push for long-term changes. We also raise our voices to counter the narratives of a refugee sector dominated by the voices of non-refugees.

As we commemorate the 4th annual eX-Detainees Day, we eX-detainees have launched a number of important actions and campaigns this is including:

As we always say, 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, abuse and bloodshed occurring in immigration detention centres. We condemn governments, private companies and non-profit agencies that are part of the detention supply chain. Regardless of the reasons why people seek protection, asylum seekers should not be punished for asking to be safe and protected. We seek to fight the savage refugee policies inflicted on refugees around the world, such as indefinite detention, offshore processing and lengthy visa application processes.

We eX-detainees at RISE strongly disapprove of any refugee movement, organisation, policy or individual that creates and/or supports a refugee scheme which violates our peoples’ civil rights. The only alternative to detention is no detention. We demand freedom, justice and humanitarian safeguards for all refugees and asylum seekers regardless of their form of arrival.

In addition, we urge all refugee supporters to follow our guidelines and amplify our voices. We do not need saviours to speak on our behalf.

Please share widely our ten demands which address urgent issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection from persecution. The demands identify systemic changes that need to occur in order to dismantle unjust laws and institutions that engage in and promote abuse and criminalisation of our members:

  1. An immediate end to immigration detention
  2. The immediate release of all detained refugees into the Australian community
  3. An end to forceful deportation
  4. The creation of safe passage policies for refugees throughout the world
  5. Freedom of movement and comprehensive, non- discriminatory settlement services
  6. Accountability and reparations from government and non-government organisations that have been part of the abuse supply chain.
  7. The right of refugee communities to be consulted in relation to the development of refugee policy
  8. The fair distribution in the global responsibility to protect and resettle refugees
  9. An end to non-refugees/asylum seekers and ex-detainees speaking on behalf of our community.
  10. Our voices and the campaigns and initiatives we create for ourselves are brought to the forefront; that non-detainees desist from managing us and speaking on our behalf when proposing alternative suggestions to detention centres

Please see our ten demands in further detail at: http://riserefugee.org/exdetaineesdemands/

Detainees and eX-detainees have endured many hardships. We crossed many borders and reached open seas. Instead of protection, we received punishment. Our lives were leveraged for a political purpose. We ran from persecution and found only persecution. On eX-detainees Day we demand our freedom.

RISE eX-detainee team

BOYCOTT REFUGEE WEEK / REFUGEE DAY : 18/06/2019

This is the sixth year in a row that RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees, the first eX-detainee-led, self-determined, advocacy and welfare organisation in Australia continues to call for a boycott of Refugee Week. Meanwhile, as the numbers of Refugees displaced globally continues to increase, almost every agency across the world states they “help” or advocate for Refugees and expends significant resources calling on us to “celebrate” Refugee week and World Refugee Day.

In the context of refugee week and refugee day in Australia, detainee and eX-detainee refugee voices must be centred, not the ones who have never been detained by this racist state. During this time, Refugees in this country are compelled and coerced into presenting to the public that we are “good”, “contributing” Australian citizens. We also need to address that some refugees personally choose to educate privileged and middle-class elite society speaking about their “experiences” while undermining the resistance against injustice, by detainees and eX-detainee refugees in Australia over the last 27 years. How many non-eX-detainee Refugees, let alone non-Refugees have supported eX-detainee Day on the 14th of September – a day that is not run by the UN, a privileged organisation headed mostly by non-Refugees.

So far, since the reopening of offshore detention camps on the Pacific islands of Manus and Nauru there have been 12 deaths. Meanwhile, the oppressors who established one of the most notorious immigration detention centres in the world are left out without any accountability. Hundreds of unaccountable incidents of sexual abuse and torture of Asylum seekers and Refugees under the Australian government’s watch, is not something unfamiliar. Is this how non-detainees are going to address systemic oppression and calculated discrimination during Refugee week against refugees who are coming to Australia by boat to seek protection?

Listening, reading and watching happy and sad refugee stories and running panel discussions will not address the root of refugee global displacement and persecution. There are over 60 million refugees who are displaced at the moment – how does running a panel discussion and sharing stories of trauma solve the current persecution faced by people from places like Sudan, Burma, Yemen, Syria etc? Do you still think listening to our stories is going to solve the ongoing discrimination against refugees?

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. However, these efforts have not even reduced forced displacement and the deadly expansion of the “border security” and military industrial complex. Where is the safe passage and sanctuary for Refugees crossing borders?

RISE eX-detainee Team

Open Letter from RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees to Melbourne University eX-detainees urge Melbourne University to divest from Wilson Security – 14/06/2019

To whom may it concern,

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees is a not-for-profit association and the FIRST eX-detainee, Asylum seeker and Refugee governed welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia. RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees is a unique organisation distinguished by its self-determination and community control.

On behalf of our members and governing staff from over 30 refugee and eX-detainee communities in Australia, eX-detainees from RISE, as a part of our divestment call (http://riserefugee.org/divestment-call/), urges Melbourne University to immediately divest from the detention industry and sever all financial ties with Wilson Security.

The purpose of this letter is to address the continued lack of accountability in Wilson Security’s role in the Australian government’s abusive, human rights violating asylum seeker trafficking and detention supply chain in Manus and Nauru as well as onshore detention centres.

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. Many of our members 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.

There have been countless reports and inquiries regarding the deaths, torture and sexual abuse faced by refugees who have been incarcerated within Australia’s mandatory detention centres. Australia has been a world leader in refugee detention torture for almost 30 years and this has been made possible by companies such as Wilson being allowed to operate with impunity, bring in enormous profits and escape accountability.

Wilson Security have actively chosen to participate in and enforce our communities torture and abuse in detention and should be held accountable and not allowed to continue to profit by organisations like Melbourne University who have made commitments to anti-discrimination.

Several institutions – including the National Gallery of Victoria, the Sydney Biennale, HESTA and The University of Newcastle – have already divested from detention profiteers and human rights abusers and we ask you to join them in refusing to be complicit in ongoing racist abuse.

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 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 urge the Melbourne University to divest from Wilson Security as soon as possible.

We would appreciate if you make your intentions on this matter clear by responding to admin@riserefugee.org or welcome to get in contact with any queries or questions you have about this divestment call.

Regards,
RISE eX-detainee Committee
Refugee Survivors and eX-detainees
level 1, Ross House 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
T: (03) 9639 8623 F: (03) 9650 3689 Web: www.riserefugee.org/

eX-detainees’ Message to the Refugee Sector in Australia

If you are wondering what we should do after Scott Morrison’s Liberal government winning the federal election 2019; Here are a few eX-detainees’ recommendations at RISE for you to consider. Our eX-detainee members have been saying this for years but it has been brushed aside by the whole refugee sector. Enough is Enough, regardless whether it is the Labor government or Liberal government, you have to fight for the abolition of detention centres not “small wins”.

  • Demand all refugees to be released from detention centres (offshore and onshore) to the community immediately and provide them with adequate services
  • Adopt eX-detainees’ demands http://riserefugee.org/exdetaineesdemands/
  • Do not focus on small wins and target the abolition of all offshore and onshore detention centres
  • Hold accountable those NGOs and refugee “experts” who have supported the Australian government to reopen offshore torture camps and benefited from the no advantage policy implemented in 2012 eg: Salvation Army, Save the Children, Paris Aristotle and other NGOs and Corporations listed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8oBCLooH-ZDeWVYY1doVWFDZFE/view
  • Encourage Hospitals and Universities to Divest from security companies such as Serco and Wilson Security http://riserefugee.org/divestment-call/
  • Take action to reverse all unjust refugee laws such as refoulement, mandatory detention, temporary protection visas, boat turn-back policies and etc

Remember, refugees and asylum seekers in both offshore and onshore camps are distraught and traumatised, even those who are in the community in Australia who arrived after the no advantage policy. If everyone fought for our and their freedom without only focusing on a select group of people such as kids or specific families, we would not have been in this mess RIGHT NOW.

IF FOR OVER THE LAST 27 YEARS YOUR HIT LIST INCLUDES SMALL WINS THAT ARE BAND-AIDS FOR WHITE SUPREMACIST ANTI-REFUGEE POLICIES, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.   

Nothing about Us Without Us
RISE eX-detainee Team

__________________________________________

Nothing About Us Without Us’ – While you are reading our advocacy materials, media statements and following our campaigns, please remember RISE is entirely governed by and for by eX-detainees, asylum seekers and refugees. Furthermore, all of RISE’s hard work is managed and developed by eX-detainees, asylum seekers and refugees. Support self-determination of RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees, by making a tax deductible donation TODAY via https://www.givenow.com.au /riserefugee

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Sanction Australia http://riserefugee.org/sanctionaustralia/
Detention Divestment http://riserefugee.org/divestment-call/
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