Melbourne-based welfare and advocacy organisation, RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees), has just launched their 2013 federal election campaign entitled, Stop the Rot.
The campaign aims to provide the Australian public with accurate research and information that cuts through the misinformation and politicisation surrounding the issue of refuge and asylum in the lead-up to the election.
RISE, which is the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia to be run and governed by people who are former refugees, asylum seekers, and immigration detainees- knows first-hand the detrimental affects the politicisation of asylum seekers has on the lives of its members.
“For decades, Australian politicians have been stoking fear by misleading the public for political gain, by painting asylum seekers arriving on boats as ‘queue jumpers’ – unscrupulous illegal entrants without morals, capable of throwing even their children into the sea.” Says CEO and founder of RISE, Ramesh Fernandez, who is himself a refugee and ex-detainee.
The document addresses Australia’s proportional global refugee intake, the financial costs of detention, the human cruelty of the ‘no advantage’ policy and the desperate situation of those who have been refused asylum and deported. In addition to those struggling to survive in detention and in the community on bridging visas.
“Stop the Rot campaign de-politicises the debate that has made refugees the victims of the deceit and political opportunism of this election,” adds Fernandez. “It must be the voices of refugees that lead the challenge to the lies and fear-mongering of Australia’s political leaders.”
Volunteer advocate at RISE and co-creator of Stop the Rot, Areej Nur, says,
“What we’ve put together might take a little longer to read, but the truth is, this issue is incredibly complex. It deserves people’s serious attention.”
“A large part of what is so ugly about the conversation around asylum in Australia is the tendency to reduce everything to sound-bites. We’ve made a conscious effort to resist that.”
Nur says her advocacy work with RISE is one of the ways she copes, as the national policy on this issue becomes ever-more draconian and inhumane.
“RISE is a special place because not only is it run by our communities, it is run solely by volunteers and that really makes a difference, because we’re all incredibly passionate”.
Stop the Rot campaign will run until this federal election.
Ramesh Fernandez 0430 007 586 or @RameshFernandez
Areej Nur 0433 019 733 or @areejnur