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A Refugee Week Message from the Traditional Owners

The Blue Mountains City Council Aboriginal Advisory Council (AAC) have said that they “support the idea to recognise International Refugee Day through events particularly highlighting some of the extremely difficult challenges faced by refugees.” This is a powerful message of fellow feeling coming from a people who experience continued dispossession and racism Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group would like to thank the ACC for their gracious response.

Marie Standen’s refugee advocacy recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

On Monday, Marie Standen from Faulconbridge was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service to refugees, and to the community of the Blue Mountains. "I must admit it's a great honour, there isn't any doubt about that," she said. The 89-year-old is enormously pleased with the group's accomplishments over the years. They visit refugees in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, and through extensive fundraising they have been able to help refugees settling in the community with the cost of education, paying bills, or replacing worn out clothes or shoes, or when their children might be in need of new glasses.

COVID-19 and BMRSG’s Response

Like everyone else the BMRSG community faced huge challenges when we were told to self isolate. But the refugees on various temporary visas faced much greater challenges. Distressing stories are coming through all the time about situations where jobs have been lost; people have been exposed to COVID 19 and expected to self isolate in crowded accommodation. Those on bridging visas, and that is most households we visit, have virtually no Covid19 related entitlements or general Centrelink access. They also may or may not have Medicare entitlements

Palm Sunday, Online Action for Refugees

Blue Mountains Refugee Supporters joined the online Action for Refugees on Palm Sunday. Supporters from Blackheath to Sydney showed their support by posting a photo of themselves hold a sign. Some, who found taking a selfie while holding a sign too difficult, photographed their pets. Kathie Herbert, Deputy Chair of BMRSG, who started BMRSG support in Katoomba, said, "Social distancing protocols were strictly adhered to! "

An Incredibly Tough Family – BMRSG Helps

This is an amazingly tough family! We first met them in 2013.  They are still in the High Court appeal process so receive no Centrelink payments or Medicare. When we first met. Aamaal* was 12 years old and was the person who liaised with us as she had the best English.  There is a younger brother Chandra.  Neither parent spoke any English.

BMRSG volunteers meet Kristina Keneally and Andrew Giles in Springwood

Ms Keneally took the opportunity, with Andrew Giles, the shadow minister for multicultural affairs, to meet members of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, while in the area visiting Mt Tomah and Bilpin with the Labor shadow ministry in the wake of the bushfires. "It was a perfect opportunity for Andrew Giles and I to come meet with this group, particularly to discuss the range of issues they are campaigning on and for me personally, it was a great morale boost to know that there are so many people in the community who want to ensure a just and fair outcome for asylum seekers and refugees," Ms Keneally said.