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.
She heard about individual cases at Villawood Detention Centre, including a man who had been there for 11 years.
“I’m here to hear about individual cases at Villawood and in the community, and to see where I, and Susan Templeman can lend a voice and make representations and see if we can get some of these circumstances resolved,” Ms Keneally said.
Senator Keneally said that the nature of migration was changing from permanent migrants to one relying on temporary migrants. We used to be a country that celebrated a fair go, it was a land of opportunity but this had all changed. She suggested that we should stop using the terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ to differentiate between people according to their method of arrival.
Ms Keneally said that labor had taken a policy of Community Sponsorship to the last election and that this policy should be fleshed out for the next election.
In answer to question she said that groups like ours should target politicans, from both sides whose minds we might be able to change. She also said that our group could look at the cuts to the SSRS benefit had had on those seeking asylum. Victoria has provided some support but NSW has not. We could target some State politicians re providing some support.
BMRSG’s Roger Grealy said we appreciated being able to put urgent case studies to Ms Keneally and were looking forward to building a strong relationship with her.
Download: Report in the Blue Mountains Gazette
Photos thanks to Julie Martin, Eunice Goodberg, BM Gazette