In the next sitting of Parliament, the Coalition intends to bring on a vote on the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019. The Bill has passed the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate. While framed as a simple adjustment to the Migration Act 1958 (the Act), the Bill would in fact significantly expand the character-based powers of visa cancellation and refusal, making them dangerously and unworkably broad. If passed into law, the Bill would increase the number of people in immigration detention and facing removal from the country. Both Labor and the Greens recommended the Bill be rejected, after a Senate Inquiry was warned of its dangers. The passage of the Bill now depends on the vote of unaligned Senators. The Bill is bad law and should not be passed. It is deliberately unclear, concentrates power in the hands of the Minister and his delegates, and will harm families and communities. Contact your Senator.
Members of Blue Mountains Support Group celebrate World Refugee Day 2020 by creating a virtual Welcome Way. We shared photos and ourselves and our families at home and in our community. We posted our images online and on our fences. We all did it in our own way. Watch this post as ore images will be posted during World Refugee Day 2020
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
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! "
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.
Mandeep* was in detention for nearly 10 years. During his time at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, his mental health and the injuries he suffered fleeing civil war at home slowly worsened. BMRSG volunteers visited Mandeep during this time, campaigned for his release and are now supporting him in the community as he transitions from detention to living in and negotiating his way around Sydney. Find out how BMRSG supports those who come seeking safety.