Joy Connor, Deputy Chair BMRSG visited politicians in Canberra with Marie Sellstrom President of Rural Australians for Refugees. First they met with Peter Dutton's main advisor and an advisor then they met with Shayne Neumann, Ged Kearney, Sue Templeman and the Advisor to Kristina Keneally. At these meetings they discussed Immigration Detention, the use of handcuffs on people seeking asylum when they went to medical and counselling appointments, SRSS, resettlement, The Amendments to the Migration Act, the RAR Statement on People Seeking Refuge and Asylum and the Andrew Wilkie Bill.
Blue Mountains locals were welcomed to a traditional Tibetan cultural celebration to commemorate the 14th Dalai Lama’s 83rd birthday last Friday at the old library in Katoomba. The event gave exiled Tibetans living in the Blue Mountains an opportunity to thank the Blue Mountains community and celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday with the taste, colour, music and dance of Tibet. There are approximately 50 Tibetan adults and children living in the Blue Mountains and many arrived in Australia on humanitarian visas. All of them are refugees or children of refugees who fled Tibet after the Chinese occupation in 1950 and made the long trek over the Himalayas to reach safety in Nepal. The first Tibetan refugee settled in Katoomba nine years ago and others arrived after the Dalai Lama visited the Blue Mountains in 2015. In the last six months some families have arrived directly from India on humanitarian visas. Ms Dhongdue praised the local community saying that Tibetan refugees had been ‘embraced with warmth and love’.
BMRSG, led by Joy Connor, ran a packed out workshop, Changing Hearts and Minds. Participants came up with a long list of activities which they had successfully tried in their home towns. The list on butcher's paper was shared with all on the wall and other participants added to it.
In this the 3rd year of the Youth Shoebox Project even more were received. More than 203 were delivered to children and young people seeking refuge and asylum. This project is a joint effort with Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) - working together to spread love and support.
Mountain Activist off to Bourke Bourke has gained a treasure, while the Blue Mountains, especially the Refugee Support Group Detention Centre visiting team, have lost Kath Sneddon, one of their great stalwarts. Refugees in Sydney have lost a great advocate. Kath’s cheerful energy has lightened many a depressing day at the Villawood Detention Centre while her home cooking and great free range stuffed eggs were a great favourite with home sick refugees stuck in indefinite detention – until Minister Dutton’s Border Force decided home cooked food was a security risk!
Members of Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group gathered on Saturday 11 November for the 2017 Annual General Meeting. Chairman Hal Ginges congratulated members and their Committee for a busy and productive year, with highlights such as financial help for asylum seekers in their visa applications, and $130,000 distributed during the year to refugee families and Villawood detainees. Hal Ginges thanked two of the founding members of BMRSG who are standing down from their long term positions on the committee and taking up new roles.
"The Turnbull government has introduced an amendment to Parliament to remove strict secrecy provisions governing Australia’s immigration detention system. The move has been described as “a major victory for refugee advocates who challenged the laws in the High Court”. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton introduced amendments to the 2015 Australian Border Force Act that previously threatened detention centre workers with two years in prison if they spoke out about neglect or abuse." Susan Templeman MP Member for Macquarie spoke on this Bill.
This is the first of a series of articles on the huge range of support work undertaken by BMRSG volunteers. Part 1 Employment. This is a major problem for those asylum seekers living in the community. This story has a great outcome.
Blue Mountains resident Paris Floyd tells her story of fleeing Laos as an eight month old baby to life as a fashion designer, business woman and mother. #RefugeesContribute
The 2nd article on the work of BMRSG in 2015. Read about more of the diverse activities undertaken by BMRSG volunteers.