Why do we need funds?
Despite the recent change in government, there is still much work to be done to bring about changes in policy that meet Australia’s international obligations and allow asylum seekers and refugees to be treated with dignity and compassion. Refugees and asylum seekers will continue to require a high level of support from organisations such as Brigidine Asylum Support Project (BASP) as they re-establish their lives. In addition, organisations such as Refugee Action Collective (RAC-Vic) will be vital to bring about necessary legislative change. The Art Auction Fundraiser is aimed at supporting both RAC-Vic and BASP to continue their important work.
While the Medevac refugees may have been released from hotel detention around Australia and the Albanese government has promised permanent visas to more than 19,000 on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVS), the need for advocacy and material support continues.
- The men released from hotel detention were released on Bridging Visas (BVs) which need to be renewed every 6 months and are not included in the Albanese promise. This visa offers few rights and leaves these men vulnerable to deportation.
- Labor’s decision excludes more than 9700 refugees rejected under the flawed Fast Track processing system.
- Many refugees refugees are denied the right to work or study.
- Many have ongoing health issues due to neglect while detained offshore and onshore.
- Nauru continues as an open prison for approximately 110 refugees who attempted to arrive in Australia by boat.
- Refugees have been all but abandoned in PNG (109) and Indonesia (15,000).
- Many families have been separated for years while waiting for their visas to be processed.
- 172 children are in community detention.
- 6 Medevac refugees remain in immigration detention
- 266 in closed detention for arriving by boat – some for as long as 13 years
Australia’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees has received much media attention over the years. Despite some overtures from the new government, there is no sign of fundamental change to policy regarding the treatment of people who attempt to reach Australian shores by boat. Both RAC-Vic and BASP have served as vital supports and advocates for asylum seekers and refugees within the community for over 20 years.
What is the Refugee Action Collective (RAC-Vic)?
RAC-Vic stands for the humane and dignified treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with Australia’s international and humanitarian obligations. Established in 2000, RAC-Vic is a voluntary grassroots collective representing a broad cross-section of the community. It is a non-profit entity with the objective of protecting refugee rights through campaign activism and is a member of Refugee Action Network.
What does RAC-Vic do?
- Reaches out to refugees and asylum seekers in the community, and in detention within Australia, and offshore in Indonesia, Nauru and PNG.
- Organises, often in conjunction with refugees and other refugee advocates, regular rallies, speak outs and vigils against the government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees and to galvanise the refugee movement around a particular set of demands.
- Engages directly with the public by holding weekly stalls in the city and suburbs, where we distribute leaflets directly relevant to educating about the refugee cause and the selling of merchandise. We collect names on petitions and contact sheets and builds momentum for our activities.
- Holds regular public forums to educate supporters and the public and debate elements of Australian refugee policy.
- Networks with and supports other refugee groups including Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, unions, the Greens, Labor for Refugees, Friends of MITA, Refugee Action Network, Amnesty International, Catholic Refugee Task Force, Grandmothers For Refugees.
- Writes submissions to Government and other bodies (e.g., the International Criminal Court)
What is Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project? (BASP)
BASP works with, and for, people seeking asylum both in detention and in the community and believes Australia is both richer and stronger for welcoming those seeking asylum. BASP was established in Melbourne in 2001, and the current coordinators are Brigid Arthur and Libby Saunders. It is a Melbourne-based initiative of the Brigidine Sisters whose motto is Strength and Kindness and who have been engaged in education and social justice in Victoria since 1886. In 2018, BASP was incorporated into Kildare Ministries.
In conjunction with over 100 active volunteers BASP provides:
- Assistance with accommodation for 270 people, including paying rent in some cases.
- Financial support with payments for utility bills, phone bills, medical costs, school requirements.
- Hospitality and practical support for asylum seekers.
- A pantry for people to collect food.
- Household goods and furniture.
- Assistance with legal applications and other matters.
- Picnics and arrange for some holidays – in partnership with some other organisations.
- A friendship program where many families and individuals have a volunteer to help them with whatever is possible in terms of addressing the needs of people who are trying to survive what has usually been a very traumatic settling into a new country experience.
- Actively networks with like-minded individuals and groups who are working for justice for asylum seekers.
- Promotes advocacy for the rights of asylum seekers.
- Engages in education about asylum seekers’ issues.
For further information visit BASP’s website.