If you watched Q&A on Monday evening [10/10/16] you would have seen retired major general Jim Molan, who was one of the architects of the government’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy under Tony Abbott’s leadership in 2013, declare complete pride in Australia’s current refugee polices.
With people like Jim Molan advising the government it is abundantly clear we still have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve any change to refugee policy that respects human rights.
While there have been significant changes for the better in the public’s attitude to refugees, during this year, our political leaders have not moved. Beginning earlier this year with the #LetThemStay protests at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to keep Baby Asha in Australia, with ongoing protests, the bravery of Doctors, Teachers, Aid Workers and others releasing the reports of horrendous abuse in the Nauru detention centres, there is a realisation that Australia cannot maintain these dreadful processes.
The Government's current policy is based on the premise that Nauru and Manus Island detention centres function as a deterrent. This policy is completely responsible for the dreadful human rights abuses that have been all too well documented. This deterrent requirement has also been extended to about 29,000 people already in Australia who are on bridging visas that, while they are not physically detained, it has the same mental effect.
RAC is committed to the continued organisation of public protest to keep this issue front and centre of the political process but we need to do more. The government and opposition need to be continually hearing from their constituents that the current refugee policies must be dramatically improved.
To achieve this we would like each of you to take some personal action.
Politicians react to personal contact and we would like to overwhelm them with it.
So here are some suggestions of action you can take that will help those refugees trapped by our current policies.
1. Contact your local member. (Both LNP and Labor need to hear from us)
a. The best contact methods in order of impact are: i. Personally visit their office and talk to them ii. Call them on the phone iii. Write a hand written note iv. Write an email
b. Contact information can be found at http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members
c. Remember to also contact your Senators
2. Write to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton.
3. Be active on Social Media posting articles and comments about refugee issues.
4. Talk to friends and family when the opportunity arises.
These communications do not have to be long and detailed, just let them know that you do not support the current policy position and that you want to see it changed for the better.
If you do want to be more detailed there is information available on the RAC web site.
If your passion for action needs a little help please read this list of refugee facts from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). Since we hear so much about refugee’s as a welfare burden facts 2, 4, 5 and 20 are especially critical.
20 quick FACTS you can use and share
1. 13,750 - the total number of people we settle from our Refugee & Humanitarian Program, 31% less than under Gillard in 2013 (20,000)
2. $9.6 Billion spent on Manus/Nauru & turning people back at sea between 2013 and 2016
3. 150,000 - the number of people Australia could have resettled from refugee camps for $9.6 billion
4. $500,000 the approximate cost to imprison one person on Nauru or Manus
5. $15,000 the approximate cost to care for that same person in the Australian community
6. 53 children in detention
7. 68th in world for number of refugees we host in Australia
8. 0.99% of world’s refugees is all we settle
9. 1,086 incidents of child abuse in #NauruFiles
10. 0 - the number of people charged on Nauru for abusing kids
11. 823 refugees imprisoned on #Manus
12. 306 refugees imprisoned on #Nauru
13. 504 refugees in detention in #Australia
14. 454 days on average in detention in Australia
15. 26th in the world for number of refugees we settle
16. 31st in world based on capita for refugees we settle
17. 46th in the world based on GDP for refugees we settle
18. 1 - Australia is the only country in the world to indefinitely imprison children seeking asylum
19. July 1st 2014 - the date the LNP stopped safely resettling UNHCR assessed refugees from Indonesia
20. $5.7 Billion - what has been projected that Australia will spend between 2016-2020 to keep Manus and Nauru open and turn back people at sea (equivalent of UNHCR global budget)