A Place Called Home – The forgotten refugees

Posted: September 24, 2013 in Charity or Community Service Posts, Politics

A lot can happen in just a couple of weeks.

Since Tony Abbott became the beneficiary of Labor losing the election on September 7th 2013, quite a bit has happened.

The axe has already fallen with some major heads of government departments sacked.

We have discovered that AusAID is to have drastic cuts put in place to ensure that the worlds neediest feel the pain of the Coalitions arrival.

The entire board of NBN co has resigned, thus paving the way for Turnbull to start erecting mirrors and firing up the smoke machines that make up his broadband policy. Never mind, the ink is probably still drying on Murdoch’s agreements to lease out his Foxtel lines to the government for broadband, giving him control of our internet as well as our news.

We have seen Abbott appoint himself as the Minister for Women’s Affairs while ensuring that there is only one woman in his Ministerial team, and only one woman in a dozen Parliamentary Secretaries. Given the lack of women in Abbott’s caucus I would say he has failed as a Minister already.

Excuses about being appointed due to merit rather than a quota system not only acts as an insult to female members of past caucus’, but are also hypocritical as the Coalition have a quota system in place for National Party members, as well as for MP’s from individual states.

Promises about ending the “Carbon Tax” immediately have now stretched out to within three years.

Immediately or within 3 years.... whichever comes last....

Immediately or within 3 years…. whichever comes last….

So what about Abbott’s big promise to stop the boats.

Well, this policy has had more face-lifts than the entire Jackson 5 combined.

Scott Morrison has continually told us that they were using the proven policies used under John Howard’s regime that was responsible for the “children overboard” fiasco, however these policies seem to have changed somewhat drastically.

Since the “Stop The Boats” policy and range of bumper stickers were introduced, we have seen the policy bend to “Turn Back The Boats”, something that would be unnecessary if they had indeed been stopped. We now have also been told we won’t even find out if boats are in fact being turned around.

Just heading out to move the goalposts...

Just heading out to move the goalposts…

Since then there has been towing the boats back to Indonesia, buying the boats off the people smugglers and giving them a second pay packet, paying poor Indonesians for information, building transit ports in Indonesia, and not letting the public know about boat arrivals until the Minister feels it is necessary to brief the public.

Whilst I’m sure Scott Morrison sitting on asylum seeker arrivals information and waiting for a day when it’s old news, or releasing information on a busy news day so it gets lost may do wonders for their spin doctors, it won’t stop any boats at all. The excuse about people smugglers not getting the arrival information is utter crap, they will still be able to get it when Morrison decides to finally bless us with its release.

This is the kind of censorship of information that we expect from North Korea, not Australia. One can only imagine the outcry if this had been done under Gillard or Rudd.

Fans of the Coalitions new censorship of asylum seeker information applaud the policy

Fans of the Coalitions new censorship of asylum seeker information applaud the policy

A rich nation paying poor and desperate people cash to dob in their mates and neighbours is a brilliant idea and sure to not bring in false information. It certainly worked a treat in Afghanistan for the US extraordinary extradition programme, how many lawsuits are they up to now?

Funny though, I don’t remember any of these policies under John Howard. Wasn’t it his policies we were going to be reverting to? Has that changed now as well?

Anyway, Indonesia seem real impressed with the carry-on from the Coalition, labelling their policies as “Offensive”.

Not that our two nations have policies that “conflict” or anything. That would be much too harsh a word to use for the Coalition who have appointed a 3 Star General and describe their policy as a military operation.

5 Star screw up if you ask me…

Anyway, we hear a hell of a lot about asylum seekers before they arrive here, but what about after they arrive?

Those who are granted asylum status in Australia are not seeking asylum because they have come from a background of luxury, or a comfortable existence, yet we seem to forget about them.

Asylum Seekers arrive in Australia with a vast number of issues that they are by and large left to deal with by themselves.

Thankfully there are organisations that are there to help although most are faith based and run by a religious organisation.

Today I wanted to share a little about one that isn’t. Their name is Global Backyard.


Global Backyard was founded in 2010 by Ruby Madan, who previously set up and ran the NSW government-funded Refugee Mentoring Programme until funding dried up after a change of government in NSW in 2011.

Today Global Backyard helps to guide refugees through their struggles and assisting them with becoming settled in Australia.

Some of the issues that asylum seekers arrive with are things like post traumatic stress as many are coming from war zones or have lived under an oppressive regime. Many arrive with children who are behind in their education. Others have qualifications that are not recognised in our country, skill shortages, or pharmaceutical requirements.

All of them arrive with a need to urgently find a job, accommodation, and friends.

Many are forced to attempt to navigate these issues with language difficulties as well.

This is where Global Backyard becomes involved.

One of the younger members of the Global Backyard community

One of the younger members of the Global Backyard community

Global Backyard is a not for profit charity and have helped countless numbers of refugee’s with more issues than you can probably imagine.

Global Backyard is composed of a team of volunteers who give refugee’s the one on one support that they need to do all manner of tasks big and small however mundane.

On a practical level, I help Namlo fill out official forms, look for work and apply for grants for the organisation he has set up to help Tibetan people. I generally try and explain how things work in the Australian system. My friend is an intelligent, educated, resourceful man who deserves the dignity of doing things for himself with the help of a little bit of local knowledge, insight and support from a native resident along the way.

 Global Backyard volunteer Patricia on Tibetan refugee Namlo

Some of the countries that Global backyard has helped refugees from are:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bhutan
  • Burundi
  • Iraq
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Tibet
  • Uganda
  • Vietnam

Global Backyard has helped many refugees adjust to life in a new country when starting with absolutely nothing.

The work being done is so important that in 2011 Global Backyards services won them the NSW Building Inclusive Communities Award which is sponsored by Macquarie University and the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW.

From Global Backyards 2012 calendar

From Global Backyards 2012 calendar

With the Coalition now in power at Federal level as well as State there is likely to be even less government funding for services, and as such an even greater reliance on the not for profit charity groups.

With this in mind Global Backyard need our help to provide their vital services.

Tax deductible donations can be made via the below bank account details.

Global Backyard Refugee Network Inc.

 BSB # 062 220

 Acc # 1018 6500

Or for those who have the skills and time as well as the heart to make a difference, there are a number of areas where volunteers are needed. Areas such as

  •  TSOL Teachers
  • Migration Law Experts
  • Fundraisers
  • IT and Web design and management specialists 
  • Social enterprise facilitators

As City Of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore explains it

 “The Global Backyard Refugee Network’s efforts to help refugees and promote acceptance play an important role in changing the way most people see our newest Australians. Global Backyard supports refugees by creating educational, social and workplace opportunities. It helps vulnerable people connect with others and rebuild their lives, and helps educate the community about the refugee experience.”

 If that sounds like something you would like to be a part of then you can contact them via info@globalbackyard.com.au however they are understaffed and busy so don’t be put off if you don’t receive a response in a hurry.

Whatever you can do to help will be greatly appreciated as these people tend to arrive in need of a helping hand rather than a hand out.

Now that Tony Abbott is in the lodge, this will be needed more than ever. After all we all know what Abbott says when it comes to a helping hand….

 “Look mum, no hands”


Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

  1. Marilyn says:

    Since the refugee convention was ratified and came into international law in 1954 it has been utterly legal for anyone to arrive in Australia and seek protection under the law whether we like it or not.
    In 1992 the parliament enshrined the refugee convention into Articles 36 and 65 of the migration act and there it still sits regardless of how often the Canberra Press Gallery, Fairfax, the ABC and Murdoch media choose to ignore the facts.
    In 2001 when the TAMPA was asked by Australia to rescue hundreds of people on the sinking Palapa John Howard went outside that law and set up trafficking routes to Nauru and Manus Island to hold just 1600 people, he forced 500 back to Indonesia and killed 370 people in the process, wasted $2 billion and then many of the refugees ended up in Australia damaged and suing us.
    The federal court case brought on by Eric Vadarlis and Julian Burnside for the people on their way to Nauru was won and the government was ordered to bring the people back to Australia – they were on Australian territory and were being trafficked against their will at gun point to a spot in the Pacific where there were no refugee laws and no protections.
    This speech a few years later by Julian gives a good outline of how the case worked out.

    Howard ignored the courts, then the HIgh court reprehensibly decided not to hear an appeal to bring them back because they were already in Nauru and out of our jurisdiction.
    It took until the Gillard government under Chris Bowen decided to try and make a dirty trading deal with Malaysia that the removal of people from our soil to other countries where we know they are not protected was brought to the high court. The court rightly found that the deal was invalid because it breached the refugee convention and other Australian laws. That meant also that Howard’s trading deals with Manus Island and Nauru had been unlawful and therefore invalid all along.
    Rudd, with the agreement of the liberal party, closed Nauru and Manus Island and brought believed on advice that shoving refugees to Nauru and Manus Island was unlawful, which had been the position of the UNHCR from the first day it was mooted.
    Since late 2008 the Iraqi war has gone to even further hell in a hand basket with christians and other minority groups like the Kurds forced to run for their lives, Sri Lanka’s vicious civil war ended with the massacre of 40,000 or more civilians, the jailing of 300,000 and the near total destruction of the Tamil areas as we have seen on our TV screens and in reports from Amnesty INternational and every other human rights organisation in the world with Australia also calling for an inquiry by the government into gross human rights abuses by the Rajapaksa regime.
    In 2008 the Taliban spread across Afghanistan and Pakistan with the displacement of 3 million Pakistanis and the increased and continuing genocide of the Hazara. Pakistan has withdrawn all protection now for 2.6 million Afghans after more than 30 years. This Oxfam report details the plight of those forced to flee within Pakistan.

    In 2009 Iran had a widely known bogus election that sees a major crack down on dissidents to this day causing more and more to flee their homes to see safety.
    Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, Egypt x2 have all had uprisings causing millions to flee their homes so Gillard’s answer was three old white public servants tasked to find a way to “stop the boats”, even though over 95% of the people involved were found to be refugees so what we were doing again was wilfully turning away people we knew very well did face a very real fear of persecution.
    The three so-called experts decided that breaking the law to start Manus and Nauru again must be done regardless of the lack of human rights protections, that the country must be excised from itself, that refugees must be granted no advantage if they come by sea but those pesky refugees don’t see things from some safe lounge room.
    They also suggested no family reunion which was a recipe for disaster and has seen thousands more intact families arrive since it was started in 2012, we have seen over 20,000 people locked up or dumped in poverty without a single claim being assessed and still those pesky refugees think coming here is better than staying to have their heads cut off or be blown to bits or tortured in Malaysia or Indonesia.
    The new myth started by the Daily Telegraph and repeated endlessly by the Canberra press is that Rudd dismantled a brilliant and successful policy that stopped the boats but this committee looking into the report by the three old white men stacked up to scrutiny;
    They literally dismissed the report with three sentences:
    The evidence that this approach will work is not yet supported by any
    downward trend in boat arrivals. While the committee is sympathetic to the view
    that this is still a ‘work in progress’, it is not the committee’s role to assess on a
    hypothetical basis whether implementation of the Expert Panel’s recommendations
    in their entirety at some point in the future would satisfactorily meet Australia’s
    human rights obligations. On the basis of the evidence before it, the committee
    considers that the measures as currently implemented carry a significant risk of
    being incompatible with a range of human rights. To the extent that some of those
    rights may be limited, the committee considers that the reasonableness and
    proportionality of those limitations have not been clearly demonstrated”
    Yet the myth is that Rudd dismantled a lawful and legitimate policy – even though our own high court found that to be illegal.
    It’s amazing how they live in their ignorant bubble isn’t it where facts don’t apply.
    And of course since Gillard reopened Nauru and Manus Island they have been forced to remove families due to illness and terrible conditions, forced to start assessments and the number of people arriving doubled and then tripled because those pesky refugees don’t want to stay home and die and don’t want to stay in our rancid prisons being tortured in Indonesia as shown in this report.
    This story shows that Rudd was right to dismantle the dreadful prisons on Nauru and Manus Island and Gillard and the Canberra press are all completely wrong – Rudd dismantled a criminal human trading exercise after all. And now they continue to claim that Indonesia has to “stop the boats” even though the government has been aware for over a year that Pakistan is taking away all protection for Afghans and that some will come our way.

    This is Gillard’s legacy, do not forget that Pete.

  2. oldfart says:

    “After all we all know what Abbott says when it comes to a helping hand….”

    Except if it’s his own hands helping himself to the public cookie jar to cover the costs of his photo ops and “volunteering” in all maner of guises

    Channel nine news this morning tipped off customs boat came into darwin harbour undercover of darkness with 19 refugees on board. Oh hang on their bat wasnt with them, must have been turned around. Man of his word, young Abbott the boat must have been turned around, just not the refugees.
    I’ve never felt ashamed to be Australian before. We never treated people in need like this before.

    • Marilyn says:

      WE have been treating people just like this since Bob Hawke started the first refugee prison in 1989 to keep out Cambodians who decided that the Khmer Rouge were not just naughty boys and came to seek our help as refugees. Read the book Borderline by Peter Mares and see the facts as they have been for 26 years now. Australia loves to ratify human rights conventions and then we just chuck them in the bin.

  3. clarittee says:

    You won’t know what went to the bottom. People and boats. Not a good picture.

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