So many people have worked in many different ways to make the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group the effective, compassionate organisation it is today. We rely entirely on the support of volunteers to run the organisation and help us meet our objectives. Over the years our volunteers come and go for many reasons and we record below our thanks and appreciation to those who have assisted us in the past.
Life Member Grant Medaris – a wise and gentle man
Grant Medaris brings many skills to our work of supporting those seeking asylum and refugees.
I first met Grant about five years ago when he and I regularly travelled together to visit people locked up in Villawood Detention Centre. He was greatly loved by refugees in Villawood. They felt his compassion, generosity and humanity.
Grant also spent some years on the management committee of BMRSG professionally helping our deliberations with his background in management.
Grant is the employment officer for BMRSG and has a wide range of skills in resume preparation, communicating with employers, determining what area of work best suits a particular refugee.
Grant was a valuable member of the consultative committee on the redesign of the website where he brought his knowledge of the organisation, refugee issues and experience of working with people.
Grant is a wise and gentle man who has been a big help in advising his fellow volunteers on the resolution of refugee issues. He is always available to listen to thorny problems re online media and issues affecting those seeking asylum.
Grant and his wife Jan have had refugees live in their home and have provided delicious dinners for other refugees.
They also have spent many, many hours on street stalls, marches and rallies drawing attention to the plight of those in detention and supporting the human rights of refugees.
by Roger Grealy and Pat Rayner
Farewell to the wonderful Kath – 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!
Kath’s ability to make friends and provide a sense of warmth and acceptance will be greatly missed especially in the current visiting environment where board and card games are also not allowed in. Kath didn’t just visit refugees in detention she supported them with friendship when they were released into the community and hosted people in her home.
Her indomitable energy in attending demonstrations, her political insights and connections, her support of so many of the causes for good in the mountains have had reaching effects.
Her farewell in November was attended by many of the asylum seekers that she has befriended and who saw her as their Aussie mum. We miss you already Kath!
Vale Maurice Brady
Maurice worked for many years at BMCC as a social worker and team leader. He was passionate about social justice and gender equality. Over the years Maurice has supported many community organizations including BMRSG. His wife Suzie van Opdorp is also a keen supporter of BMRSG and was honoured as a life- time member at the 2015 AGM.
We express our condolences to Suzie, their children and grand-children.
A Memorial Fund for assisting survivors of domestic violence has been established in Maurice’s honour. https://www.youcaring.com/helpingsurvivorsofdomesticviolence-725123
Vale Tony Sharp
Tony was an exceptional man, full of life, warmth and energy. It was impossible not to like him.
He gave generously of his time, money, energy to those in need; used his intelligence and ingenuity to achieve positive results for others. Had a huge capacity for work and was a brilliant chef, manager and writer.
We will miss him greatly.
Tony’s contribution to BMRSG:
- Was a frequent visitor to Villawood IDC and a friend to many detainees.
- Bought many items e.g. sleeping bags for asylum seekers, often from his own pocket.
- Delivered furniture and other items to asylum seekers.
- Led three sausage sizzles at Bunnings Penrith to raise funds.
- Organised two major fundraising dinners, acting as chef and training asylum seekers as cooks and waiters.
- Led a team of BMRSG volunteers to cook a dinner for 150 people for a memorial concert
- Was an active member of the committee
- Wrote a brilliant cook book and sold copies to benefit BMRSG.