Six members of BMRSG attended the Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) National Conference held in Wodonga in April 2018.
One of the BMRSG members, Roger Grealy has written of his experience of this conference.
Gillian Triggs, the guest speaker at the opening dinner, said that we can’t rely on the Liberal or Labor Parties to do the right thing by refugees so we need to develop a Bill of Rights to give judges the legal tools they need to protect the freedom/ liberty of asylum seekers and refugees.
Madeleine Gleeson from the Kaldor Centre talked about the need to resolve Manus and Nauru first; she said that 1,700 people arrived with resilience but many have now been broken. The immediate solution she said is to bring all children and adults with mental health issues here to the mainland on the next plane. The rest should be brought here before Christmas and put on Bridging Visas. Eighty per cent of those on Nauru and Manus have PTSD according to health professionals from UNHCR.
Behrouz Boochani won the Tampa Award to much applause.
Walkley award winning journalist Jamie Kronburg, in his talk, Media in Regional and Rural Communities talked about giving young refugees a voice, about a memorial service they had for Reza Baratai in Beechworth; about how his community holds refugee welcome picnics – attended by Bhutanese, Nepalese & Afghanis.
He suggested that to get better media for our issue we need to develop a relationship with one journalist, not necessarily the editor, have coffee with them, get photos that are eye catching to accompany stories, perhaps ask a performer or a musician to help get good images and choreograph them;
To counter government attempts to depersonalise refugees we need to produce personal, human interest stories and also use local notables to boost stories e.g. local bishop, non political figures
Armidale branch of RAR is organising an ongoing protest in Canberra Details contact Jan Wyles
Blue Mountains local Emeritus Professor Stuart Hill was a speaker on Transformational Change.