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Ballina Region for Refugees invites you to submit up to three poems to this year’s Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize. This year’s theme is ‘Time for a Home'.

The BR4R Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize celebrates the positive contributions that refugees make to our communities. It acknowledges the circumstances that forced them to flee their homelands and request refuge in Australia.

We welcome poems of up to 50 lines that consider the experiences, aspirations and hopes of refugees and asylums seeking a home in which to build new, meaningful and safe lives.

The 2021 BBR4R Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize takes inspiration from the #TIMEFORAHOME campaign. It is time in Australia to release all refugees from detention. It is time for a permanent resettlement solution. It is time to give our refugees a home. 

Poets may send in up to three poems. Poems can be sent until the closing date of Sunday 15th August 2021. Entry is free and is open to anyone living in Australia. BR4R especially welcomes poems from refugees and those seeking asylum in Australia.

Cash prizes will be awarded to first ($300), second ($150), and third ($50) place winners. Winning entries and selected runners-up will be published in Social Alternatives.

Further information, guidelines & conditions, and entry form are available at

Welcome to June and the start of winter here.

Last winter, with restrictions limiting our activities, we were facing the very real prospect that our funds would soon be depleted. In May 2020 we were given a surprise, but very welcome, donation of $10,000 by a generous local businessman. This year, although we have resumed some of our activities, we are still not running the full range of events we have previously held. It was with some amazement then that we received another donation of $10,000 at almost the same time this year. This donation was from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The donation was made possible thanks to a friend of the donor, Sue Eaton from East Ballina Lions. Here's some of what our Treasurer, Rik Dillon, had to say on hearing about this amazing donation:
All of the publicity, activities, talks, promotions and support, all those things that may have felt like we were hitting our heads on brick walls, all the flag-waving or whatever, ALL of these things have raised awareness and influenced people and stirred their empathy.  It is all those things that bring to fruition such donations.
It's all those things that bring to mind the plight of refugees and BR4R when such a benefactor wants to support a deserving cause.

Well done - firstly to the anonymous donor, and then to all currently working in BR4R, as well as those who have worked in the past to build BR4R into what it is today."

Well said, Rik.

BR4R has long enjoyed the support of East Ballina Lions with our monthly market stall. This additional support, through this recent most generous donation via Sue of Lions, will enable us to offer more immediate practical support to refugees left in limbo, as well as support legal representation of refugees facing consideration of their visas by June this year. In our next newsletter we will  provide full details of how this money has been disbursed. Meantime, our heartfelt thanks to Sue and her friend. We are proud to be part of such a caring, generous community.

June also sees Refugee Week (20th -26th June) where we celebrate the contributions refugees have made to Australia as well as raise awareness of those still stuck in limbo. The theme this year is United for Freedom. In the newsletter you can read details of local events during this week, including a film screening by the Uki group.

If you would like to organise a film screening in Ballina, a music night, a feast, or any other event to raise awareness and/or funds, please get in touch with us through our website. We'd love to hear your ideas. We can provide support/mentoring.

Warmest regards, Ruth




In Australia, Refugee Week will run from Sunday, June 20 to Saturday, June 26, 2021. Every year, Refugee Week is scheduled during the week that includes the 20th of June, which is World Refugee Day.

Refugee Week is an opportunity to celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees and people seeking asylum in our communities, and to raise awareness of the barriers they encounter. BR4R welcomes, respects and supports people arriving in Australia seeking safety and looking to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, political decisions continue to result in poverty and exclusion.


The Refugee Week 2021 theme of "Unity - The Way Forward", reminds us that only by working together can we build a more cohesive community-a community that upholds the rights, freedoms and safety that refugees and people seeking asylum deserve in order to flourish in Australia.

We are planning the following activities over Refugee Week this week:

20th June - The handing over a recent S10, 000 donation to BR4R truly representing the power of community.

21st June- Our President, Ruth Henderson, talks with Mandy Nolan on Mandy’s live Facebook stream at 7pm to raise awareness of the barriers faced by refugees and importantly about the positive contributions made by refugees and people seeking asylum in our communities. You can read about some of those contributions at

24th June- BR4R invites all to participate in a combined rally with Amnesty International outside Kevin Hogan’s office at 4pm to question and challenge those government political decisions continuing to result in poverty and exclusion of those legally and internationally accepted as refugees.

 If you have any other ideas, please contact us through our website. 



We reported in our last newsletter that we had had a meeting with Kevin Hogan about helping refugees settle in our area.  Kevin is the local member for Page.  He agreed to write on our behalf to Alex Hawke, the Minister for Immigration.

The reply to this letter was very encouraging.  The Minister noted that " there is a strong cohort of Australians across the country who are ready and willing to support refugees to settle into their communities." and he " anticipates being able to offer an update in the coming months".  

The full text of the letter is reproduced at the end of this message with permission from both writer and recipient. 


Ballina Region for Refugees 

Sponsorship group at a training session

(L to R: Sandra Mondange, Ron Stalenberg, Vicky King, Stanley Yeo, Joanna Matricardi, Carol McCormack, Gunela Astbrink, Jennifer Richards, Bill Boyd)



Morrison's 'unconstitutional' crackdown on charities

Sweeping new laws that could strip charities of the non-profit status for minor offences are intended to stifle protest, the sector warns
 (Acknowledgments to Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper 22.5.2021)

BR4R supporter Hazel Davidson has joined our newsletter team. Hazel has  provided us with a great summary of this issue.

Rev. Tim Costello met President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in 2013. Putin admitted he could not see the difference between 'policy' and 'politics'.  Similarly it seems that the Morrison Government cannot see the difference between 'advocacy' and 'civil disobedience'. 

The plan: The Government is planning harsh new laws against charities whose members break even very minor laws.  There are about 59,000 charities governed by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)

Over 1200 charities are planning to write a joint letter to the Government about their concerns. Church-based charities are sending members to lobby MPs of the same religion.  BR4R would be subject to these laws.

The issue: Registered charities like BR4R could be held responsible for minor legal breaches by members and supporters. This would mean that charities could lose their charitable status and preferential tax treatment; board directors/Committee members could be suspended, or the charities shut down. Charities fear they could also be held responsible for how other groups might use their reports or materials. They could be punished on suspicion that they would be likely to commit a crime because a similar group had done so.E ven if the charity, its staff, volunteers or supporters are not charged, the ACNC could deregister the charity.

How it might affect us:  BR4R, like other groups and churches, organises rallies each year on Palm Sunday to ask others to join them in acknowledging the impact of government policy on asylum seekers and refugees.  People wearing T-shirts with a charity logo could be asked to "move on" and the charity "reviewed" if it was felt any person disobeyed the request. Tim Costello points out he had nearly 600 staff at World Vision and could not possibly know if one of them committed a "summary offence" (one serious enough for the decision to be made by a Magistrate's Court).

Another example could be a rally against hotel detention at which a speaker is associated with a particular charity, or perhaps a charity staffer might tweet in support of the protest.  Some protesters might join a blockage of a parliamentary entrance, for example. All of those could be seen as Summary Offences.  As a result, a charity could be penalised by the ACNC. Volunteers working at community radio stations make all sorts of announcements, for example, who is rostered on for a local Lock the Gate protest.  The radio station could even be seen as supporting the cause.

Summary: The two main concerns about the situation are:
    i) The scope of the term "unlawful activities" is extremely broad. 
   ii) There are potential problems deciding who has "supported" the "unlawful activity".

Generally what happens now is that when there are arrests made, a few protestors finish up at the police station, their names and addresses are recorded and they are sent home without being charged.  Or, if the incident does get to court, it is dismissed by the magistrate. 

The Government now wants to discourage political demonstrations.  Hence the proposed new laws. Probably there would be a few charges against the most conspicuous groups to discourage others. The current Charities Commissioner is Gary Johns who was originally a Labor MP and is now a loud voice against support for charities. 

In 2017 the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill (EFDR) was introduced, which meant charities which "advocated" would be taxed and follow the same rules as political parties. This caused a furor among charities throughout Australia. They banded together and succeeded in getting the legislation amended.  It also taught the charities that it is useful to lobby collectively and to be actively on the lookout for damaging Government changes to the rules.  One real problem is obtuse wording which often disguises the real meaning of new rules.


We must all be vigilant for changes that limit our democratic freedoms.




The Regent Cinema Murwillumbah - World Refugee Day. Sunday 20th June 2021

  •  Sahar, a local musician and performing poet will be entertaining us on the Regent balcony from 1pm, prior to the movie beginning at 2pm, so please be early enough to enjoy her extraordinary talent. From a recent review: "With her powerful velvety vocals and thought- provoking lyricism, Sahar delivers socially conscious artistry with some songs packing a political punch while others fill you up like chicken soup for the soul and ears."
  • Members of the Scattered People cast, including Robbie James (GANGajang and Yothu Yindi), Yani (choir mistress) and Mas (Iranian musician) will be joining us at The Regent, along with the producers, John and Lizzie Swatland. All will be available for the Q&A after the film.
Scattered People is an important and timely film with a deeply moving story of how music can help to debunk myths as well as healing and connecting us all in this time of ever deepening division.
We look forward to seeing you for this special event.

Buy tickets now


BR4R will have a stall full of books, kids items, kitchen ware and clothes at the next Ballina Markets on the 20th June.

Come and say hi!

Contact jane at if you want to give us a hand at the stall or beforehand sorting out the goods at our container!

TUF  Date holder 8th October Tintenbar Hall


The TUF Committee have long been great supporters of BR4R. 

Members, please keep free the night of Friday 8th October for Tintenbar Up Front as BR4R will be the charity of the night. Talented singer/songwriter Luke Robinson, who sang at our Palm Sunday rally, is supporting us again. Please encourage your friends to attend too. At this stage there are COVID restrictions on the number of attendees, but let's be optimistic that they will be lifted by then.

Closer to the date we will need to find some helpers for washing up and tidying, and sweeping the floor at the end.  We will also need to provide and serve cakes etc. for supper. 

Tell your friends and get the date in your calendars now! 

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Link to BR4R on Facebook

Latest News

For the latest news on matters related to people seeking asylum and refugees please follow these links
Refugee Council of Australia
Kaldor Centre for Refugee Law UNSW
Amnesty International Australia
Ballina Region for Refugees
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Ballina Region for Refugees · PO Box 7083 · East Ballina, NSW 2478 · Australia

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