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Firstly, in this our first newsletter of 2021, let me we wish you all a Happy New Year. 

The year has started with good news. Yes, good news!  At this point, 46 men have been released into the community from the hotel prisons in Melbourne. Those released had been locked in the Mantra and Park hotels after being sent to Australia from Manus for medical care, which most did not actually receive. There appears to be no real clear explanation why some men rather than others have been released, and why now. Some have felt the release is related to the expected world attention, Australia, and Melbourne is getting, and will continue to get, around the Australian Open. All those released have been put on final bridging visas as were given to those released from community detention late last year. Those released will have to find work or rely on charity to survive, but they can now access Medicare which hopefully allow some to finally get the medical care and treatment they need. We will be working with our existing contacts to find out how we at BR4R can assist financially.

At the end of last year, we held our AGM, which was also a lovely (Covid safe) social occasion. We were treated to a Zoom presentation by Dawn Barrington, a tireless activist, advocate and musician. Dawn is such a positive person; she engendered a huge sense of optimism in us all that together we can create change. 

As you all know, last year was such a year of uncertainty across the globe. The goal of BR4R to think globally and act locally was never been more tested. As restrictions in Australia became a reality and our usual trusted sources of revenue dried up, it would have been easy just to go into recess, to take a break and resume activities at a later date. I am very proud to report that we did nothing of the sort. We introduced Zoom into our lives and pressed on with our business. Despite everything, we had another remarkable year.  

We met all our commitments to a number of refugee support organisations achieving the outstanding outcome of raising more than $27,000. Of that amount, we distributed $23,000 of that directly to refugees both here, locked in hotels, and to support those left on Manus and Nauru. We also sent funds to contribute to the resettlement of one refugee in Canada and to support legal representation of refugees here in Australia.

I would like to thank outgoing Committee members Meg Pickup and Cheryl Malloy for their years of hard work, energy and expertise. We are so fortunate that Meg will stay on as our Events Coordinator and Cheryl as our Public Officer. Thanks to Sue Williams for her commitment in the role of Public Officer over the last few years. Our new Committee members, Marilyn Leeks and Jane Lewis, join Stanley Yeo, Lisa Dillon, Rik Dillon and myself for the year ahead. 

We are hopeful this will be another year where we can create positive change. I look forward to you joining with us on this. 


46 refugees released, but need support

At the end of last week, 46 refugees who were being held in detention at the Park Hotel in Melbourne were released into the community. Behrouz Boochani was among those on the outside who joined in the celebrations.

Mostafa (Moz) Azimitabar (photo above) one of the released detainees, wrote:
This is the most beautiful moment of my life and one that I would like to share with you all. After 2,737 days locked up in detention – I am free.
Thank you to all of the amazing people who helped me to stay strong. I have been in contact with many wonderful people in Australia who have supported my resistance. I have been fighting for my freedom for a long time, and without you it would not have been possible.
We need to continue to think about the people who remain in detention. There will still be 14 people locked up behind the tinted glass [at the Park Hotel]. There are also refugees from Manus and Nauru in MITA, BITA, Kangaroo Point and other detention centres, struggling behind fences. [Hundreds of others continued to be held on Nauru or in Port Moresby.]
They don't have a voice. They need your help. The reason that I have been able to stay strong for eight years is because I never felt that I was alone. I always felt that there were people in Australia who cared about me. People who didn’t support with this cruel policy of torture and imprisonment.
I still believe that the power of the people can crumble the walls of oppression – and my freedom today is proof. I have seen the pain of my brothers in detention, I have listened to their traumatic stories. If these people weren't in danger in their homeland, they wouldn't have fled and left everything behind.
Most of these people are now in your land, but still waiting for their freedom. These people have families and friends just like you. These people are human. These people have hopes and dreams, they are already a part of this society. Yet they need your help.
If I am able to obtain my freedom, there should be the opportunity for the others seeking asylum to have their freedom as well.
Until all of us are free, none of us are truly free.

The released refugees, however, were then dumped in substandard accommodation in Reservoir and Sunshine.  Supporters are now working together to assist the men to get through the next couple of weeks, starting with buying food as the refugee had not been provided with food and did not know where to get it.  

Source: RAR

Time For A Home Campaign update

With 46 men now released from Hotel Detention, there are ongoing conversations based on finding accommodation and funding to support individuals who get 3 weeks minimal support and then have to rely on community compassion. Ahmad Hakin (CEO Refugee Voices) says that almost immediately $11,500 has been raised to provide $250 to each of these men who are being released in Melbourne. They are also continuing with funding raising campaigns. Community members are also demanding Peter Dutton release all remaining men.

Check out the ASRC website as to how you can help:

Compensation for breach of privacy

The following article from SBS news reports that the government is having to pay compensation due to the breach of privacy of nearly 10,000 asylum seekers. This relates to the Department of Home Affairs releasing personal information held on their website in 2014 through an unauthorised report. This report contained information on detainees on the mainland and Christmas Island. This will be the first time compensation will be paid by the government for non-economic loss.

Many Australians have been unaware of refugees being held in Darwin. To date this group has remained fairly silent, for fear of their release being jeopardised. They have now started to do their own peaceful protest on social media. They are families (I am not sure how many) medivaced here from Nauru. Please see links below of one of those refugees, Abass and his parents stuck in Darwin.  The 2nd video is Craig Foster talking to Farhad Bandesh.

The group Refugee Voices are based in Melbourne.  They are working hard to get funds to help. They are trying to raise $1000 for each of the men released to help them get a few things to get on their feet.
You can donate through

Update on BR4R Refugee Resettlement Support Group

Our 12 member BR4R Resettlement Support Group  is waiting on the Community Refugee Support Initiative (CRSI) to assign a mentee to us in the coming months. This programme aims to offer SHEV or TPV holders (mentees)  the opportunity to resettle in Ballina, supported by our Support Group

In the meantime, we are fortunate to have Rachel Welstead, a SCU Social Work Masters student, on placement with us. One of Rachel's tasks is to assist with producing a resource kit of local information to help refugees resettle /settle in our region. Elsewhere in the newsletter you can read more about Rachel's progress and how you might be able to support refugees resettle/settle in Ballina.

BR4R's participation in this programme is building towards a possible  Australian Government Community Sponsorship Scheme much like the Canadian model. CRSI’s January newsletter contained the following encouraging extract:-

Policy reform is on the cards for 2021

While 2020 saw Australia’s migration program put ‘on hold’ and the federal budget made cuts to the refugee program, there is hope that Australia’s humanitarian migration program will resume as the pandemic eases and that a new community refugee sponsorship program may feature in the next era of refugee resettlement in Australia. As we speak, the Federal government is putting the finishing touches on its review of Australia’s private refugee sponsorship program – the Community Support Program (CSP) – and we are confident that as a result of our research and advocacy (and that of many other like-minded organisations and individuals) Federal policymakers now understand not only why the current program has missed the mark in engaging the broader Australian community, but also the wide range of benefits that will flow to refugees and the Australian community if a more affordable and accessible sponsorship program is made available. 

Alex Hawke MP was appointed as the new Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs in December 2020. We are looking forward to engaging with Mr. Hawke, his fellow MPs and the Department of Home Affairs as the government considers the role that a new community refugee sponsorship scheme might play in Australia’s post-COVID migration program. As a proponent of a cohesive multicultural Australia and as the self-described ‘child of a migrant family that arrived in Australia seeking the safety, freedom and opportunities this country affords’, we are hopeful that Mr Hawke, along with his colleagues, will see the benefits of introducing a new refugee sponsorship program when the pandemic allows Australia’s migration program to resume.

Volunteers Resources Kit

As part of the resource kit, it has been suggested there is a segment in the social inclusion section where members are able to offer any skills or hobbies and would like to include new residents. This would benefit people to help build social connections and offer more opportunities to connect in a variety of settings. This approach has been proven to help people to become more interconnected and sustainable in the settlement process. Activities may include people who like to teach others to swim, are involved in a community sport or be involved in creative pursuits. Even people who like to bike ride, teach bike maintenance and road safety would be of value. Another specific area of where volunteers would be very helpful are people who are willing to support new residents to drive, vehicle maintenance and care.
Send your suggestions and express your support at

Offers for members who would like to be included in this program is appreciated and would be included within the resource kit with their contact details. This information is for the mentors to access and remains confidential.

BR4R would like to thank our Masters of Social Work Student, Rachel Welstead, for her work on this Resource Kit.

Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law 
2020 snapshot: Highlights from an exceptional year


We can often feel as refugee advocates and supporters that change is very hard to achieve. Late last year,  the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law produced a wonderful summary of what had been achieved. This makes for inspiring reading. Search for and within that, for 2020 highlights. If you have any difficulty, email and I can email  the information to you.

Some of our team listened to some interesting online seminars coordinated by the Kaldor Centre. Watch out for their reports in our next newsletter 

Bunnings BBQ

Come for a chat and the infamous sausage sizzle! We will be hosting the Ballina  Bunnings BBQ on the 6th February.

Ballina Markets

The Ballina Lions markets held at Canal Road, Ballina on the third Sunday of the month have been a great fundraiser for BR4R over the last few years. In November and December we raised record amounts. January was another success, we gathered $742.30.

If you have bric a brac, clothes in saleable condition, books, toys that you think we could sell, please contact and we will try and to arrange collection. We have so many generous donations especially of clothes and books that ideally we spend one morning a week at the container in Ballina. If you would like to help out before, during or after the markets, we'd also love to hear from you too. Please contact 

The next markets will be held on the 21st February.


Roadside rallies

The roadside rallies have commenced for 2021 with the first one held on January 27 at 4:30pm. They are held in Kerr Street outside Ballina Fair. We have a new placard 'Stop the cruelty'. There were 80 positive responses and one negative response so more people are still supportive of the messages than not.
The next rallies will be held on the 10th and 24th February 10 and 24 and 10th and 24th March.
People are most welcome to join us. Wear a hat and covered shoes (ants have taken up residence along the fence line and have a nasty habit of biting).

Lismore Car boot Markets

We'll have a stall at the Lismore carboot markets on Sunday March 7th from 7am till 3pm at Lismore Square shopping center. Help will be needed on our stall and with the bucket donation collections. Please contact 

PALM SUNDAY RALLY - Time for a Home

Please keep a couple of hours free on Sunday, March 28th, for our Palm Sunday rally, at 11 am in the Lennox Head foreshore park.  There'll be guest speakers and singers (more details later). Let's see how many family members and friends we can encourage to attend.  It would be fantastic to have many more young people there this year, and a big enough crowd to show that  our Northern Rivers community really cares about refugees....and although many have now been released, there is still much work to be done to help them and to help the people who are still on Nauru and in PNG.

Some great memories of 2019 Palm Sunday Rally, shared by Julia Hall.

BR4R membership renewal

BR4R is a membership organisation. All memberships  are due for renewal at each AGM. Thanks to those of you who have already renewed your membership. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.

If you are yet to renew your Membership for 2021, we encourage you to do this by the 16th of February  2021. Cost for general 2021 membership is $30 per person (reduced to $20 for students and concessions). 
You can renew through our bank account or by cheque. Please make your payment into our new bank account at:

Southern Cross Credit Union, Ballina Fair,
BSB: 722-744
A/C: 100 135 365.
Transaction reference: your family name + membership

You can alternatively send a cheque to BR4R, PO Box 7083, East Ballina, NSW 2478 with a note stating your name + membership.

If you have changed any of your contact details, or have any questions about your membership, please contact Bayla our Membership Coordinator through

If you are not yet a member but would like to join, please check out our website You can also contact Bayla through

Guess who bought Pauline Hanson's website...

Our "favourite" Australian politician forgot to renew her domain. Someone bought it and redirected it!

New Committee for 2020/21


At our AGM in December 2020 a new BR4R Committee was elected for the coming 2 years. 

President: Ruth Henderson (term ending in 2021)
Vice President: Stanley Yeo (term ending in 2021). Stanley has also taken on the Coordination of our Refugee Settlement Group.
Secretary: Sandra Mondange (term ending 2022). Sandra has also taken on the role of the Admin Coordinator as well as the editing of our monthly newsletter.
Treasurer: Rik Dillon (term ending 2022). Rik is also our webmaster.
Ordinary member: Lisa Dillon term (ending 2021). Lisa is also our Publicity Officer. Within this role, Lisa has taken on management of our Facebook site and of our Twitter account.
Ordinary Member: Jane Lewis (term ending 2022). Jane is also our Volunteer Coordinator.
Ordinary Member: Marilyn Leeks (term ending 2022).
Public Officer: Cheryl Malloy  

Cheryl Malloy and Meg Pickup finished their terms on the Committee and an especial thanks to both for their commitment, dedication and effort.
Sue Williams handed over the role of Public Officer, thanks to Sue for her enthusiasm in this role.
Cheryl remains as our Public Officer and Meg as our Events Coordinator. 

Our Coordinators for the coming year are:

Membership Coordinator: Bayla Nerden
Fundraising: Trish Antoniacomi
Events: Meg Pickup
Publicity: Lisa Dillon
Homestay: Gunela Astbrink
Letter Writing: Christine McNeil

Thanks to all of our Coordinators for their dedication, time and expertise. 

To read the BR4R reports presented at the AGM as well reports from those we support, please follow the link here:

If you have any questions /comments about any of the BR4R AGM reports, please contact the Committee through

Guest Speaker: At the AGM, we had Dawn Barrington, WA based musician and refugee advocate and  activist, talk to those in attendance at the AGM, about her work. Dawn's practical approach, her enthusiasm and her firm hope that from small actions, big things will change, was infectious and inspiring. It served to remind us that we are making a difference. It proved a great way to end what had been a year of uncertainty for everyone

Make a donation today
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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