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Hi all
I hope all are bearing up as we enter a new phase in our lives with the easing of restrictions. For many the sense of isolation, the loss of freedoms taken for granted and the inability to see family and friends have been hard to manage. This experience, whilst new to most of us, is of course only a very small taste of the treatment refugees have faced for years on Manus and Nauru, and continue to face in Australia. The government has repeatedly told us that any harsh treatment or atrocities meted out to refugees on Manus and Nauru are the responsibility of the host country. At a Zoom link hosted recently by Inner West RAR to talk about the making of the film Men from Manus, Behrooz Boochani pointed out that the conditions that refugees are being held in Australia are inhumane, unnecessary and shameful for a civilised society. The government has no one else to blame here- they cannot hide that this is totally their responsibility. As Behrooz points out there is a deafening silence from the majority of Australian journalists about the sadistic treatment of refugees currently taking place in hotels and detention centres in Australia. Please do what you can to raise this issue with politicians and journalists and those in your social circle who may think that as refugees leave Manus, the issue is resolved.

There is hope. At our first open BR4R Zoom meeting in early May we heard from Glen and Meryl Jackson, tireless refugee advocates. Glen and Meryl spoke to us about #OperationNot Forgotten which aims to raise funds to have refugees permanently resettle in Canada. The Canadian government has taken a much more humane and civilised approach to refugee resettlement. The links here give more detail about the project.

So far funds have already been raised in Australia for the resettlement of 50 refugees. Groups involved in Canada must demonstrate that they have raised $18,000 for each refugee and that they are willing to offer support to the new arrival. This program is one of the only real prospects for refugees to have a decent life, with the freedoms that we took for granted.

BR4R recently donated $2000 to #OperationNot Forgotten and will donate a number of flagged individual donations that have come through the donate box on our website. Would it not be wonderful if we could raise $18,000 and be able to say that from our small community we have offered one person the chance of a new life? If you want to donate you can do this through the donate button below, just flag that you want funds to go to #OperationNotForgotten.

Our next open Zoom meeting is on the 6th June (4-5pm)when we will be joined by author Mark Issacs. If you would like to join us here is the Zoom link:
Mark has given us copies of his latest book "The Kabul Peace House" to sell. If you would like to purchase a copy, please email
Information about Mark can be found at this link:

Finally just as we were getting despondent about our limited efforts to fundraise, two wonderful things happened. Our call out for donations of the cost of a cup of coffee each week saw a number of supporters donate funds either weekly, monthly or one off. Many, many thanks. These funds allow us to continue our regular support of refugees which you can read about elsewhere in the newsletter. Secondly we had a phone call from Patrick Gillett from VivCourt offering us $10,000. As you can imagine this literally felt like manna from heaven. Thank you Patrick and VivCourt, and please see our article below that appeared in the Byron Echo.
Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom in early June.
Warm regards, Ruth

This article was recently printed in the Echo Net Daily (May21 2020)
Ballina refugee group gets $10,000 donation

Ballina Region for Refugees committee members Stanley Yeo and Lisa Dillon (rear) with Patrick Gillett (front).
It isn’t everyday that you get a call saying you are about to get handed $10,000. The members of Ballina Region for Refugees (BR4R) were ‘astonished and overjoyed’ when they recently got that call from the Australian trading company Vivienne Court Trading Pty Ltd (VivCourt).
‘With all fund-raising activities halted by the Coronavirus shutdown, BR4R was gradually depleting its financial reserves in an effort to continue supporting refugees and asylum seekers both in Australia and offshore,’ Vice-President, Stanley Yeo said.
The donation came after Alstonville based VivCourt representative Patrick Gillett chose BR4R for the donation.
‘I got to know a coffee shop owner in Brisbane who was an Afghan refugee and found out how much he had gone through to get here and what he had left behind. I realised how much he contributes to us here and that it really helps us to have people like him come here,’ Patrick told Echonetdaily.
While VivCourt is in many ways your normal corporate company that is focussed on profit its founder and CEO Rob Keldoulis has made the owner of this company a charity.
‘All the profit from the company goes to the charity,’ explained Peter.
‘At the end of every financial year all the employees are allocated a substantial amount of money and they get to decide which charities to give it to.’
Previously a similar sum was donated to Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina.
‘This money couldn’t have come at a better time,’ said Mr Yeo said.
‘Not only are we unable to fundraise at the moment, but many refugees who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, are in greater need of support. We’re very grateful to Patrick and VivCourt for choosing BR4R.’
Ballina Region for Refugees will donate $2,000 of the money to Operation#NotForgotten, a scheme to resettle refugees in Canada. Funds will also be allocated to refugee legal support, to medical support and to other frontline services.

Virtual Open Meeting

for BR4R members, volunteers and other interested parties

"The Kabul Peace House"

Speaker: Mark Isaacs

Saturday June 6th, 4pm

From PC, Mac, iOS or Android, just click on this link:
Or listen in by dialling: 61 2 8015 2088
If you have already joined Zoom, you can just enter the Meeting ID: 938 5986 5376

Mark Isaacs presents The Kabul Peace House, the incredible story of a group of peace activists in Afghanistan who are taking great risks to work for what many believe is an impossible dream. This group of young male and female Afghans – led by a charismatic and idealistic man called Insaan – formed a multi-ethnic community, a microcosm of how a new Afghanistan could be: a place of peaceful coexistence, a nation without war that embraces the values of peace and humanity. This is a remarkable story, a rare glimmer of hope and optimism in a country which many predict is destined for many more years of conflict.

For more information about the meeting, or assistance with Zoom, please contact: before the meeting date.
Mark Isaacs
President of Sydney PEN International 
Thursday 4th June 5-6pm Online Details at this link:
COVID-19 and International Refugee Law

Co-hosted by the International Law Association (Australia)
and the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW

What can I do to help refugees during COVID-19?
The Refugee Advice and Casework Service recommends
3 Things You Can Do
Thousands of people on temporary visas have been left with no form of income, no access to Medicare and no access to Centrelink or dedicated COVID-19 assistance.
They are facing extreme poverty and potential destitution.
If you haven’t already, join us in calling on Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Ruston, to expand social support to include ALL people in Australia.
We must not leave out the most vulnerable.
Sign The Petition

•    Email them, using the wording in our petition, calling for crisis support to be accessible for ALL people, including people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas.
Find Your Local MP

Despite this crisis, refugees and people seeking asylum must continue to meet strict visa deadlines to remain safe in Australia.
•    Thousands of men, women and children on temporary visas must continue to re-apply each time their visa expires.
•    Others who are still seeking initial protection will need to attend adapted interviews and hearings.
•    Those who are refused protection will need to go through the complex process of appealing to the courts to avoid being sent back to danger.
If people miss a critical deadline they could face detention or worse.
As well as facing possible deportation, people who lose visa rights will face an even higher risk of destitution and may struggle to protect themselves if they fall sick. It is imperative that they have the support of a lawyer to ensure all deadlines are met, no matter how additionally complex things might be in a global pandemic.

If you can, please make a donation to help us provide critical legal support to people in need. 
Refugees & People Seeking Asylum need support to remain safe
Refugee Advice and Casework Service

Donating directly


Thank you to the people who donated phones and computers. They have been forwarded to volunteers in Brisbane who are working directly with refugees. Mobile phones and computers are so important to the refugees. They are always thrilled to receive them. In the last few months we have sent 2 computers and 7 mobile phones donated by our members and their friends.

Clothing for refugees in detention in Melbourne.

BR4R is putting warm clothing together to send to men in detention in Melbourne. Does anyone know someone who travels to Melbourne on a regular basis who would be willing to take this clothing. If you can help please contact Meg on


SEEKING ASYLUM - Holding Patterns

The second annual BR4R poetry competition will be launched in Refugee Week on June 14. This is an Open competition and the theme this year is Holding Patterns. Entries will be accepted from June 14 until August 21st. Prizes: 1st place $300, 2nd place $150 and 3rd place $50. The winning entries will be published on-line (more details later). The entry form will be on the website soon.  Please tell all the poets you know.


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was born Robindronath Thakur (7th May 1861 – 7th August 1941), also known by his pen name Bhanu Singha Thakur (Bhonita) and sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi. He was a polymath, poet, musician, artist and ayurveda-researcher from Indian.

The poem was circulated in an email from Charter for Compassion ( 10.05.20, with a comment that perhaps the last line should be chnaged, "let me awake, let my country and our global community awake"

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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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